Mindfulness Challenge: Day 9

Loving-kindness meditation

Now, perhaps more than ever, we are faced with messages of hate, rejection, fear and exclusion. I experience visceral reactions when hearing said messages spoken by our leaders, the media, people in our communities and beyond and notice the impact on both my physical and emotional wellbeing. Changing these messages must begin at an individual level and must start with self-love and acceptance.

Loving-kindness has been described as an unconditional, inclusive love; one that is independent of whether or not one is worthy of love. Once we have the ability to practice self-acceptance, we are then able to extend it to others. 

Loving-kindness, or metta, has many variations with the same principle of extending love and peace. Today’s practice will be an abridged and personal practice meant to introduce the concepts of loving-kindness meditation.

Begin by choosing three hopes for your life and formulate those wishes into three to four simple phrases.

Examples:

May I be safe and protected.

May I be healthy and strong.

May I be able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease.

May I be happy.

May I be free from suffering.

May I be accepting of myself just as I am.

May I be peaceful with whatever is happening around me.

Gently close your eyes and bring your attention to your chest or “heart center.” Your heart center is the anchor of this practice and will be the place to return to if you notice your mind wandering. Breathing in and out, direct your phrases to yourself several times:

May I be healthy and strong.

May I be happy.

May I be free from suffering.

Notice any self-judgment or self-hatred and simply return to the breath and your phrases.

Next, direct your wishes to someone else that you love or feel thankful for. This may be a parent, friend, child, mentor, or partner. Continue noticing any thoughts that may arise and return your attention back to the loving-kindness phrases.

Next, move to someone you feel neutral about; someone for whom you feel neither strong like nor dislike. As you repeat the phrases, allow yourself to feel loving care for their welfare. This may be difficult as we tend to quickly categorize others as either positive or negative.

Moving on, visualize someone you have anger towards, difficulty with or with whom you hold resentments. Repeat your phrases for this person. If you are struggling with this, you may add, “To the best of my ability, I wish that you be….” Allow the wishes to expand through your body, mind and heart.

Finally, begin to extend your hopes and wishes universally to all living beings:

May all beings be healthy and strong.

May all beings be happy.

May all beings be free from suffering.

As you conclude, notice, without judgment, any feelings of tenderness, joy, anger, grief, sadness or hope that may have arisen during your practice. Acknowledge all of these as signs of your heart opening and softening to what it holds.

Chrissy