Loving-kindness (or metta) meditation is a beautiful practice which cultivates feelings of love and kindness for ourselves and others. This is a personal favourite of mine because, as the song goes, “what the world needs now is love, sweet love”.
While many meditations are entirely focused on the self, loving-kindness goes beyond self and to the collective. It fosters compassion and empathy and allows us to feel connected. Practicing loving-kindness helps to strengthen emotional intelligence. By generating feelings of love and compassion for ourselves, we can share that with other people, even those who bother us.
If you’ve never done a loving-kindness meditation before, I recommend using a guided meditation. There are many free ones on YouTube though my absolute favourite is on the Calm App. Get comfortable whether that’s sitting or lying down. If you’re into crystals, you may want to hold a piece of rose quartz in your hand because it allows for the healing of heart issues and it can attract love.
Take a few deep breaths to get settled into the here and now. Notice your breath and as you inhale, notice how your heart rate increases. As you exhale, notice how your heart rate decreases. Keep your attention on your heart center for a few more breaths.
There are many different phrases used in loving-kindness meditations. I find keeping it short and simple to be the most effective so you can really feel/mean them though you can change the phrases as you deem fit. Heck, your phrase could be, “May you be as happy as Tonya Harding nailing the triple axel.” Whatever resonates with you! 😉
Start by bringing your awareness to yourself. This is sometimes the most challenging for people as we can be so hard on ourselves. Repeat to yourself: “May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be safe. May I be at peace.” You can change this phrase to anything you’d like such as: “May I be free from harm. May I be joyful. May my body and mind be free from pain.” Whatever speaks to you and brings a sense of warmth and love, please use. Repeat to yourself several times while focusing on your heart.
Then you move on to someone you love unconditionally. This could be a partner, a pet, a child, a parent, a friend – anyone you love with all your heart. You can think of more than one person if you’d like. Bring them to mind and repeat: “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe. May you be at peace.” or any phrase variation you used for yourself. Repeat several times, wishing them love.
Next, move on to someone you feel neutral about. This could be the mail person, a co-worker, an acquaintance – anyone you feel “meh” about. While focusing on them, repeat the same phrase as above for well wishes to them.
Now’s the hard part. That a**hole from work that you just can’t stand? Yeah, well he deserves loving-kindness too (in fact- he just might need it the most!). Bring your difficult person to mind. As best as you can, repeat the same phrases for them. You might even alter your phrase to say, “As best as I can, I wish you happiness. As best as I can, I wish you health.” and so on. Remember: this is a practice.
Finally, we send feelings of love and compassion to all beings. Maybe you’d like to focus on your group of friends, your community, or the world at large. Repeat your choice of phrases. “May all beings be happy. May all beings be healthy. May all beings be safe. May all beings be at peace.”
This is a lovely meditation to start your day with in order to carry feelings of empathy throughout the day.
Let us know your experience with Loving-Kindness Meditation in the comments below.
Written by Holly Pluchinski, Certified Yoga Instructor, Owner of Kayfabe Yoga, and Huna Operations Assistant.