Finding loving-kindness muscle
Have you ever seen monks in orange robes with a peaceful and kind look on their faces that does not seem to be unaffected by the harsh reality we live in? This meditation is a secret technique that got them there. I have to warn you though while the script of this practice is very simple the actual process may be a bit harder than that.
The basic idea here is to find and gradually increase the strength of the loving-kindness feeling toward different people. Note the word “to find”. The logically inclined individuals may struggle to locate and turn on loving-kindness on demand. This is perfectly normal as we tend to mute our feelings especially when lives seem to not welcome that.
This practice was not the easiest for me at the beginning. We all experienced this feeling of loving-kindness more than once. When hugging your mum, seeing a good friend after a long break, feeling compassion towards someone’s pain. However, when it comes to switching it on by demand rather than being triggered by an event it is a difficult task.
I started small trying to find the sensation of love and kindness in my mind and body. It felt almost like flexing a tiny obscure muscle that you have not used on purpose yet at the gym. With practice, it becomes easier and easier. My suggestion as always is to be patient and you will see the improvement mover time.
There are different variations of this mediation that follow the same principle. You start to generate the feeling of goodwill to a person to whom it is easy to do so. You then continue with progressively more difficult people. The meditation practice concludes with a final stage when you expand this feeling to all people and living creatures in the world.
I find it particularly useful to wishing well people that you have a strong negative emotion toward. This is a no prescription necessary peace pill that heals inner wounds. It helped me over and over to face difficult people and allowed me to see beyond the feelings of anger, frustration, and negativity.
It is also worth mentioning that the feeling of love is not a romantic feeling but more of an empathic and compassionate love. For this reason, it is suggested that you do not include romantic partners in the first stages. You will be confusing your mind as you will be cultivating a different type of feeling.
You may find that it is easier to wish well to neutral people, or yourself than to your close friends and that is perfectly normal. Chose the easiest person in stage 6 to expand the feeling to all of the beings in the world.
The following steps adopted from on a guided meditation from Mark Zelinsky. I have been using it for a couple of years and it is also available on Insight Timer application.
Loving-Kindness Meditation Script
Get in a very comfortable position either sitting or lying down. Try to maintain a level of alertness that will keep you awake and aware. Take 3 deep refreshing breaths. Inhale, pause for 1-2-3 , and exhale slowly. And again Inhale, pause for 1-2-3 , and exhale. And again for a third time – inhale, hold it 1-2-3 and slowing exhale.
Stage 1. Wishing loving kindness to yourself.
Now let you breathing to return to a relax natural state. Begin to generate a feeling of good will for yourself. By holding a friendly attitude toward yourself think – “May I be truly happy. May I be healthy. May I be safe from inner and outer harm. May I be peaceful.”
Notice if you can detect any feeling that comes from this wish for happiness. Anything from a smallest glimmer to a deep sense of one regard. By holding this feeling in mind you can begin to spread this wish for happiness to others.
Stage 2. Generating loving-kindness to a person close to you.
Begin with someone with whom you have an uncomplicated relationship, a caregiver, a child a friend. Someone that you can picture looking back upon you with a kind regard. Think to yourself – “May they be truly happy. May they be healthy, may they be safe. May they be at ease”. Continue with this for 2 minutes.
Stage 3. Generating a feeling of loving-kindness to a friend.
Now think of an acquaintance or person that you are very fond of. May be you don’t know them well but it’s easy to wish them well. May they be truly happy. May they be healthy. May they be safe. May they be at ease. Continue wishing well for 2 minutes.
Stage 4. Generating a feeling of loving kindness to a neural person.
Think of a neutral person, perhaps you see occasionally but you really don’t know them and follow the same steps. “May they be truly happy. May they be healthy. May they be safe. May they be peaceful”. Continue with this for 2 minutes.
Stage 5. Generating a feeling of loving-kindness to a person you have a conflict
Now bring to mind a person with whom you have conflict, someone you know or someone from the news. Consider that if everyone is truly happy there may be much less conflict in the world.
Your wish for their happiness is your wish for the world to be a kinder and happier place. It is that kind of happiness that does not come at the expense of others.
Think – “May they be truly happy. May they be healthy. May they be safe. May they be at ease”. Stay with generating the feeling for 2 minutes before moving to the final stage.
Stage 6 Wishing well to the world.
Now bring your attention back to a person for whom it was easy to generate good will and a genuine wish for happiness. Weather it is ourselves or loved one or a stranger. Let the feeling of good will to grow again. Happy. Healthy. Safe. Peaceful.
Now imagine this feeling spreading out from you. A strong wish for all beings. Imagine that you capacity for good will has no limits. And extends in all directions. May all beings be happy. May all beings in the cosmos find an end to suffering and conflict.
May we be truly happy. May we be healthy. May we be safe. May we be at peace.
Smile. And open your eyes.
This complete your meditation session.
This post is a part of 6 articles mini-series. You can read the rest of the posts by the links below: