3 reasons we all need to practice loving-kindness meditation

You may have tried meditation in the past. Perhaps you kept it up for a couple of days and thought ‘this feels difficult.’ So you stopped and assumed meditation is just not right for you.

Go to the profile of Frances A Masters
Oct 26, 2017
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But did you know there are thousands of ways to meditate; from mindfulness, breath-based or mantra-based meditations to open focused or visualisation-based practices. So perhaps you just need to shop around a bit to find the one that’s the best for you. They do say you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince, after all.
 
If you think of the different meditation practices as racehorses, you might assume that mindfulness is the one at the front of the field right now. Mindfulness as a kind of mind management tool  is everywhere and it’s been the subject of a lot of research. But more and more evidence is building for a lesser known practice known as ‘loving-kindness’ and here are 3 reasons you might want to give it a try right away:
 
#1 It increasing positive emotions and improves overall wellbeing

In a landmark study, Barbara Frederickson and her colleagues found that just seven weeks of loving-kindness practice led to more positive emotions in meditators and less depressive thoughts, which, in turn, resulted in increased self esteem, life-satisfaction, sense of purpose and less symptoms of illness.


The research suggests that loving kindness is a particularly useful ‘mind sculpting’ practice as our thoughts are known to shape our brain. Improved self compassion produces the kind of positive emotions that are a real antidote to the hedonic treadmill on which many of us find ourselves in today’s fast moving, goal focused world.


 #2 It silences your inner critic


A 2014 study by Shahar et al found that loving-kindness meditation was effective for those who suffer with low self esteem and constantly beat themselves up.


After a few weeks of practice, meditators reported reduced self criticism and symptoms of depression and increased self compassion and positive feelings. What’s more, the improvements were still there 3 months later, indicating that loving-kindness provides both instant gratification and mood uplift yet has long-lasting and enduring effects too.


 #3 It slows down the aging process


Stress decreases telomere length. Telomeres are the tiny bits of our chromosomes that are the biological markers of the aging process.


In 2013, Hoge et al found that women who practiced loving-kindness meditation had longer telomere length compared to women of the same age who didn’t have a meditation practice. Now it looks like we can all save money by cancelling the next trip to the cosmetic surgeon and making an appointment with our self instead!


So there you have it; solid evidence that loving-kindness works. But how do you do it?


Loving-kindness: the basics


Traditionally, you decide on a set of compassionate statements that feel comfortable and appropriate for you and then you recite them silently, over and over. Here are some traditional ones:

May I be peaceful
May I have ease of well-being
May I be happy
May I be free from suffering
May I be healed
May I dwell in peace
May I be at ease


After trying some out, settle on three or four that fit closest to your intention to cultivate kindness and goodwill toward yourself and others. Don't worry if it doesn’t feel genuine at first. After doing it for a while, the practice itself will work its magic and it will feel authentic.
Traditionally, loving-kindness statements are directed at different groups of people. Select one, more, or all of the following:


Yourself 


First, direct your chosen phrases towards yourself.


Some people find it hard to be kind to themselves because, from years of conditioning, they've actually become their own harshest critics. But we can change our inner programming by ‘uploading some new software’. It was Buddha who said ‘The mind is soft and pliant’ which means you can transform your inner enemy into your inner best friend. Think of your mind as a clean slate and start filling that slate with thoughts of kindness, benevolence, and love for yourself.


In your imagination, you might see yourself as a child and begin to extend love and kindness towards that child. This is particularly helpful if you had a difficult childhood or felt unloved.


A Benefactor 


After a time, begin to direct your compassionate statements to someone for whom you feel deep gratitude. It might be an influential teacher in your life. You might even imagine yourself as that child looking into the loving and compassionate eyes of you, the adult or parent figure.


 A Beloved Friend or Family Member


Then, direct your compassionate statements to a person you love unconditionally, like a family member. Silently say the person's name or bring an image of his or her face to mind.


 A Neutral Person 


Next, direct your phrases to a person in your life who you don't have strong feelings about one way or another, like the postman or the girl on the checkout at the supermarket.


 The Difficult Person 


Then direct your statements to a person who you may feel an aversion for or feel angry with. This can be more of a challenge and it's best to begin with someone who doesn't pose a great difficulty for you, like a friend you’ve had an argument with, or even a public figure who you disagree with.


 The world


Finally you might extend your loving-kindness towards the whole planet, imagining the world and all the people on it as a revolving globe in front of you.


The goal of loving-kindness is to cultivate feelings of benevolence. After a while it will feel increasingly natural to think of all living beings with kindness and friendliness......including yourself!

Go to the profile of Frances A Masters

Frances A Masters

Psychotherapist, Coach, Writer. Live your best life.

Do you want to be happier and more resilient? Some people seem to just 'bounce back' no matter what life throws at them. We can't choose many of life's events but we certainly do have a choice about how we respond. My passion for mental health began 25 years ago when I suffered postnatal depression and realised the help I needed simply wasn't there. The pills didn't work. In fact they made things worse. What I really needed was to understand how anxiety, depression and emotional ill health can develop. I needed to learn good 'mind management' skills which would act like a 'psychological inoculation' against future problems. When I recovered, I made a decision to find out how and why I had become so depressed and made a personal pledge to do something to provide the kind of help for others which I had needed. I wanted to prevent people suffering unnecessarily. So I embarked on a personal and professional journey and, along the way, developed a brand new approach to health and well-being. My journey began with four years of traditional counselling training, followed by a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapy. I studied cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), hypnotherapy, coaching and cognitive neuroscience. I built up 30,000 hours professional experience which I brought together into the new happiness and resilience programme l named 'Fusion.' I also wrote a book about how to resolve post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), founded a therapeutic coaching charity and trained volunteers to work in this new way. This training programme would later become the nationally accredited Fusion Therapeutic Coaching Diploma and Distance Learning Skills Certificate. Now... The journey continues. Now I want to reveal all my professional secrets about good mind management to as many people as possible through social media and by training Fusion Breakthrough trainers from all over the world. One of them could be you... Something new.. Something different.. Something which lasts.. What if you could experience one day which could actually change your life for good; giving you your own eureka moment; not only helping you create a vision of the life you want to live, but actually give you the real skills to get there and stay there? Fusion is a tried and tested system which combines the best of psychotherapy and coaching into a powerful new formula for lasting change. My aim is to help and empower as many people as possible to feel their best, be their best and live their best lives. Perhaps I could help you too....

1 Comments

Go to the profile of Jeaneen Andretta
Jeaneen Andretta 3 months ago

Why do you say May I be peaceful, why not I am peaceful.