Loving-Kindness Meditation: Finding Compassion for Yourself and Others

Need a big dose of compassion, peace, and warmth? In this blog, we'll explore "loving-kindness meditation," a simple yet powerful practice that involves cultivating positive emotions (such as love, kindness, and compassion) towards yourself and others.

Mikah Horn
Loving-Kindness Meditation: Finding Compassion for Yourself and Others

What is loving-kindness meditation?

Loving-kindness meditation, also known as "Metta" meditation, is a technique that helps cultivate feelings of love, kindness, and compassion - both for yourself and for others.

Over time, research has shown that this can help you feel more relaxed, less stressed, and more empathetic towards yourself and others. It can also improve your relationships and help you develop a more positive outlook on life.

There's also some evidence that loving-kindness meditation may have physical health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, improving immune system function, and slowing biological aging.

"May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you be safe.
May you be peaceful and at ease."

How does loving-kindness meditation work?

Here's a simple breakdown of how to approach loving-kindness meditation:

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable place where you can sit without interruption for a few minutes.
  2. Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and your eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths to calm your mind and body.
  3. Begin by focusing on yourself and silently repeat positive phrases to yourself, such as "May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be peaceful." (Use specific phrases that resonate with you.)
  4. As you repeat these phrases, focus on the positive emotions that arise, such as love, kindness, and warmth. Imagine these feelings spreading throughout your body.
  5. Move on to someone else, such as a family member or friend, and repeat the same phrases to yourself, focusing on the positive emotions that arise.
  6. Continue this process, moving on to acquaintances, strangers, someone you have a difficult relationship with, and then eventually all beings everywhere.
  7. Take a few deep breaths and slowly open your eyes, taking a moment to notice how you feel.

What if it's challenging to feel loving-kindness towards myself?

This is a common thing that comes up with my yoga therapy clients. Sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to feel positive feelings and compassion towards yourself, while it's very easy to feel compassion for other people. So if this is you, you're certainly not alone!

In this case, something that can be effective is to start by focusing on someone you love or care for deeply (instead of starting with yourself). Once you're able to connect deeply with the positive emotions, then you can try working up to shifting the focus to yourself.

Remember that this is a practice! It's absolutely normal if you find it challenging at first. Developing self-compassion is a process, and it's okay to take your time with it. With consistent practice and patience, it is possible to develop more positive feelings towards yourself (and others).

Ready to try it?

Here's a short guided loving-kindness meditation so you can put it into practice.

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