Loving kindness meditation, is one of the two simplest meditations in Buddhism and it helps develop positive feelings towards all other living creatures. It brings out our natural capacity for connection and helps us become less judgmental, less critical, and less dismissive of people and it helps us feel less separate and alone.
While loving kindness is a great meditation practice to do every day, you can also practice it “on the fly” as you go about your day. Whenever you interact with someone, send them love. Whenever you’re on the phone, send love. Whenever you’re at work, send love. Not only does it feel good, but it primes your brain to notice the good in people, and this alone changes your behaviors toward them, for the better!
Today we would like to share with you a comprehensive step-by-step guide about how to practice loving kindness meditation. We found this wonderful YouTube video created by Howcast that we just had to share with you…
Step 1: Sit comfortably
Find a position in which you can sit comfortably for the meditation. You can kneel using a meditation bench, sit cross-legged on the floor, or sit upright on a chair.
Step 2: Decide length of phases
Decide how long each of the five phases of the meditation will be. Five minutes is a good length of time for beginners.
Step 3: Set timer or select music
Set the timer or select a track on your music player that corresponds to the length of time you have chosen for the first phase.
Step 4: Bring awareness into the present
To prepare yourself for the meditation, bring your awareness into the present.
Step 5: Close your eyes & become aware of body
Close your eyes and scan your body to become fully aware of it. Begin with your toes and move slowly along your feet and up your legs, back, and pelvis, through your hands and arms, and finally up to your neck and head.
Step 6: Reflect on what you want to achieve
Reflect on what you want to achieve from this meditation. Maybe you want to reconcile yourself with a particular person. Then commit yourself to practicing conscientiously.
Step 7: Cultivate feeling of loving kindness
Keeping your eyes gently closed throughout the practice, begin to cultivate the feeling of loving kindness. There are many ways to do this. You might recall previous times when the feeling arose, repeat a phrase that expresses loving kindness (like ‘may I, you, or they be happy’), or imagine someone else communicating loving kindness to you.
Step 8: Cultivate loving kindness towards yourself
For the first phase of meditation, cultivate loving kindness towards yourself. The way we feel about ourselves affects the way we treat others.
Step 9: Imagine someone who loves you
Many people find it difficult to feel loving kindness towards themselves. Try imagining someone who loves you expressing their love, and be completely open to this love.
Step 10: Cultivate loving kindness toward
For the second phase, cultivate loving kindness towards someone for whom you already have positive feelings—a social acquaintance, an admired colleague, a respected teacher, or a close friend. Reflect on that person’s good qualities, or visualize him or her radiating joy.
Tip: Especially at first, it can be best to focus on someone who is just a friend, rather than a parent, child, or partner, because family relationships and sexual attraction can complicate your feelings.
Step 11: Cultivate loving kindness toward…
For the third phase, cultivate loving kindness towards a neutral person who triggers neither like nor dislike. This should be somebody you know or see regularly, for example a neighbor you nod hello to but about whom you have no feelings one way or the other.
Step 12: Cultivate loving kindness toward…
For the fourth phase, cultivate loving kindness toward a hostile person, someone with whom you currently have difficulties. Many people find that when they practice metta bhavana for a hostile person, they find their relationship with that person improved.
Step 13: Cultivate loving kindness toward…
For the fifth phase, cultivate loving kindness toward yourself, your friend, and your enemy at the same time.
Step 14: Extend loving kindness to all living things
Extend your loving kindness outward until it reaches all living things. To do this, think of people in different locations across the globe going about their lives in various ways.
Step 15: Reflect on experience
When you have completed the fifth phase, sit quietly for a few seconds and reflect on your experience of meditation.
Step 16: Return gently to your life
Return gently to your life in the outside world. Remember that loving kindness is not only practiced in meditation but also in life.
Practicing mindfulness generates within us an inner serenity and deeper insight to life, so why not try this for 5 minutes today during your daily meditation practice. We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments section below!