In Metta Meditation, which is also commonly known as Loving Kindness Meditation, you generate kind intentions and love towards yourselves and then, in a sequence of expansion, towards all living beings. All of these are achieved through mentally repeating a series of phrases either directed at yourself, at someone you love and towards everyone universally.
By practicing loving kindness meditation you first learn to love yourself unconditionally and then you learn how to extend that pure love to everyone around you. The motive is unbiased and unrestricted love! Eventually you learn how to feel compassion for even those that may have hurt you deeply or those that you have a conflict with.
Metta is a Pali word with multi-significant meaning including loving-kindness, goodwill, friendliness, amity, concord, benevolence, inoffensiveness, concord and non-violence. If you have to describe in simpler terms, it is essentially about cultivating love and a strong wish for welfare and happiness for others. This practice of Universal love is the goal of this powerful ancient Buddhist tradition of Loving and kindness meditation.
The Science of Metta Meditation
Kindness, empathy and compassion are very basic human emotions. Studies have shown that loving kindness meditation or Metta meditation has immense benefits from greater well-being to improving emotional intelligence to alleviating illness. Repeating loving kindness phrases in a single sitting of 10 minutes of this mediation session can foster a ripple effect, leading to increased feelings of social connectedness and positivity towards even strangers.
How to Practice Metta meditation aka Loving Kindness meditation
This meditation technique can be practiced in different ways. You can take the help of guided Metta meditation to make it more effective. But, if you want to begin on your own then you may choose to try Metta meditation the following way.
- Begin by taking a comfortable seated position. Then close your eyes, relax your muscles and take a few deep breaths.
- Imagine yourself experiencing complete physical and emotional peace deep within. Focus on this feeling of inner peace and imagine that you’re inhaling feelings of love and exhaling tension and negativity.
- Find yourself positive phrases you’d like to use to offer good wishes either to yourself or others. The phrases can be ‘may I be safe’, ‘may I be happy’ for self and phrases like ‘may you be safe’, ‘may you be happy’, etc. for others. You can choose to adapt the phrases as you see fit.
- Think of someone you care about or someone who’s been kind to you. Direct that force of loving-kindness towards those people wishing them safety, peace, happiness and health. You may even want to include those who you are in conflict with for forgiveness and finding peace.
- Gently repeat these phrases and visualize the object of your meditation and feel the flow of goodwill.
- When you feel that your meditation is complete, gently open your eyes. Internalize the feelings of loving kindness meditation and revisit those feelings throughout the day.
Benefits of Metta Meditation
Here are some of the amazing benefits of Metta Meditation.
- Increases positive emotions. Loving kindness meditation is what you need to boost your happiness and well being. Consistent practice of this meditation increases feelings of joy, love, gratitude, contentment, hope, forgiveness, pride, and cheerfulness. In turn, these positive emotions further enhance life satisfaction and reduce depressive symptoms.
- Makes your ability to empathize stronger. Frequently performing the Loving Kindness meditation has shown to trigger and reinforce parts of the brain responsible for feelings of empathy.
- Shuts down your self-criticism. Research shows that participants involved in Loving Kindness Meditation help individuals tame their inner critic and depressive symptoms. It improves self-compassion and positive emotions.
- Reduces incidences of migraines. Yes, Metta meditation helps in debilitating migraine pains and ease emotional tension linked with chronic migraines.
- Increases generous and helpful behavior towards others by enhancing positive interpersonal attitudes and emotions.
- You sleep well. Of course when you go to bed with the feelings of loving and kindness toward yourself and others, you’ll have zero stress and you’ll sleep more peacefully.
- Last but not the least, slows down biological aging by increasing Telomere Length (a biological marker for aging). Ladies’ might take note! Studies reveal that those women practicing Loving Kindness Meditation had relatively longer Telomere length when compared to age-matched controls.
We all have the natural capacity for kindness, but often we don’t take time and steps to nurture and express this ability as much as we could. Practicing love and kindness meditation is a great way to cultivate our kind disposition. It surely will take us straight to the route of happiness.