These, or phrases similar to them, are a part of a popular meditation practice called “lovingkindness”. The idea of lovingkindness is ancient and is seen within the major religions of Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism. Truth be told, it likely factors into other major religions as well, I am just not versed at all in the others.
The meditation, traditionally associated with Buddhism, is also called “metta” and there are actually even health benefits to regular use of Metta meditation. Among the benefits of regular lovingkindness meditation are increased overall feeling of well-being, decreased depression and a more positive approach to life overall. When you meditate, you are actually helping to train your brain’s pathways.
With lovingkindness meditations, the parts of your brain you are strengthening are related to empathy, compassion and love. Visualizing, or mentally practicing, a feeling or behavior helps makes the neural connections stronger. On a very basic, oversimplified level, this is neuroplasticity.
The Reason Why
So, by now, you may be asking yourself why you are reading about meditation on a blog about relationships. Fair enough. The first answer is that having a solid base for any relationship means having a good relationship with yourself. Truly being able to love yourself as you are, not when you achieve something specific, is hard but it’s important. Lovingkindness meditation helps you get there.
The second answer is that quality relationships require a strong base of friendship, compassion and admiration. Without those things, why bother. Directing love and positive intentions outward toward other people helps each of us strengthen those muscles for compassion and finding the good in others. Compassion really is the root of being able to forgive another in their frailty and in their mistakes. Being able to forgive is crucial to relationship success because each one of us messes up, even when we wish we wouldn’t.
Positive energy and acknowledging inter-relatedness helps us in the global “we” as well. Like it or not, we’re all in this crazy world together, so finding a way to direct peacefulness, joy and a release from suffering to those who are a real stretch for you can help you feel a sense of empowerment. You can’t control other people but you can send them love, even when you don’t approve of their behavior or even like them.
The very basic structure for lovingkindness meditation is to determine a set of phrases you would like to use to direct positive feeling and well being toward yourself and others.
The phrases at the beginning of this article are fairly common, with slight variations as you choose.
As you begin, you would likely spend time really focusing on directing your “metta” toward yourself until this becomes comfortable and easy. After that, you can expand to other groups. Depending on the teacher, there can be as few as 4 groups or as many as 6 groups toward whom you direct your meditations.
Using the phrases above, you would begin by concentrating on these statements:
“May I be peaceful. May I be joyful (or happy). May I be free from suffering..”
2) Someone you are thankful for or who has helped you.
“May (name) be peaceful. May s/he be joyful. May s/he be free from suffering.”
3) A loved one.
4) A neutral person.
5) Someone you are having problems with, someone you don’t like, someone with whom you disagree.
6) Everyone universally.
“May all beings be peaceful. May all beings be joyful May all beings be free from suffering.”
Build your base on lovingkindness. What have you got to lose besides your negativity?
Tell me how it goes below.
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