loving kindness meditation

This week in Yoga with our focus on Kindness we practiced a Loving Kindness (also known as metta) meditation.

It's a practice I do in the morning, based on who I'll be interacting with in the day ahead. Typically, however you work through 4 - 5 rounds as described below - here's the practice: ..

  1. Bring to mind someone who has been kind, and loving to you in your life - you might visualise them or sense them in your awareness; or simply say their name in your head. Send them these well wishes (repeat silently to yourself 'May you be happy, may you be well, may you live with ease' … repeating these phrases 3 times.). .. Take a pause after the 3 repetitions and you might like to notice if you feel any sensations in the ‘heart space’ around your chest. You may, or may not; there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Then let this person leave your awareness.

2. Next bring to mind a neutral person - someone you might pass in the street, at work, a neighbour - someone you have neutral thoughts towards; and repeat. send them these 'good vibes'.... 'May you be happy, may you be well, may you live with ease'... repeating 3 times. ..

3. Now a difficult person - not the most difficult person as this can be challenging. Start with someone you might not see eye to eye with or rubs you up the wrong way. Send them these heartfelt well wishes, as above. .. This is the most difficult part of the practice and can be challenging at first so don’t start with the most challenging person.

4. Finally, bring to mind yourself. It might be a vision of yourself now (how you look in the mirror), or a memory or a vision of a photo from the past; and send you these wishes of loving kindness 'May I be happy, may I be well, may I live with ease'. ..

You can also extend further by adding another round 'to all living beings'; known and unknown... ..

Another addition you may like to add is ‘may you be safe’. This could be added before ‘may you live with ease’.

It can take time for this practice to not feel awkward but give it a go as the benefits are great - in particular helping us to experience positive emotions in relation to self-acceptance and improved relationships and social connection; emotion regulation and stress reduction.