WHAT IS LKM?
Loving-kindness meditation or ‘Metta’ meditation is a great technique to boost well-being, help with comparison jealousy and reduce stress. I started practicing this when I felt myself suffering with stress related to social media and comparison. I never felt like I was doing enough and I began feeling jealous and and annoyed constantly. I began to feel a greater capacity for forgiveness, connection to others and self-acceptance once I started doing LKM at the start of my day.
Metta meditation usually starts with the self, as Buddha said ‘unless we treat ourselves with love and compassion, we cannot reflect the same on others.’ Sometimes this is the hardest thing to do as we are so used speaking to ourselves negatively being more cruel to ourselves than anyone else. After yourself you move onto someone who you love (this tends to be the easiest part of the meditation), then on a neutral person who you don’t know very well. You then focus your attention to someone you have conflict with or have negative feelings towards. Finally you focus on all living things in the world.
When you work on LKM you improve your self-compassion, focus and attention, and a deep sense of emotional strength.
THERE ARE 5 AREAS OF FOCUS
- Someone you love
- Conflict person
- All living things
You focus on a different person and visualise them with your eyes closed. You then repeat the same or similar positive statements and imagine yourself saying it to them or sending them the message. HOW TO PRACTICE
This meditation is mega flexible and totally straightforward. Here’s what will make your practice easier and more effective
1. Carve out some time and commit. Try to be consistent and practice this every day or at least a few times a week. A silent break at work would work just fine!
2. Always start with you. Think about the message on planes about putting your air mask on first…same thing applies here! Try to notice what changes within you after each session.
3. Set a timer. You can do this for as little as 2 minutes a day. We CAN ALL find 2 minutes a day! As you progress you can increase the time and practice accordingly. Timers prevent distraction and worry about time.
4. Once you get comfortable with yourself you will start to find it easier to send these messages to those you love, feel neutral to, those you have any kind of conflict with (this helped me) and the whole wide world!
5. Try jotting down a few thoughts after each session to see the progress you’re making! Sharing the feelings helps in enhancing awareness about how the meditation helped you and provides enthusiasm to continue practicing in the future.
6. Get comfy! If you are obsessing about the way you’re sitting or how your clothing feels you’ll struggle to stay focused on the meditation. Some comfort factors include:
7. Create an atmosphere. Regulating the amount of light that is in the room-not too dark (sleepy) not too bright (hard to focus)
8. Minimising the amount of noise – turn your phone off, radio, TV, kids off if you can!
BENEFITS OF LOVING KINDNESS MEDITATION
The practice has a long-lasting impact on our mind and our body and kick-starts a ripple effect of positivity that is truly empowering. Some of the proven benefits of loving-kindness meditation include:
1. Less self-criticism
It becomes difficult to be hard on yourself when you are repeating kind words to yourself like “May you be well,” “May you be happy,” “May you be healthy.” This infuses a deep sense of self worth, appreciation, gratitude and encouragement. First we are kind to ourselves then we can be kind to others. Quiet the inner critic.
2. More positive emotions
The more you practice this style of meditation the more it can enhance the part of the brain that boosts a sense of positivity and reduce negativity. The positivity loving-kindness meditation generates positive energy from the outside and improves the quality of life and life satisfaction permanently.
3. Reduced pain symptoms
As you work on this meditation and create a more positive and happy state of mind you can also start to see signals of pain lessen too. Things like back pain, migraines and shoulder pain have been shown to reduce.
4. More resilience
Practicing and setting a routine of any meditation is going to have a strengthening effect of your ability to stick with something, especially when it can be difficult. You learn to be more accepting of your self and others and control your emotions that can distract you and effect your mental health.
WANT TO TRY IT OUT?
Here is a 10 minute LKM that you can practice