There are many types of meditation, but the ‘Loving Kindness Meditation’ is the favorite one of many who practices the art of meditation because it helps keep the mind open and free from distraction. Oftentimes, this practice helps bring about a vital sense of balance to help support daily meditations.
The purpose of this form of meditation stems because everyday lives can be filled with varying degrees of suffering. The suffering can arise from a sickness or injury in which there is pain, from the loss of someone who is dear and loved, from friends or loved ones who have caused an emotional form of suffering, or even from stress in a job. This Loving Kindness Meditation helps individuals to develop skills that helps combat the assorted forms of suffering that is found in daily life. It helps to strengthen the mentality of unselfish love. In the words of the Dhammapada: “Hatred cannot coexist with loving-kindness, and dissipates if supplanted with thoughts based on loving-kindness,”
Practicing this Meditation
Practicing the loving kindness meditation provides distinct changes and produces a positive mental attitude, and eventually expands the quality of “loving acceptance”. For some people, it even becomes somewhat of their own form of psychotherapy to heal a mind that is wrought with trouble and eliminate the confusion, pain, and suffering that is permeating their daily thoughts. This meditation has an even greater benefit to eliminate old habits of negative thinking and change it to sweeter and kinder thought processes.
Loving kindness meditations is the initial stage of meditation that generates the four traits of love:
- Friendliness – expresses the warmth that embraces those around the home, office, and neighborhood.
- Compassion – the means to empathize with the struggles that others are experiencing, and are expressed in levels of concern.
- Appreciative Joy – the quality of being sincerely happy about the good fortune of others instead of harboring thoughts of jealousy.
- Equanimity of Love – the expression of acceptance and loving feelings towards all relationships and every situation encountered.
Methods of Practice
There are a variety of ways in which this loving kindness meditation can be practiced on a daily basis that are particularly helpful in times of stressful or painful situations. There are several steps in the first stage that can include:
- 1. Visualization – one step is to visualize being joyous about the situation or the person or situation which is being perceived as causing the negative feelings. See that person or situation surrounded with a feeling of joy, happiness, and serenity.
- 2. Reflection – another step is to reflect on the helpful qualities of the situation or the person and any acts that have been kind and constructive. Make a positive statement about the person, the situation, and be sure to surround yourself with positive words and phrases in this reflection. Remember the good things that have been accomplished and reflect on those wonderful loving deeds.
- 3. Mantras – one of the best steps is to have a mantra that can be repeated to snap into the feeling of loving and kind thoughts. It can be a full phrase, such as “I am surrounded by loving thoughts and kindness”, or it can be just a word, such as “Peace” or “Joy”.
These three practices are all useful to create positive loving feelings. The next stage is to radiate these feelings of loving kindness to all directions, and this is called Directional Pervasion. It permeates loving kindness from the center to every person and community through the planet and the universe.
By learning the ‘Loving Kindness Meditation’ techniques, it becomes much easier to refresh and recall the moments of those loving feelings that have been generated in an instant by applying a vision, a reflection, or a mantra, and bringing it back to the realm of understanding and thought.
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