Loving kindness meditations
Radical acts of compassion, loving-kindness meditations focus on goodwill, kindness and warmth to ourselves and others. We discover how to embrace deep compassion in our meditation
Imagine being able to send compassion to people about whom you feel conflicted. Just as there are meditations for focus, anxiety, breath, mantras, visualisations and body scans, there are meditations that focus on sending goodwill and compassion both inwards and outwards. Doing so opens your heart to kindness and love, and frees you from prejudice, jealousy and insecurity.
Loving-kindness meditation is a radical act of compassion for others, but it is also an act of compassion for yourself. Sending love to others, and doing it over and over again, opens your heart to receiving love. Learning to access loving-kindness from your own self is an important step to leading a resilient, joyful life of harmony and openheartedness.
Loving-kindness meditation is derived from the Buddhist practice of metta, which translates as care, friendliness, goodwill and benevolence. It might not be obvious how sitting in isolation and focusing on breath can benefit other people. But training your mind to be kinder and less judgmental has a positive effect on your relationships. ‘The more we meditate with loving-kindness in mind, the more we foster compassion and let go of judgment and hostility,’ says headspace.com. ‘The more we familiarise ourselves with our own pain and suffering, the more we understand the quiet suffering in others.’
Kindness to others starts with kindness to ourselves. Loving-kindness mediations are a potent force for recovery, healing and growth. They are best used over weeks or months. Repeat phrases that speak to you and go deeper each time. You’ll learn to visualise kindness and to adopt it into your daily language and actions. It will become an unconscious reflex.
‘Loving-kindness is meant to be done in the easiest way possible, so that the experience springs forth most gently, most naturally,’ explains Sharon Salzberg, meditation teacher, author and cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts. ‘Our job, so to speak, is just to say those phrases: to say them knowing what they mean but without trying to fabricate a feeling, without putting that overlay on top of it, of stress. Let your mind rest in the phrases, and let the phrases be meaningful to you.’
You can see key phrases overleaf. We’ve also showcased five of our favourite loving-kindness meditations. These are designed to be used on a daily basis, so that each day your practice strengthens and deepens.
‘What emerges in such moments,’ notes professor and mindfulness pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn, ‘is nothing less than loving kindness itself, arising naturally from extended silence, without any invitation – because it’s never not already here.’
Our favourite loving-kindness meditations
Loving Kindness Meditation to Develop Mindfulness and Compassion by WiseMindBody
Gentle but insightful, this lovely meditation is a great introduction to loving-kindness.
Guiding Loving KindnessMeditation By Sharon Salzberg
A powerful meditation that focuses on sending loving-kindness to people about whom we feel neutral or conflicted.
Traditional Loving Kindness Meditation by Live Sonima
This excellent short meditation features an inspiring video, making it a great option if you’re meditating on-the-go and find it hard to close your eyes or concentrate.
This Loving-Kindness Meditation Is a Radical Act of Love by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Jon Kabat-Zinn leads a heartscape meditation for the deep healing of ourselves and others.
Loving Kindness Metta Meditation The Honest Guys – Meditations – Relaxation
A soothing and calming half-hour. You can really zone out with this one.
Key loving-kindness phrases for yourself and others
May I/you be safe
May I/you be healthy
May I/you be happy
May I/you be at ease
May I/you be peaceful
May I/you be strong
May I/you have the power
to accept and forgive
May I/you love and appreciate
May I/you have the power to
accept anger and sadness
May I/you be filled with