What is Loving Kindness Meditation
Loving Kindness Meditation is basically a practice where we develop loving kindness.
We introduce the practice HERE on our website.
This post is really just to expand on that, give a bit more information for those who are interested!!!
The Structure of the Practice
There are five stages to the practice. That can seem quite a lot if we’re not that used to meditating!!
But we can consider just starting with stages one, two, and five. And when we feel comfortable, we can add stages two and three. What follows is a summary of all five stages of the practice.
➜ To Begin…
So we can start as we usually do, with a quick Body Scan
. Here we basically scan through the body from the bottom of the foot to the top of the head, directing our awareness
to the different parts as we go. Then we feel the whole body as one, check in with our thoughts, and check in with our feelings – to give us an overall sense of how we are right now, in this moment.
➜ Stage 1
In the first stage, we look to develop a positive response to ourselves. This could be friendliness, interest, or kindness towards ourselves – wishing ourselves happiness and freedom from the stress and suffering of life.There are various tips and tricks we can use to develop this intention and feeling of loving kindness. A few are listed below.
For example, we could start by just reciting the phrase internally: “May I be well. May I be free from suffering. My I be able to deal with all that life throws my way“, or something like that.
The idea is that once we are in contact with a positive response towards ourselves, by just giving that response our attention, it will naturally grow.
If we are in recovery, we might find it difficult to connect with this stage. But we can congratulate ourselves for even being here, reading about meditation, or for getting to the chair or cushion to meditate. In fact, whatever small step we have taken to move forward in our lives, we can rejoice in that.
This is not about being perfect. Nor is it about being someone or something that we are not. We all have our faults. But we all have our good points too. The simple fact that we are here reading this means we want to change. We can rejoice in that!
➜ Stage 2
In Stage 2, we stay in touch with the feeling generated from Stage 1. Then we bring to mind a good friend. We can think about inviting our friend into our awareness, or we can thing about directing awareness to our good friend, whichever seems best.Usually we use someone who is of the same sex, that we are not sexually attracted to, who is not family, and who is alive. These are guiding principles which keep the meditation simple and free from such things as complicated emotional ties such as sexual desire, lust, and grief.
However, there are many people in recovery who do not have a good friend. In this case, use the person who you feel you could most likely have a response of loving kindness towards.
In Stage 2 we work creatively to contact, develop, and deepen loving kindness towards our good friend, using similar methods to Stage 1.
➜ Stage 3
In Stage 3, we bring to mind a ‘neutral’ person. This is someone for whom we have no clear like or dislike. Maybe it’s someone we see every day but they don’t really register with us.This stage is about generating a response to someone when there seems no real reason to do so. The truth is that most of the world are ‘neutral’ to us. By transforming our response to the ‘neutral person’, we transform the way we relate to the world.
We look for ways to contact loving kindness for them and then develop and deepen it. This may mean ‘bringing them to life’ in our minds, giving them a story – reflecting that they too want to be happy and free from suffering.
Reflecting that they too have likes and dislikes, hopes and fears, family and friends, and so on. Reflecting on what we have most deeply in common, or simply taking an imaginative interest in them.
➜ Stage 4
In Stage 4 we turn our attention to a ‘difficult’ person. Try not to use someone too difficult. Just someone we may have had a slight disagreement with, or not seen eye-to-eye with.This is because the meditation is not so much about fixing problems as changing our habitual response to people we meet in the world.
In Stage 4, we try to experience how we actually feel towards them. Then we try to cultivate a fresh and kinder, more loving response, perhaps looking for a deeper understanding of them.
➜ Stage 5
In Stage 5 we bring to mind all four people and try to have an equal response to them all. We do this for a minute or two, then start to expand out. To everyone in the building where we are, to the roads and streets around.Then we broaden out further to include those in the local area, the country, the world. We can even bring to mind other forms of life – all life even. We can expand out as far as we want, throughout time and throughout space!
➜ To End
To end, we relax our effort. We sit for a few moments and absorb the results of the meditation. We become aware of ourselves sitting in the room.Maybe we can listen to the sounds around us. We can notice if there is any change in our thoughts and emotions from engaging with the practice.
When we are ready, we can open our eyes.