Mindfulness is about cultivating an attentive awareness of the current moment with compassionate non-judgmental attention. Sometimes practitioners are challenged with the compassionate non-judgmental aspect of that situation. That is where a loving-kindness meditation comes in.
Before we get into the “how”, let’s talk for a moment about the “why”. When we practice mindfulness, we want to be fully present in this current moment so we can make the best use of it. But it wouldn’t serve that purpose well if we were highly stressed and angry in this present moment. That would deluge our body with stress hormones, raise our blood pressure, and cause a host of other issues.
Instead, the aim is to be present with a calm, focused energy, so we can make the best possible use of this moment.
Compassion lets us view this moment with calm understanding. It lets us explore what we see and to work with it in the best way we can. Yes, our co-worker’s tone of voice might bother us. We can observe our anger rising and understand it. We can then consider solutions which move us toward our goal. It’s not that we dismiss the emotion. We acknowledge it. We are compassionate with ourself for feeling it. We then look for a way to handle it.
A loving-kindness meditation is also known as a “metta” meditation. Here’s how to do it.
To begin with, sit or lie down comfortably. Your eyes can be soft-focused or closed. Breathe in a long, deep, slow breath. Think about someone you love dearly. They can be alive or passed on. Feel the love flowing from them. Bask in that warmth.
Breathe. Think about a second person you love. Fill your thoughts with the people who love you and who you love. They can be pets. They can be book characters. What matters is creating that sense of love and compassion.
Now send love toward these visions. I wish you happiness. I wish you joy.
Breathe. Expand your group to include friends and others you care for. I wish you happiness. I wish you joy.
Breathe. Expand the group further to include neutral people. These people also shoulder challenges. I wish you happiness. I wish you joy.
Breathe. Now expand out so the Earth is a beautiful sphere floating in space. Think of all the intricate interwoven life on that planet. I wish you happiness. I wish you joy.
The more you practice a loving-kindness meditation on a regular basis, the easier it becomes to feel that connection with others further outside your immediate realm. Over time, the sense grows that we are all part of a global community, each navigating our short, brief moment on this Earth we all share.