Mindful Mondays–Loving Kindness Meditation


F! feeling bad, let’s practice loving kindness!

This mindfulness practice actually makes you kind—to self and others. It also takes it easy on your body by taking you out of survival brain (fight flight or freeze) and calming anxiety.

How

Sit in a comfortable position where you can breathe easily and are not likely to be interrupted. Open or download the Loving Kindness Meditation/Metta Prayer Script to follow along–this is one of many variations of the practice.

  1. Recite through the first stanza three to five times while focusing on the love you have for you.
  2. Recite through the second stanza three to five times while focusing on the love you have for someone in your life that you care about.
  3. Recite through the second stanza three to five times while focusing love and kindness for someone in your life that you do not have a relationship with, like someone you pass on the street often.
  4. Recite through the second stanza three to five times while focusing love and kindness for someone with whom you have conflict.
  5. Recite through the last stanza three to five times focusing love and kindness toward all living things.

Why

Emotions

I am certain you can think of a time when you aggressively reacted to something only to discover later that your assumptions about the situation were misguided. Unattended anger, sadness, or anxiety can create barriers to your ability to feel compassion, empathy, and love toward you and others. Of course, there are quite a few ways to use mindfulness to observe your emotions to better address their needs, but this is a different approach.

Our words are important. What we say and what we hear becomes truth over time. People call it self-fulfilling prophecy, manifesting, or even priming. Where you focus your attention and the words you use to describe and define your situations influence your actions. If you consider the days you felt irritable, weren’t you more likely to think poorly of others? What about the days you felt accomplished, joyous, or grateful? The practice of focusing on love for the self and others while speaking loving words has a strong effect that builds over time. The more compassion you feel, the more opportunities for joy. The more opportunities for joy, the more you balance feelings of anger, anxiety, and sadness. Check out the science behind it, according to Seppala (2014) and Nunez (2020):

  • Increased positive emotions;
  • Decreased PTSD symptoms;
  • Reduces self-criticism; and,
  • Increases compassion.

Body

The mind and body are intimately connected. Even over short periods of time, what we say has physical changes in the body. Practicing the Loving Kindness Meditation increases the physical parts of the body that increase empathy. Your brain develops and adapts to exist in the environment it is in. When you focus your attention while saying the words, it reduces stress to provide relief from survival mode. This is important for your physical health, because when you are in survival mode you are wearing your body out–your muscles are tense, your breathing is shallow, and your heart pumps rapidly. Headaches, muscle pain, and other physical symptoms of unwellness (that also cause irritability) are often due to stress. Which explains why practicing loving kindness benefits us by (Seppala, 2014; Nunez 2020):

  • Slowing aging;
  • Increasing relaxation;
  • Increasing gray matter in the brain—related to emotion regulation;
  • Increasing emotional intelligence;
  • Decreasing pain; and,
  • Reducing migraines.

Social

Most of us experienced increased anxiety and decreased social interaction since the pandemic; however, anxiety has been increasing since before we were forced out of social situations. Technology (these very convenient computers we carry around in our pockets that are accessible at all times) interferes with brain functions that help us confidently move in our world—it robs us of our agency. Additionally, most of us are overly engaged in social media, which gives us a skewed perspective of others and how they live. Not only is it easier to be irritable with someone you can’t see face to face, but we are missing the hormonal reactions from doing so. Did you know that we release different hormones associated with empathy, compassion, and bonding when we are in the presence of others?

Practicing loving kindness combats this effect in the following ways by (Seppala, 2014; Nunez 2020):

  • Increasing motivation to help others;
  • Reducing bias toward others;
  • Increasing social connection; and,
  • Activating empathy.

If you are interested in increasing your ability to regulate your emotions, move through the world more purposefully, and manage overwhelming anger and anxiety, consider registering for the F! Feeling Bad program by signing up for your free consultation.


For more information about Loving Kindness, follow the links below:

5 Benefits of Metta Meditation and How to Do It – Nunez

18 Science-Backed Reasons to Try Loving-Kindness Meditation – Seppala

Metta Meditation: The Benefits, The Science Behind It, & How to Do It – Fisher

This Loving-Kindness Meditation is a Radical Act of Love – Kabat-Zinn

 

Disclaimer: This content is intended for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for mental health or medical treatment. It is important for those with clinical and medical diagnoses to receive the appropriate treatment from trusted and trained practitioners.