One of my favorite meditation practices is the Buddhist Metta (lovingkindness) meditation. The idea being that we extend a feeling of goodwill, happiness, love, contentment- really, whatever you want to call it- to ourselves and the world around us. It doesn’t have to be time consuming at all. 5-10 minutes usually is enough to bubble up some good feelings, a calm mind, and an open heart. (And, if you are someone who feels you ‘can’t meditation’ because your mind is too active, this is a great way to give your brain something to focus on!)
Beginning in a comfortable seated position, begin to bring the awareness to the breath. Not altering your natural breathing patterns in any way, but just watching the natural rising and falling of the breath.
Imagine yourself in your mind’s eye. (I like to think of myself holding me as I would Clara… but whatever way works for you is great)
Repeating the words, silently, but with your full attention, in regards to yourself:
May I be filled with loving kindness, May I be well, May I be peaceful and at ease, May I be happy.
Repeating this to yourself a few times, on your own behalf. If you are feeling particularly crummy, or, if you find that you have a block (meaning no feeling for yourself comes up) you may just want to spend the entire time focusing on sending yourself loving kindness. Also, if the words don’t work for you, feel free to alter them to express your unique feeling of metta.
The next person to send loving kindness to is someone you love very much- I generally do both Erick and Clara in this category. Notice if you find it easier to generate a feeling of goodwill for someone other than yourself!
Next, would be someone you feel neutral about. The store clerk, an aquaintance,etc. Again, noticing how easy or difficult it is to offer love and compassion to this person.
Following the neutral person, choose a difficult person. Someone that you are upset with. I don’t recommend starting with someone that you cannot stand, but maybe someone you love that you are not getting along with. Don’t try and torture yourself with the practice!! Take time to note the ease with which you can offer this to a difficult person.
Last, send loving kindness to everyone that you have in this exercise and begin to project an ever-widening circle of loving kindness, beginning with your neighborhood, and then expanding outward to your city, your state, your country, and finally encompassing the whole world and all beings enhabiting the planet with your compassion, love, and peace.
Metta meditation creates an open-heart, softening, and compassion for ourselves and others. Try it and see for yourself. You won’t be sorry.