Loving Kindness Meditation | Buddhist Botox

May 25, 2020

 

Let love flow so that it cleanses the world. — Sai Baba

 

Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM), or Metta Bhavana, is about cultivating compassion and love — unconditional, inclusive love. A love with wisdom. But it isn’t all just “groovy” and “give peace a chance.” Science is now backing what Buddhists have known about this ancient, powerful practice since way before the Summer of Love — and it’s age defying.

 

Adaptable for anyone, regardless of religious affiliation, Metta, or LKM, is the practice of wishing one’s self and others to be happy, safe, peaceful, healthy and content, through visualization and mentally repeating a series of phrases. Metta is a method of developing friendliness, consideration, generosity and empathy. It is the recognition of solidarity with others, the desire that all sentient beings be well, the basis for compassion and shared joy, the most fulfilling emotional state that we can know — our inherent potential. Metta is boundless. Metta is an attitude.

 

So, how do we cop the ‘tude and minimize wrinkles?

 

We begin with ourselves — we need some unconditional love and acceptance in order to extend it to others. Then we include those special to us, our tribe. And, ultimately, all living things. Gradually, the meditation phrases and visualizations blend into the actual experience — the feeling of Loving Kindness.

 

This practice softens the mind and opens the heart to deeper levels of kindness, of pure love. It is a process of breaking down barriers that we feel toward ourselves and others.

As meditation research has recently become prevalent, science has taken interest in the effects of Metta, or Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM), on the mind and body. Rockstar contemplatives, such as the Dalai Lama, have helped prove that kindness and compassion produce astonishing, quantifiable biological effects, and that LKM boasts benefits unique to other types of meditation.

 

Emotionally — A pivotal study, by positive psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson, showed that practicing nine weeks of Loving Kindness Meditation boosted positive emotions. This positivity flowed into increasing life satisfaction and self-compassion, and reducing depression, self-criticism and even stress headaches.

 

“The practice of LKM led to shifts in people’s daily experiences of a wide range of positive emotions, including love, joy, gratitude, contentment, hope, pride, interest, amusement, and awe. These shifts in positive emotions took time to appear and were not large in magnitude, but over the course of nine weeks, they were linked to increases in a variety of personal resources, including mindful attention, self-acceptance, positive relationships with others, and good physical health… They enabled people to become more satisfied with their lives and to experience fewer symptoms of depression.” — Barbara Fredrickson

 

Physically — So LKM reduces the stress response, no big surprise, but investigations into the impact of LKM on the body’s inflammatory and neuroendocrine system are. High-practice groups (daily meditators) saw a significant decrease in inflammation relative to low-practice and no-practice groups. Not only can LKM subjectively lessen distress but it can impact the body’s physiology. Whoa! Buuut this only happened for those who actively engaged — at least a little practice each day was needed to produce change.

 

Socially — LKM amps social connectedness, even for strangers. A study conducted at Stanford University found that after just seven minutes of LKM, subjects reported greater connection toward others. Feelings of social connection can predict changes in vagal tone — a physiological measurement of resilience and overall well-being!

 

Super powerful stuff emerges in only ten minutes of practice. Many begin to cry. Others spontaneously, softly cover their heart with their hand. Some physically relax. And afterward, when participants look around at each other, the sense of connection is tangible. Even just a few minutes creates a shift! And with a little practice, LKM has the potential not only to deepen our union with ourselves, but to foster connection and care for others.

 

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” — The Dalai Lama

 

Neurologically — So LKM positively impacts our emotions, our physical health, and our sense of connection. But does that translate to brain change? Neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections) tells us that what we think, do, and pay attention to changes the structure and function of our brains. And neuroscientific meditation researcher Richard Davidson says yes too!

 

Two groups were invited into his lab: those with at least 10,000 hours of LKM under their meditative belt, and those new to meditation. Both hit the fMRI scanner to see how LKM would impact the brain, and results clearly showed that the practice of LKM changed the insula and the temporoparietal junction (TPJ) — regions of the brain responsible for our ability to process empathy and attune to the emotional states of others. The experienced meditators showed a lot more activation — they felt higher levels of compassion than the newbies.

 

Youthfully — Feelings of stress produce stress hormones (such as adrenalin and cortisol), feelings associated with kindness produce kindness hormones (like oxytocin, aka, the love drug). Stress increases blood pressure, kindness reduces it. So stay cool, stay young. But there’s more.

 

At the University of North Carolina, before and after six weeks of meditation, researchers measured the length of telomeres. Telomeres are end caps on DNA, like the plastic tips on shoelaces — they help prevent DNA from unravelling, which prolongs the life of cells. They reduce in length throughout life, so telemeres give a highly accurate indication of age and rate of ageing.

 

The study entailed comparing the length of telomeres in people who practiced either LKM, mindfulness meditation, or no meditation at all. While telomere length reduced in the mindfulness meditation group and in the control group, it did not decrease in the LKM’ers – feelings of kindness and compassion seem to slow ageing at the genetic level!

 

Want some?! — Tune into my guided meditation or have a dose of this…

 

 

 

Loving Kindness Meditation — Metta Bhavana — Find a very comfortable posture. This meditation is meant to help you feel good, so make you’re relaxed and comfy. Begin to focus on your chest, your heart center, Anahata Chakra. Breathe in and out from there, as if you are breathing through your heart, as if all experience is happening from there. Anchor your mindfulness on the sensations of the heart. The lungs inflating, ribcage expanding, skin across the chest stretching…

 

Breathing in and out from the heart center, begin by generating kindness and warmth toward yourself. Notice areas of mental blockage, numbness, self-judgment, self-hatred. Then drop beneath that to the place where you care for yourself, where you want strength and health and safety for yourself.

 

Continue to breathe in and out. In your mind, repeat these traditional phrases:

May I be safe from harm.
May I be happy just as I am.
May I be peaceful with whatever is happening.
May I be healthy and strong.
May I care for myself in this ever-changing world graciously, joyously.

 

Breathe a while.

 

Now consider a person who invokes a feeling of pure, unconditional love, love that does not depend upon getting anything back. Someone you adore, such as your child or sibling, or someone you consider a mentor. Perhaps a parent, grandparent, teacher, one toward whom it takes no effort at all to feel respect and reverence, someone who immediately elicits the feeling of care. Visualize their face, maybe their voice, the way they feel…

 

Repeat the phrases for this person:

May they be safe from harm.
May they be happy just as they are.
May they be peaceful with whatever is happening.
May they be healthy and strong.
May they care for themself in this ever-changing world graciously, joyously.

Feel strong, unconditional, sparkling love for that being. Breathe as long as you’d like.

 

Move on to a dear friend. See them, hear them, feel them whilst breathing in and out through your heart center.

 

Repeat:

May they be safe from harm.
May they be happy just as they are.
May they be peaceful with whatever is happening.
May they be healthy and strong.
May they care for themself in this ever-changing world graciously, joyously.

 

Breathe.

 

Consider a neutral person, someone for whom you feel neither strong like nor dislike. Maybe their image is a bit blurry, as they’re harder to visualize, you don’t know them as well.

 

Allow yourself to feel tenderness, loving care for their welfare, as you repeat:

May they be safe from harm.
May they be happy just as they are.
May they be peaceful with whatever is happening.
May they be healthy and strong.
May they care for themself in this ever-changing world graciously, joyously.

 

Breathe. Be.

 

Now, someone you with whom you struggle — perhaps you harbor resentment or even hostile feelings. Picture them. Breathe in through your heart. Breathe out through your heart.

 

You may preface the phrases with, “To the best of my ability I wish that you be….”:

May they be safe from harm.
May they be happy just as they are.
May they be peaceful with whatever is happening.
May they be healthy and strong.
May they care for themself in this ever-changing world graciously, joyously.

 

Breathe. Feel.

 

Let these words of Loving Kindness, Metta, spread through your whole body, mind, and heart. Tune into the warm, tender Loving Kindness at the center of your being. Inhale, and it grows, expanding to the outer most layers of you. Exhale and it shines profusely from your being, into the space above you, higher and higher, until you can look back and see yourself, comfortable wherever you are. Higher you go, until you can see the whole city, the entire country, the continent, the planet. As you radiate Loving Kindness out to all, begin to feel a sense of connection with all living beings.

 

May all beings everywhere be safe, happy, peaceful, healthy, strong, and joyful.

 

Inhale, your heart fills and overflows. Exhale, and you begin to slowly come closer to Earth. Inhale, hovering above your beautiful planet. Exhale, and the continent comes into view. Inhale, your heart is beating beautifully. Exhale and your country comes into perspective. Inhale. Exhale and you cruise closer to your location. Inhale. Exhale, closer yet. Inhale. Exhale and you’re hovering above yourself, aglow with Metta. Inhale. Exhale and you gently settle back into you.

 

Breathe.

 

The phrases are simply a conduit for the force of Loving Kindness. Through them, empower your imagination to touch the hearts of all life in the universe, unconditionally and inclusively. Sense of the profound interconnectedness of all creatures, all life.

 

Loving Kindness is not just for formal practice. Take your good vibes into the world — home, work, relationships, globally. Applying the practice to daily life means continuously cultivating a friendly attitude and openness toward everyone, without discrimination.

 

Metta is lovingkindness. Friendliness. Consideration. Generosity. Empathy. Recognition of the most basic solidarity that we have with others.

 

“Groovy!”

 

You look ten years younger! Do you feel it?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

Featured Posts

Real Yoga

October 9, 2017

1/1
Please reload

Recent Posts

June 22, 2020

November 5, 2019

October 2, 2019

September 10, 2019

August 12, 2019

Please reload

Archive
Please reload

Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square