I first learned the loving kindness meditation during a training course. I had been so taken by it that I immediately began integrating it into my personal life. Over the years, I have brought it forward into my counselling practice.
The loving kindness meditation comes from the Buddhist tradition as a means to develop compassion. Its simple sentences aim to foster unconditional acceptance, love, and compassion for self as well as for others, with no expectation of anything in return.
In this post, I am sharing two versions of the loving kindness meditation. The first one is longer and may take approximately 10 minutes, and the second one is abbreviated for those days when we feel pressed for time.
Here are some suggestions on when to use the loving kindness meditation:
- To get centred in the morning and set your intention for the day. Take a few minutes each morning, and create space for loving kindness in your life.
- To tune your heart. Elisha Goldstein writes about using compassion to tune the heart, and places this action in the context of a natural antidepressant.
- To let go of the emotional journey of others, and still feel as though you are helping. There will be moments when we want to help those in our lives, but we can not carry their emotional suffering for them. The loving kindness meditation creates space for you to connect with compassion for others, in a way that honours their strength and ability. I have often directed my loving kindness meditation to my children, when they have appeared to be struggling with peers or with the pressures of adolescence. I have directed it toward my husband, when I have known he was entering into stressful times at work. I have directed it toward family members, when I have been keenly aware of the miles between us and my inability to reach out and hug them. When sitting with the loving kindness meditation, picture the individuals in your life, their inherent goodness, and their desire to be happy. Wish the words of the loving kindness meditation to them, with an open heart, unconditional acceptance, and without judgment.
The loving kindness meditation can help you cultivate compassion for self and others. Challenge yourself to use it daily for 2 weeks, and notice with curiousity the beneficial impact it can have on you and your relationships!
- The loving kindness meditation (as depicted in the first image) was shared with me by Counsellor Mahara Albert, in Vancouver BC, during the Stopping the Violence core training by EVA BC (2008)
- The shortened version of the loving kindness meditation (as depicted in the second image) is by Jack Kornfield
Prefer to have the meditation read to you? Check out these options:
Think it sounds selfish to nurture yourself? There are tons of great reasons why we should spend at least a small percentage of our time taking care of ourselves. Taking time out to care for yourself will actually sustain you in light of the busy schedules we keep and the fast-paced world we live in. And the best part? What we do to nurture ourselves doesn’t need to take a long time.
If it’s been a long time since you have considered doing something nurturing for yourself, check out this list of potential ideas. Some items on the list might sound great to you, and others might not. Think of the list as a way to get you started on considering what might be nourishing for you. Nurturing yourself is about identifying what your needs are – and taking small steps towards meeting them. What activity might you do that will bring you a sense of calm, or a sense of joy?
What will nurture you?
- Take a walk (or any form of exercise)
- Work or sit in your garden
- Try yoga (or an exercise class)
- Play with your pet (if you have one)
- Draw, paint, scrapbook, etc. – anything artistic
- Start reading a novel (or listen to an audio book)
- Take a moment to say some positive affirmations to yourself
- Cozy up on the couch with a favourite television show or movie
- Write in your journal: notice what has been going on for you lately, or explore what your own strengths are
- Take the time to learn about you – try counselling
- Walk in nature, take some pictures while there
- Ever thought of trying out an infra-red sauna? There are tons of health benefits linked with these and if you like warm temperatures, you might find it to be very relaxing! You don’t even have to buy one: many naturopath Physicians have them available in their clinics
- Enjoy a relaxing bath (or a soothing shower)
- Write to a friend (yes, many people still enjoy receiving snail mail letters!)
- Are you religious? Attend a service at your church
- Try knitting or crocheting (there might even be a knitting circle in your community)
- Do some tasty baking or cooking
- Learn something new (check out the classes offered at your recreation centre or community arts centre, or try an online course)
- Work on a hobby
- Start a puzzle
- Try a meditation
- Want to try a relaxation cd or guided imagery? The cool thing about guided imagery is that it has been proven effective even if you fall asleep while doing it! If you are interested in learning more, do a Google search for “free guided imagery”. Here are some additional suggestions if you are interested:
– Apps: Calm or Headspace
– CD or iTunes download: Jon Kabat-Zinn (mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation); Paul McKenna (visualization and self-hypnosis for optimizing personal potential); Tara Brach (mindfulness meditation). *just to mention a few – there are far too many amazing people in our world who offer meditation or relaxation to mention all of them here!
- Sometimes are self-nurturing moments involve others: Talk with a good friend or loving family member; Play a fun or silly game with your children; Try hiking together (or plan a fun outing together)
Chances are, if you are reading a blog about mindful parenting, you likely spend a great deal of time caring for others. How about taking a moment each week to treat yourself as kindly as you treat others? After all, you are worth your time!
This article was originally posted on October 3, 2010, to Happy Parents = Happy Kids (focusedonparenting.wordpress.com) by Susan Guttridge