Loving-Kindness Meditation (sometimes also called ‘metta’ meditation) is a formal mindfulness method to develop and increase (self-)compassion. As a form of single-focus meditation, it uses the repetition of compassionate words or phrases as an anchor for awareness.
Loving-Kindness Meditation origins in the Buddhist tradition, but it can be practiced by everyone who wishes to live more peaceful and happier. It is a very beginner-friendly meditation technique as no meditation experience, or specific posture is needed.
The goal of Loving-Kindness meditation is not only the cultivation of self-compassion but compassion for all other beings. When reflecting on loving-kindness, we make the wish that all living beings (including ourselves) may be happy, healthy, peaceful, calm, cared for, and loved.
A typical Loving Kindness Meditation consists of four steps:
- Setting an intention makes the meditation meaningful. The practitioner can choose their own words (e.g. “May I/you/everyone be happy.”), which makes it very accessible for meditation beginners as they don’t have to follow a stranger’s script. However, guided Loving-Kindness Meditations can be a good option when the practitioner needs a little inspiration for finding the right words.
- Developing focused attention and present awareness by repeating the phrase calms the mind and the nervous system. Repetitions are an easy way to avoid being distracted by unhelpful thoughts.
- Noticing the positive emotions that emerge during the meditation makes us aware of the good and healing thoughts and feelings we have inside us and that we can share with others.
- Connecting to those emotions contributes to our general happiness in life.
Practicing and cultivating loving-kindness not only teaches us how to befriend ourselves. It also reminds us that all living beings are worth the same and deserve a happy, healthy, and peaceful life.
Here is an example of a guided 4-minute Loving-Kindness Meditation:
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