Loving-Kindness Meditation: What Is It, and How Does It Work?

What Is Loving-Kindness Meditation?

The popularity of meditation has been on the rise for a few decades. More and more people are discovering the amazing benefits of such a simple act, an act that was shunned as something esoteric and pure myth. With many famous proponents, loving-kindness meditation has been the type of meditation that caught on in the west, more than any other type. But, what is loving-kindness meditation really and how does it work?

The original Buddhist term is Maitri, with no real comparison in the English language. The Buddhist nun Pema Chodron (born Deidre Bloomfield Brown in the year 1934) was one of the first and most prominent Buddhist thinkers of western origin who manned to coin and explain the term loving-kindness.

Loving Kindness Meditation Benefits

When you start to snoop around online about meditation, one thing that you are sure to find is a list of benefits. While there are a lot of unproven claims, such as lists that claim you might get something similar to superpowers, we have gathered all the important aspects and can present to you the most important, fact-based loving-kindness meditation benefits.

  • Learn how to deal with pain – A lot of people in our sick, modern society deal with chronic pains. In most cases, they are migraines or something that is related to their way of life. With this type of meditation, you will combat the sources of your discomfort. But, that is not all. You will also start to realize the pain, explore it, and learn to live with it. Subtle changes in our attitude and way of life can help us deal and minimize pain.
  • Improves sleeping quality – There are few among us who can boast about sleeping well and sleep for more than 6 or 7 hours every night. But this type of meditation heals and mends your sleeping habits. Sleep is very important for our overall health. A lot of people can’t get enough quality sleep due to anxiety and stress. Learn loving kindness and you will be reborn every night. If you are one of those people who struggle with sleep be sure to try this loving-kindness guided meditation for sleep,
  • Decreases PTSD symptoms – Our beloved veterans are often neglected in society. They struggle to bring peace and calm to our countries and minds. But, in the process of doing that their own minds and souls get tangled up in a whirlwind of stress and mental disorder. If you know such a person, a proud veteran who is struggling with a mental illness of this sort, be sure to suggest some loving-kindness meditation to them. They might give you a funny look or two, but after a couple of tries, they will be thanking you.
  • It improves you as a person – it might sound like a cliche, but it is true. With time and practice, you learn to love and understand yourself and others. We all get annoyed by small things other people do. But with this type of meditation, you will see just how little there is under people’s control. You will know that as you make mistakes for specific reasons, so do others as well. You will be loving, happy, understandable, patient, and that will radiate from you onto others who will cross your path.

How Does Loving-Kindness Meditation Work?

Does loving-kindness meditation work? The short answer is yes. A resounding yes as a matter of fact. There have been multiple studies all over the world that have taken a look at what exactly meditation does to the body and mind. One of the more famous studies looked at brain health and brain aging. They separated people into different groups, depending on the amount of time that they spend meditating. The results astounded them. It turns out that monks who meditate for an hour or more daily had brains that, looking at them with CT scans, look ten years younger than they should be in people their age. Other studies have shown that it helps with gray matter volume, that it decreases anxiety, and PTSD and helps promote healthy habits such as working out, positive emotions, and quality sleep.

What Is The Metta Prayer?

There are many prayers in the loving-kindness way of Buddhism, but that is one that sticks out for its generosity and positive, both towards ourselves and everyone else in our life, and that prayer is the Metta prayer. While reciting the Metta prayer, one confronts and blesses oneself. Afterward, you expand everything good in your towards the world around you, people known and unknown. In most cases, reciting the prayer once or twice a week is enough for it to have a transformative effect on your daily wellbeing.

How To Practice Loving-Kindness Meditation?

To practice loving-kindness you need what we all lack, a bit of time especially reserved for yourself. Be sure to isolate yourself from others during this period. The place needs to be both silent and comfortable, so you can be truly alone with yourself. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and notice how your body begins to relax.

Now, some traditions ask that you sit in a particular position and repeat certain mantras or phrases, but if you are a total newbie, just pick a sitting or lying position that helps you relax and is comfortable. Just don’t make it too comfortable, or else you will fall asleep during your meditation.

As your body relaxes you start to love yourself. Be grateful for everything that you have. Find things that you love about yourself and start feeling happy about all the blessings in your life. After you have found compassion, understanding, and love for yourself, look outwards. Imagine the people who you love or care deeply about and bring them into the aura of those exciting feelings that you felt for yourself just a moment ago. This would be a perfect example of loving-kindness meditation for yourself.

When you start to snoop around online about meditation, one thing that you are sure to find is a list of benefits. While there are a lot of unproven claims, such as lists that claim you might get something similar to superpowers, we have gathered all the important aspects and can present to you the most important, fact-based loving-kindness meditation benefits.

How Long To Do Loving-Kindness Meditation?

It all depends on the amount of time that you can gift yourself on a daily basis. If you are expecting a scenario like this: You do the whole loving-kindness meditation for a while, you get better and stop doing it thinking those newfound feelings are for the rest of your life, you are mistaken. To reap the full benefits of this type of meditation, you need to practice it daily, for as long as you are alive. There are no shortcuts. It is something that you do and with a bit of luck and perseverance, it is something that you have become.

But, in most cases, one session of loving-kindness meditation can last between 5 minutes and a couple of hours. If you are a beginner, it would be beneficial if you decrease the amount of your ambition and start shorter with 10 – 15-minutes.  It might not seem like a lot, but even 10 minutes a day, can have a huge impact on you. In just 2 weeks you will start to notice subtle changes in your attitude towards chores, work, people, positivity, and negativity. Once you start falling in love with loving-kindness and are able to carve out bigger chunks of your day, you can move on to a 30-minute loving-kindness meditation or one even longer than that.

Famous Names In Loving Kindness Meditation

There are a lot of famous people who spread the word and are devout meditators. Some of the names might even surprise you. For example, a lot of people are shocked to find out that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a lifelong fan of meditation. But he does not only do loving-kindness but also mindfulness and transcendental meditation.

Another fan is David Lynch the most creative and unique film director of the last 30 years. If you know a creative person who struggles to put on work that they are happy with, show them the way David Lynch approaches loving-kindness meditation and their creative vowes might just come to an end.

But the big names in Loving Kindness Meditation are people like Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra (who managed to influence Oprah and turn her into someone who meditates regularly), Sharon Salzberg, Pema Chodron, Tara Brach.

If you are a true beginner we would suggest that you look up a few guided meditations such as loving-kindness meditation by Sharon Salzberg  or Dalai lama’s loving-kindness meditation,

To get you in the proper mood and motivate you, be sure to look up some Deepak Chopra loving-kindness meditation phrases or some quotes by the lovely Pema Chodron, the rock on which modern western understanding of loving-kindness was built.

We suggest you get to know more about loving-kindness and maybe give it a try!

The noble journey from fear to fearlessness . Pema Chodron

Loving Kindness Meditation to develop mindfulness and compassion

Spoken self hypnosis forgiveness

Must Read

Related Articles