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Send Peace and Happiness Into the World: Loving Kindness Meditation

June 04, 2015 | By Jocelyn Mercado

This New Moon, discover the power of the loving kindness meditation to reduce stress, a decrease inflammation, and increase ability to empathize with others, including strangers.

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About Our New Moon Actions

In many time-honored cultures, the New Moon symbolizes potential and embodies a portal for a new vision. The moon’s 28-day cycle from New Moon to Full Moon mirrors the powerful feminine energy, epitomizing the process of creation to manifestation. Working in consort with these cycles is a powerful way to realize our dreams. From this space, on a monthly basis, Pachamama Alliance offers practices and actions to realign with our values for a thriving, just, and sustainable world for all.

The Loving Kindness Meditation

The practice of loving kindness or metta is one of the ten paramitas (the Ten Perfections or virtues that all people must strive for) of the Theravada School of Buddhism. Metta can also be described as benevolence, good will, kindness, or love without clinging. There are many versions of this type of meditation, but they typically involve cultivating benevolence in a progression, beginning with oneself, then moving on to a friend or loved one, then a “neutral” person, a difficult person, and gradually the entire universe.

Ancient texts identified a number of benefits from the practice of metta:

“One sleeps easily, wakes easily, dreams no evil dreams. One is dear to human beings, dear to non-human beings. The devas protect one. Neither fire, poison, nor weapons can touch one. One's mind gains concentration quickly. One's complexion is bright. One dies unconfused and – if penetrating no higher – is headed for the Brahma worlds.”

Cultivating benevolence is also believed to contribute to the overall peace and happiness of the world.

Modern studies have shown that the regular practice of loving kindness offers a reduced stress response, a decrease in inflammation, and an increased ability to empathize with others, including strangers.

Practicing the meditation for 15 to 20 minutes per day is ideal, but even if you can only do 2 to 3 minutes per day, you will likely notice positive benefits.

How to Practice

Begin with yourself. Until you can love yourself, it is difficult to truly love others. Take a few deep breaths to clear your mind. Then slowly recite the following words inwardly, focusing on your own well-being:

May I be filled with loving kindness.

May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.

May I be well in body and mind.

May I be at ease and happy.

You can picture yourself as you are now, or as a child, or at any time in your life that feels right to you and allows you to open your heart with kindness toward yourself. For some, it will be a challenge to accept this gift of heartfelt kindness from oneself. If you find that you are struggling, it is especially important to be patient with yourself, and open to whatever thoughts arise with deep affection and compassion. Calmly allow any negative feelings to release.

Repeat these words and loving images until you can feel the power of loving kindness surrounding you and filling your being.

Once you are comfortable sending loving kindness to yourself, choose a beloved person in your life, and slowly recite these words while thinking carefully of the person:

May you be filled with loving kindness.

May you be safe from inner and outer dangers.

May you be well in body and mind.

May you be at ease and happy.

Fully feel the vibration of loving kindness all around you and within you, before moving on.

Next you can extend loving kindness to whomever you choose. It is best to move gradually from people who you love and care for, to people who you feel netural about, to people for whom it is difficult for you to feel any compassion.

Some recommendations are:

  • Friends and family members
  • Companion animals in your life
  • Someone you work with
  • Someone you are neutral towards, such as a cashier at the grocery store
  • A person you are currently having difficulty with

Expand Your Circle of Compassion

Send the energy of loving kindness out to more distant groups. For these, you can shorten the meditation a bit, for example: “May all communities nearby be safe, happy, healthy, and free from suffering.”

Here are some recommendations for groups outside of your immediate reach:

  • All points of the compass: Send loving kindness to the north, south, east, and west
  • All humans
  • All animals
  • All humans and animals in difficult places
  • All beings in the air, on land, and in the water
  • All beings everywhere, on all planes of existence

After you have completed your meditation, carry your peace and compassion along with you to your next activity. Try to send love toward all people with whom you have contact in the next 5 minutes, the next hour, or the rest of the day. You will find that your openness toward others increases and your inner peace expands. Imagine the energy of your loving kindness resonating out into the universe and raising the level of joy and harmony felt by all beings.

Featured image: Nelumno nucifera open flower

Waking Up to Our True Place in the Universe

In this special e-guide John Perkins, best-selling author and co-founder of The Pachamama Alliance, discusses the core – or “divine” – self we all have within us, what keeps us from fully connecting with this core self, and what becomes possible when we shed the layers keeping us from remembering who we really are.

Download the full e-guide and…

  • Learn more about the ancient concept of “mitakuye oyasin” or “all my relations”
  • Gain insight into our true place in the family of things
  • Understand more fully what is possible when we tap into our authentic selves
  • Deepen your embodied understanding of the deep interconnection you have with everything in the universe.

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