Loving Kindness Meditation in Southampton
What is loving kindness meditation?
Loving Kindness Meditation is a way of bringing kindly awareness to our bodies, feelings and thoughts, and learning to cultivate states of mind that are more helpful and loving. Known in Buddhism as The Metta Bhavana (literally 'the cultivation of universal loving kindness'), it is a far-reaching practice that, when taken up regularly, can help us to develop warmer and more positive feelings towards ourselves and all other beings.
It is of course unlikely that we will instantly feel loving kindness to all beings as soon as we sit down to meditate. Indeed, we may discover that our overall feeling tone is quite negative and it may take a while before we notice any change. Or we might discover that we naturally feel warm concern for ourselves and others and we simply need to allow that feeling to expand and deepen.
So the practice helps us to cultivate 'metta' (loving kindness) by focussing in stages on different people in our lives before widening out to include all beings. And we need to start by bringing kindly awareness to ourselves as this is essential if we are to really care for others - and it can also be quite difficult!
Although you can try out the basics of meditation by yourself, it is best to be taught by an experienced teacher and have the opportunity to explore the practice with others.
You can learn meditation at our drop in classes
or an introductory buddhist meditation course
Start the practice with a short 'body awareness' then: Notice what the feeling tone of your experience is and surround whatever you find with warmth and kindness.
You might bring appreciation and gratitude to any feelings of happiness and well being or bring some kindness and compassion to difficulies or sadness that you are experiencing.
Essentially, you are wishing yourself well and you could silently drop in phrases such as
"May I be well, may I be happy" or imagine yourself bathed in warm golden light. See what works for you.
Silently repeat the phrase
"May I be welll, may I be happy"
Bring to mind a good friend, someone you naturally like, and you experience the feeling of liking, perhaps even delighting in your friend and you wish them well as you did for yourself in the first stage.
When you are new to the practice, it is best to choose a friend (not a lover) of the same gender and roughly the same age.
When you are new to the practice,
it is best to choose a friend (not a lover) of the same gender and roughly
the same age.
Invite into your practice a 'neutral' person; someone you may see quite often but don't know well and have no strong feelings about.
This can be a bit harder as you need to use your imagination to stay interested. What you do know is that this is another human being who wants to be happy, just as you do.
Remember all human beings want to be happy, just as you do
Bring to mind an 'enemy' or just someone we are finding difficult or are irritated by. It can be challenging as it is hard to focus on such a person without going into the 'stories' we may have told ourselves about them.
So the practice is just to be aware of this person with as much kindness as we can find in our hearts and to also stay in touch with a sense of kindness for ourselves and be aware of what sensations are in the body during this part of the meditation.
Be aware of
this person with as much kindness
as we can
find in our hearts
Bring all the people in our meditation together and see if we can encompass them all in kindly awareness, including ourselves. We then radiate kindly awareness outwards to gradually include all living beings.
End the practice by coming back to your own experience and noticing any effect the meditation has had.
Radiate kindly awareness outwards to gradually include all