Perhaps you’ve heard the Sanskrit word “Metta” or the term “loving-kindness” thrown around during yoga class or in the realm of self-help. Maybe you’ve never heard of this practice but are interested in beginning some type of meditation practice… If you have yet to discover this simple but powerful form of meditation, now is the time!
Metta Bhavana, or Loving-kindness meditation, originated from the Buddhist Tradition, but it can be practiced by anyone, regardless of spiritual or religious affiliation. Metta in Sanskrit means unconditional love, a love with wisdom. It is without conditions or expectations; it does not depend on whether one “deserves” it or not. Bhavana means ‘development or cultivation’.
Why is this practice so powerful and important to our growth? It is the ultimate practice to build SELF LOVE while also feeling connected to those around us. The goal of this practice is to develop compassion, feelings of goodwill, kindness and warmth towards ourselves and others. Compassion, kindness and empathy are natural emotions from the moment we are born, but throughout our lives we also experience pain, betrayal, and wounds so deep that we then close our heart with the intention of protecting ourselves... Unfortunately, when we protect ourselves from difficult painful emotions we also end up creating walls that prevent us from receiving what we need more than anything… connection, love, support, and understanding.
Metta meditation uses a combination of visualization and meditation phrases to soften our mind and expand our heart while working through four stages.
In the first stage, we begin with self-love. We begin to build unconditional love and acceptance for ourselves, focusing on feeling of tranquility and inner peace. As we know, without having a strong and loving connection to yourself, where is the foundation to love another?
The second stage focuses on directing love and compassion for those close to us, usually friends and family. The third stage challenges us to break down barriers by releasing ill feelings, anger, and resentment towards others whom we consider a “painful person” or a person we have difficulty with. By directing our compassion and peace towards those whom have caused us pain, we allow freedom and space for new relationships to manifest. In the last stage of Metta practice, we direct our compassion towards all living things in the universe, enhancing gratitude for the experiences of this lifetime and the unity that connects us all as one.
And for you meditation skeptics who may be thinking “hmmm …Is there any scientific proof this is actually effective…?”
YES! Research has proven that over a nine week period Metta Meditation…
• Increases position emotions
• Increases concentration
• Reduces depression and anxiety
• Decreases anger and resentment towards others
• Increases satisfaction with relationships
• Increases self-esteem and connection to self
• Improves emotional intelligence
• Lowers blood pressure
Who wouldn’t want to spent 10 minutes a day to feel whole heartedly better!?
*Tara is a Licensed Therapist, Certified Meditation Teacher, and Tibetan Sound Healer. If you’re struggling with low self esteem, anxiety, or depression and interested in learning more about how meditation can help you heal, reach out to Tara today.