Hello, How are you today, Good I hope. I decided to get back to some of the Loving Kindness meditations I use to share. I just came across this overview of LK meditation and I thought it is a good way to reintroduce the meditation. We do have the power to change our patterns of thinking, and feeling towards ourselves and others around us. If you find yourself at a point in your life that your tired of carrying the baggage of the past, tired of feeling anger and judgement towards others around you and yourself, try these LK meditations, even informally, by just simply saying the simple words and doing the practices for yourself. From my own experience, I can honestly say they have helped me to let go of a lot, with more and more ease. Most of all I have learned that it is so true, that "we are as happy as we make our minds up to be". Nothing or no one can do it for us, but us!
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Three Paths Of Letting Go
Forgiveness has great power. In this meditation you will ask for forgiveness from those you have harmed; you'll forgive those who've harmed you, and last but not least, you'll learn to forgive yourself. Either formally (full meditation pose and breathing) or informally by simply closing your eyes and saying to yourself "To those I have harmed, knowingly or not, I ask for your forgiveness". Now think of someone who has harmed or hurt you, don't be surprised if you find it hard to feel an immediate sense of of love or even kindness for this person. You are setting your intention and having faith that you are capable of forgiving this person. It may not happen right away, but in time possibly. Use the phrase as you did above, but simply change some of the words to "For any harm that you have caused me, knowingly or not, I forgive you" Then think of yourself, how you have not been true to yourself, hurt yourself, and or not lived up to your own expectations (don't a lot of us need this one!) and simply picture yourself, as you did above to others, and say "May I forgive myself". It may sound too simple or dumb to some people but words really do have power, and if you never work on forgiveness, you will never achieve a life full of loving and kindness and who really wants that?? Not me :)
An Overview of Loving-kindness Meditation
Loving-kindness meditation can be brought in to support the practice of 'bare attention' to help keep the mind open and sweet. It provides the essential balance to support your insight meditation practice.
It is a fact of life that many people are troubled by difficult emotional states in the pressured societies we live in, but do little in terms of developing skills to deal with them. Yet even when the mind goes sour it is within most people's capacity to arouse positive feelings to sweeten it. Loving-kindness is a meditation practice taught by the Buddha to develop the mental habit of selfless or altruistic love. In the Dhammapada can be found the saying: "Hatred cannot coexist with loving-kindness, and dissipates if supplanted with thoughts based on loving-kindness."
Loving-kindness is a meditation practice, which brings about positive attitudinal changes as it systematically develops the quality of 'loving-acceptance'. It acts, as it were, as a form of self-psychotherapy, a way of healing the troubled mind to free it from its pain and confusion. Of all Buddhist meditations, loving-kindness has the immediate benefit of sweetening and changing old habituated negative patterns of mind.
To put it into its context, Loving-kindness is the first of a series of meditations that produce four qualities of love: Friendliness (metta), Compassion (karuna), Appreciative Joy (mudita) and Equanimity (upekkha). The quality of 'friendliness' is expressed as warmth that reaches out and embraces others. When loving-kindness practice matures it naturally overflows into compassion, as one empathises with other people's difficulties; on the other hand one needs to be wary of pity, as its near enemy, as it merely mimics the quality of concern without empathy. The positive expression of empathy is an appreciation of other people's good qualities or good fortune, or appreciative joy, rather than feelings of jealousy towards them. This series of meditations comes to maturity as 'on-looking equanimity'. This 'engaged equanimity' must be cultivated within the context of this series of meditations, or there is a risk of it manifesting as its near enemy, indifference or aloofness. So, ultimately you remain kindly disposed and caring toward everybody with an equal spread of loving feelings and acceptance in all situations and relationships.
How to do it . . .
The practice always begins with developing a loving acceptance of yourself. If resistance is experienced then it indicates that feelings of unworthiness are present. No matter, this means there is work to be done, as the practice itself is designed to overcome any feelings of self-doubt or negativity. Then you are ready to systematically develop loving-kindness towards others.
Four Types of Persons to develop loving-kindness towards:
• a respected, beloved person;
• a dearly beloved - which could be a close family member or friend;
• a neutral person - somebody you know, but have no special feelings towards,
• a hostile person - someone you are currently having difficulty with.
Starting with yourself, then systematically sending loving-kindness from person to person in the above order will have the effect of breaking down the barriers between the four types of people and yourself. This will have the effect of breaking down the divisions within your own mind, the source of much of the conflict we experience.
Ways of arousing feelings of loving-kindness:
1. Visualisation - Bring up a mental picture. See yourself or the person the feeling is directed at smiling back at you or just being joyous.
1. By reflection - Reflect on the positive qualities of a person and the acts of kindness they have done. And to yourself, making an affirmation, a positive statement about yourself, using your own words.
3. Auditory - This is the simplest way but probably the most effective. Repeat an internalized mantra or phrase such as 'loving-kindness'.
The visualisations, reflections and the repetition of loving-kindness are devices to help you arouse positive feelings of loving-kindness. You can use all of them or one that works best for you.
There are as many different ways of doing it as there are levels of intensity in the practice. This introduction is intended to help you familiarize yourself with the basic technique, so that you can become established in the practice before going on, if you wish, to the deeper, systematic practice - to the level of meditative absorption.
The Book I use and recommend