In the past several weeks we’ve reviewed both focus centered (Samatha) and open monitoring (Vipassana) mindfulness practices. This week, let’s spend some time with acceptance and loving kindness meditation techniques (Metta).
Always, but especially during these tumultuous times, it is critical that you come to accept and love yourself and those around you. In your practice of Metta meditation (also known as loving kindness meditation), you will be actively directing your meditation to evoke love and kindness, first towards yourself, and then toward others. When you first begin this practice, you may discover that you don’t particlarly like yourself, or the others on whom you are focusing. That’s OK. Like all meditation practices, Metta takes time to learn and benefit from.
Thích Nhất Hạnh tells a story in which he learned that a twelve year old girl, one of many “boat people” from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, was raped by a Thai sea pirate, jumped into the ocean and drowned. He admitted that, when he first learned of the event, he was angry at the pirate, as most of us would be. However, as he reflected on the news, he was able to see that both were the girl and the sea pirate were victims. You see, many of the sea pirates are themselves born into poverty, unwanted and unloved. Without ever having felt loved or valued, they do not know how to love or value others. They are born into a survival of the fittest mindset, and that is the lifestyle they maintain. Did his meditation encourage Thích Nhất Hạnh to accept the pirate’s behavior? Of course not. However, it did allow him to look beyond the behavior and see the person that was the pirate. That’s your goal for Metta mediation. See yourself, see the other person, and love and accept, without necessarily condoning the behavior. We are all wounded. We are all broken. We are all human. Try to see the human, not just the behavior.
The first few times you practice Metta, focus only on yourself. Keep it simple. As always, get into a comfortable position, relax, and prepare for your meditation. As for what to say, keep it simple for now. Try something like:
May I be well
May I be happy
May I be safe
May I be at peace
Say this four or five times, and then just relax and give yourself some time to take it all in. As you become more proficient, we’ll add others to your meditation as well.
This blog is not designed to diagnose, treat, or prevent illnesses or trauma, and Dr. Emick is not responsible for your use of this educational material or its consequences. Furthermore, reading this blog does not create a doctor-patient relationship. The information contained within this blog is not intended to dictate what constitutes reasonable, appropriate, or best care for any given physical or behavioral health issue, nor does it take into account the unique circumstances that define the health issues of the reader. If you have questions about the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a condition or illness, you should consult your personal health care professional. As always, consult with your personal health care professional before beginning or changing any fitness or nutrition program to make sure that it is appropriate for your needs. Dr. Emick reserves the right to modify her positions on a subject based upon new research or data as it presents.