Loving Kindness 101: How to Get Started
By Guest Contributor Julie Potiker
Loving Kindness: The phrase itself sounds familiar and comforting, yet you may not know that it is actually a practice, a meditation, and a way of being in the world that can truly transform your day-to-day feelings towards yourself and others. It’s a mindfulness tool you can use anytime, anywhere to support yourself in aligning with a more positive, loving, and uplifting experience of life.
“Loving Kindness” is an English translation of the Pali word “metta.”
Pali was the language in the time of the Buddha, 2,500 years ago. Metta means love, friendliness, benevolence, and goodwill. Metta meditation teaches us how to be better friends with ourselves.
Loving Kindness invites you to expand your ability to have compassion for yourself and others, including those whom you find off-putting, for whatever reason. It opens the doorway to the possibility of being mindfully calm, clear, and loving in an otherwise chaotic world.
The practice itself is quite simple and involves Loving Kindness mantras that you repeat silently to yourself.
You can do this while sitting in quiet meditation, but you can also do it while in traffic, standing in line at the post office, taking a walk outside, or any other time you find it useful.
Here are some examples of Loving Kindness mantras you can try. Be sure to experiment with interchanging the words “you,” “I,” and “we” so you are calling in compassion for both yourself and others.
I am loved.
You are loved.
May I be safe.
May I be healthy.
May I live with ease.
May I live my life with ease.
May I be the best version of myself.
May I have patience.
May I be loved and appreciated.
May I be valued.
May I be kind.
May I accept myself just as I am.
May all beings be safe and free from suffering.
By practicing Loving Kindness meditation, we soften and heal our hearts.
We treat ourselves and others more gently and compassionately. We become less reactive and more present. Try it for yourself over the course of a week and see how you feel.
Loving Kindness for Healing Stress and Strife
Loving Kindness meditation can be used in many different situations, including times when you feel upset, worried, or fearful. It’s incredibly soothing, and you can create exactly the right Loving Kindness mantra you need in that moment to help yourself feel better.
Next time you are in a stressful or upsetting situation, think about what you would most like to hear. What could someone say to you right then to help you feel better? You can say it to yourself!
I am loved.
I am healthy and whole.
I have all I need to be successful.
I love myself just as I am.
…or anything else that you need to hear. You can also think of phrases you would like to hear every day for the rest of your life! Base your phrases around your universal human needs — core needs that would cause suffering if they were not met. Some examples of universal core needs from the Center for Non-Violent Communication are safety, stability, love, connection, trust, authenticity, peace, ease, and harmony.
Write down phrases that fill you with comfort and gratitude whenever you hear them, then practice focusing your attention on these phrases.
Find the words you need to hear and practice them mindfully and repeatedly, both in times of crisis or stress and during your everyday life as you go about your day. Loving Kindness meditation heals from the inside out, makes even the hardest times more tolerable, and supports genuine feelings of healthy self-love and compassion for others. Try it and watch your life blossom.
About Julie Potiker:
Mindfulness expert and author Julie Potiker is an attorney who began her serious study and investigation of mindfulness after graduating from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of California, San Diego. She went on to become trained to teach Mindful Self-Compassion, and completed the Positive Neuroplasticity Training Professional Course with Rick Hanson. Now, she shares these and other mindfulness techniques with the world through her Mindful Methods for Life trainings and her new book: “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm In the Midst of Chaos.”
For more information, visit www.MindfulMethodsForLife.com.