The best advice and the best psychological techniques are not complicated. They’re simple and easy to use, and no-one is excluded. Not those with limited education, not those with mental health or physical health issues, not those with financial concerns.
It’s mental health week this week and in the spirit of inclusiveness, today’s blog post focusses on a practice that everyone can use to increase feelings of love, joy and happiness. It’s called Loving Kindness Meditation.
What is Loving Kindness Meditation?
It’s a kind of meditation where you focus on feelings of warmth and kindness towards yourself and others. It’s a kind of mind training practice that aims to increase feelings of love and kindness in yourself over time. Personally, I really enjoy this kind of meditation. I completed a meditation course recently, and loving kindness meditation was my favourite of all the different types offered in the course.
Don’t worry if you’re new to meditation, or don’t think that you’re ‘good at meditating’. You can’t do it wrong. Having the intention to experience loving kindness and setting aside time for the practice is the basis for the benefits, even if you find it challenging at first.
Why would you try it?
Loving Kindness meditation has been tested by psychologists to see what effects it had on emotional states. They asked people to practise loving kindness mediation and found that practising it can lead to benefits including an increase in your daily experiences of:
That’s a pretty impressive list for ten minutes of practising! The increase in these positive emotions also end up bringing about other positive outcomes. Some of these included:
greater levels of mindfulness
higher levels of self-acceptance
more positive interpersonal relationships
good physical health
Increases in life satisfaction.
It was also associated with fewer symptoms of depression.
I want all of those things!
How do you do it?
The basics of loving kindness meditation are similar to other kinds of meditation: find a quiet spot, relax and focus yourself in the present. You then:
* Focus on your heart region
* Think about a person you feel warm and tender towards (e.g. a friend or family member).
* Extend the warm feelings to yourself
* Extend the feelings to others
* Mentally repeat a variation on the phrase, “May I live in safety. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease”.
If that sounds a bit difficult, then I have just the tool for you! I have recorded a version of loving kindness meditation for you to try out. To receive a copy, you just need to be subscribed to my blog, or subscribe to it during mental health week (October 5th-12th). Simply subscribe using the form at the bottom of the blog to subscribe and you'll get a copy of the meditation e-mailed to you.
Here's to more love in your life!
Lana Hall, Psychologist. Helping you to live your best life, using the power of psychology.