Following my practices last week with Sharon Salzberg’s loving-kindness meditations, I have been looking online for information on the loving-kindness meditation.
I came across the website Wildmind, which is a website on Buddhist meditation. It has a section devoted to metta, the Buddhist name for loving-kindness, which I have found really helpful.
So far I have read the first sub-section, Introduction to lovingkindness meditation, which describes what the loving-kindness meditation is (and isn’t!) and the benefits that can come from practising it. While I’m not a Buddhist, I am very interested in their meditations as the well-acknowledged roots of modern mindfulness, so I’ve found the guidance on the website really interesting. I plan to work through the remaining sub-sections on the website in order, trying out the meditations offered wherever possible. This was what formed the basis for my mindfulness practice today.
This evening I began reading the second sub-section, Ways of Cultivating Metta, which discusses the importance of not forcing feelings of loving-kindness or expecting instant results from meditation, but instead allowing it to develop naturally, however long that takes. It is important to develop emotional awareness as a basis for the organic cultivation of loving-kindness, and to that end the web-page features an Emotional Awareness practice.
The practice began with a body scan of sorts, where I moved the focus of my awareness around my body, starting at the feet and releasing tension from each body part before moving on to the next one. I have to say I enjoyed this and found it really relaxing, which I know is not the aim of mindfulness practice but is certainly a welcome gift when it comes! I could feel the tension in my body disappearing as the practice progressed, and I felt like I was sinking into soft goo as I moved the focus of my attention up my body.
After the body scan element I was directed to bring my attention to my breath, just to see what I felt there. I continued to feel relaxed and calm. In fact, I think I felt so relaxed that my concentration began to drop off. I think this could be because I was tired, as I did the practice at about nine thirty at night, and it meant that my mind started to wander and I have relatively little memory of the end of the practice. I do know that I continued to do slow, calm breathing after the guided meditation had ended, which left me feeling very drowsy. I do think that writing this practice up has revived my brain up a bit!
Overall I really enjoyed this practice and I’m keen to listen to it again and hopefully remain more alert so I can get more out of the meditation; perhaps that will be tomorrow’s goal. Beyond that, I’m excited to read further in the Wildmind section on loving-kindness!
Photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash