For my mindfulness today, I listened to Guided Loving-kindness Meditation from Sharon Salzberg from the mindful podcast, linked to in this article.
It’s a 45 minute long podcast that starts with an initial discussion of loving-kindness, which is also known as metta in Buddhism (and during this podcast). This is followed by an extended loving-kindness meditation. The article helpfully has the whole podcast pretty much transcribed, so if you’ve read it you can skip to 10:00 for the actual guided practice.
I listened to the podcast lying down in my bed during the mid-afternoon, having just written up my blog post for yesterday’s practice. Going into the practice I felt alert and excited to try this kind of extended loving-kindness practice. I have a little experience already with some loving-kindness meditations from courses I’ve attended, but they haven’t usually lasted more than ten minutes.
Initially, I was directed to repeat loving-kindness statements that described what I wished for myself. I began with a range but ended up settling on two that spoke to me most:
May I have physical health.
May I have mental happiness.
Next, Salzberg suggested aiming the statements towards a ‘benefactor’ – someone who had helped me. Immediately a lady came to mind who has made a huge difference in my life recently, acting with so much kindness and helping me to really get into volunteering work. I spent the next period of silence directing my loving-kindness thoughts at her.
The next focus was on someone who a is good friend. I thought of one of my housemates and directed my kindness towards her.
By the next suggestion, I was feeling quite sleepy and I can’t remember well what happened for either the suggestion to send my loving-kindness towards someone neutral or someone I have a difficulty with. As I struggle to know who I chose to focus on, I feel like I may have fallen asleep. I do remember hearing the bell signalling the end of the practice but that may have simply woken me up.
Immediately after the practice I felt so relaxed and calm that I fell asleep (again!). While I slept, I had a number of moving dreams, centring around music and feeling accepted.
In one of them, three musicians I love were all singing and when the fourth, one of my favourites, joined in, the songs all came together into a beautiful piece of living music. It felt really amazing.
On awaking I felt full of love and wonder. I don’t usually read into my dreams, but these dreams felt so joyful that part of me wonders if they were catalysed by the loving-kindness meditation I did immediately before falling asleep.
Either way, I really enjoyed my experience of today’s practice and the following happy dreams. I definitely feel refreshed and ready to use my evening!
Have any of you ever felt like your dreams were influenced by your mindfulness practice?