Loving Kindness Meditation is an immensely powerful practice. This affirmative, nurturing meditation has been around for thousands of years and is easy to do. People have changed their lives through practicing Loving Kindness. Anecdotal benefits include experiencing more joy, ease, peace and well being in one’s life. Scientific studies also demonstrate decreased levels inflammation in the bodies of individuals who practice Loving Kindness Meditation.
The traditional phrases are:
May I be happy.
May I be well.
May I be safe.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
In the traditional practice of Loving Kindness, one begins by extending Loving Kindness to oneself. The next practice is to explore sending the phrases of Loving Kindness to someone you love. Next, the phrases are extended to a mentor or an admired person. Finally, one can explore sending these wishes to a difficult person - a person with whom there has been some strife or disagreement.
When beginning this practice, many people are astounded to find that it’s often hardest to extend these wishes to oneself. Even extending the wishes of Loving Kindness to the most difficult person in one’s life proves easier than wishing them for yourself.
My Meditation Teacher, Jonathan Foust, likes to say that practicing Loving Kindness Meditation is similar to playing fine jazz. In order to play good jazz, one needs to learn and practice the music, but then one also needs to improvise, to bring the spirit of being moved by the moment into the music. I’ve been playing with the phrases of Loving Kindness, discovering what feels right for me.
So you might explore finding phrases which work for you. In my own practice, I often use:
May I feel loved
May I feel safe and protected.
May I feel healthy and fulfilled.
May I feel nurtured and cherished.
These phrases continue to evolve and change to fit my mood or my current needs. You may like to explore to see what feels right for you. One of my current favorite versions is:
May I love myself as much as the Universe loves me.
May I experience this love so that I feel safe and protected.
May I love myself so much that I feel healthy and fulfilled.
May I feel this love so completely that I feel nurtured and cherished.
Feel free to play with these phrases. At first, it’s a good idea to use a set of phrases which resonate with you. Try them on: how do the words feel? What resonates in your body when you say the words? Are there other words which spring up – other wishes you’d like to send to yourself?
Then let the words flow freely. After some time, you may feel the urge to write your own words – switch it up. Allow whatever words come up for you: there is no right or wrong! The only caveat is to try to use positive phrases – so, instead of, “May I be less depressed,” try “May I be content and happy,” or something similar.
The practice of Loving Kindness Meditation is often finished by sending the wishes to everyone and everything:
May all Beings everywhere feel safe and protected.
May all Beings everywhere feel the universe’s love and love themselves as well.
May all Beings everywhere love themselves so much that they feel healthy and fulfilled.
May all Beings experience so much love that they feel nurtured and cherished.