Photograph: “Quiet Reverence” by P. Grodecki
This Week's Quote: “"If you truly loved yourself, you could never hurt another." ~ Lord Buddha
Valentine’s Day may have come and gone, but I hope we all can remember to cultivate and express love – for ourselves, our partners, siblings, parents, friends, and yes, even strangers – every day. This week, I would like to share with you a form of meditation to help us do just that: send out love. I’m reminded of the blog PostSecret, to which people anonymously submit postcards expressing their secrets. What a brilliant way to get something off our chests! With the following form of meditation, I would like to propose that, instead of expressing our secrets and sending them out, we cultivate so much love in our hearts that we simply need to get it – literally – off our chests and out into the world.
Metta, or Loving Kindness meditation, allows us to open the heart charka and learn to love ourselves. In turn, we also allow ourselves to learn to love those we care about and treat them with true kindness. Once we can love ourselves and those dear to us unconditionally, we can then treat all sentient beings with the same reverence and kindness. The following is a version of the meditation that I find works most effectively for me.
Step 1: Begin by sitting down in a comfortable position, eyes comfortably closed, and start to inhale deeply through the nose. Exhale any tension you may feel, and with each exhalation feel your body relax. Continue to do this for as long as you need.
Step 2: Bring your awareness to your heart centre, the area in the middle of your chest. Visualize a beautiful green or pink lotus flower, the petals of which are slowly starting to expand and open. With each inhalation, the lotus flower opens its petals wider and begins to glow with the beautiful gold and white light that surrounds it, until the entire flower is glowing. Focus on the warmth that you feel expanding in the centre of your chest, and concentrate on the feeling of comfort and love that is starting to become cultivated in your body.
Step 3: Feel the warmth from your heart chakra emanating throughout your body, flowing into every cell of your body, all the while visualizing yourself bathed in the same gold and white light that surrounds the lotus flower. Stay here and continue to breathe in this love for as long as you wish.
You may end the meditation here by skipping onto Step 6, or continue onto Step 4.
Step 4: Next, visualize a friend or family member sitting or standing in front of you. For this part of the meditation, choose a person about whom you care and with whom you share a deep connection. If you wish, you may even choose to focus on a beloved family pet. As in Step 3, breathe out love from your heart chakra and visualize the beautiful gold and white light completely surrounding the person in front of you. Continue to send love and compassion to that person, for as long as you wish.
You may end the meditation here by skipping onto Step 6, or continue onto Step 5.
Step 5: Visualize in front of you a person with whom your relationship is strained. As in the previous step, and without thinking about that person’s negative personality traits or what may have transpired between you, send love from your heart chakra to him or her. Continue to send love and kindness to the person in front of you, for as long as you wish.
Step 6: Return your focus back to your heart chakra, the glowing green lotus flower, and with a few deep inhalations and exhalations, come back to the present moment. Take some time to feel the tranquility that you have cultivated during this meditative practice, and enjoy the openness of your heart. Continue to shine this benevolent quality all throughout your day, sending out love to everyone you meet.
Many people find Step 5 of this practice to be challenging. Please practise at your own pace and only advance to this step when you feel ready. It’s of the utmost importance, when practising meditation, to treat ourselves with the same love and kindness we learn to nurture on this journey.
Affirmation: “Today, I treat myself and all sentient beings with love and kindness.”
Wishing you a peaceful week!