Loving Kindness Meditation

 

Buddhist Practice of Loving Kindness Meditation

Loving kindness meditation is a beautiful antidote to the negative messages trauma survivors live with.

It’s a Buddhist practice of meditation that helps cultivate the gentle, loving kindness that soothes and nurtures the pain of a trauma history.

When I work with someone who is just starting out with meditation I will suggest both a mindfulness practice and/or a concentration meditation.

Sometimes you might need to be able to name and witness something in order to slow down your mind (that would be mindfulness practice,) other times you want to focus and re-orient your mind (that’s concentration.)

If you find you things are moving to quickly and you are needing something stronger to hold onto, try a concentration practice.

The one I suggest to people is from the Buddhist tradition known as metta. Translated into English it’s known as loving kindness.

This practice of metta supports building the “heavenly abodes of the mind,” which is quite a lovely way to express what we want to do in our minds!

Metta (or loving kindness) is one of four of the heavenly abodes of the mind. They include karuna (compassion), upeka (equanimity), and mudita (joyful appreciation.)

Perhaps you’ve head the saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” If we fill our heads with mean, critical, horrible things, we are more likely to have those same things spill out of us, sometimes without our even intending them to be said.

Practicing metta as a form of concentration meditation begins to put different thoughts in our heads and will decrease the onslaught of negative voices over time.

To learn the classic phrases of Metta/Loving Kindness meditation click here

A Bit on the Cautionary Note

One of the greatest benefits of concentration practices is that they will engender a state of softness, bliss, communion.

That sounds so good – except for some with trauma histories. The idea of being without firm, or rigid, boundaries can scare the heck out of some. This relaxed state can be experienced as too diffuse or without control.

When we’re going through a hard time it might be difficult to be with good feeling thoughts. They might spur on the opposite kind of thinking!

You might notice negative reactions that arise to neutralize the good feeling thoughts. For example, if you try the metta phrase, “May I be happy” it can sometimes generate a really a version of “Why should you be happy?”

At those times, gently return to the phrase you have chosen. Refrain from engaging in a dialogue as tempting as it might be! Keep your mind trained on what you want to cultivate and gently let the others thoughts relax.
Return to Concentration Meditation from Loving Kindness

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