Did you know there are different kinds of meditation? I didn’t. A friend had told me about the kind of meditation she practices called Metta meditation. This form of meditation that focuses on love and kindness. In practice, the idea is to start with thoughts of love and kindness towards yourself and slowly move to bigger circles outside yourself to include family, friends, and eventually towards people you don’t necessarily get along with. In attempting this relaxation method, I found mixed results.
The first step is to focus on yourself. Tell yourself that you are allowed to be happy, to be at peace, to be well. The point is to reinforce these intentions. Other similar messages are fine as long as you are emphasizing love and kindness inward. I found that repeating similar phrases calmed me down. I didn’t feel quiet so stressed. That I was doing my best and that was ok. We usually find ourselves as our biggest critics so this would be a good way to allow yourself to relax and see yourself a little differently.
After allowing yourself to accept happiness, expand your circle to include loved ones. Continue to expand those thoughts of love and kindness to friends, neutral people, and eventually to those you find difficult to handle. This is where I find the exercise not so relaxing. As I move onto people I have difficulties with, emotions of frustration or even anger surface. Apparently, with practice, these feelings will diminish.
Although meditation is meant to be an ongoing process, the benefits from focusing on yourself and your loved ones is emotionally freeing. With additional practice we can open ourselves up to feeling more love and kindness towards others and reduce those negative emotions that flare up. You can try it yourself by using these guided instructions.