A loving-kindness meditation is the practice of sending love to yourself, loved ones, others, and all creatures on the earth.
It’s about opening your heart to this unconditional love, connecting with it, and sending it out to others like your loved ones, those who are neutral to you, those who you may have some difficulties with, and all beings on the planet.
It’s a simple practice, with many benefits, but it can sometimes be difficult for us, because we may feel that we, or others, are not deserving of love. That’s okay. We are human, and within our human-ness there are a lot of “big” feelings. These might be feelings of anger, frustration, sadness, fear, distrust, self-doubt, and feeling critical, of ourselves or others.
The good news is you can do this meditation, with the goal of tapping into the love inside of you, while also knowing that it’s okay if some less than loving feelings are mixed in. Practicing loving-kindness opens your heart to feeling love and compassion for others.
Tapping into this love is quite beneficial, for adults and kids. Loving-kindness meditations are proven to have immediate and often long-lasting benefits. Some of these include:
∙Increased positive emotions like love, joy, and hope
∙Immediate relaxation (after just 10 minutes of a loving-kindness practice researchers found practitioners had slower respiration and a calmed parasympathetic nervous system)
While connecting to love might seem hard at times, especially when certain people come to mind, the actual practice of a loving-kindness meditation is simple. You get calm and comfortable then send loving-kindness wishes to others in a gentle repeating verse.
It’s that simple, and sometimes that complicated, but trust us, it works. After a loving-kindness practice you, and your little one will feel lighter, happier and more connected to others. It’s an especially helpful practice for kids who are navigating life with siblings, a new child in the family, or for dealing with challenging people in their lives. This might be a bully, a teacher or a coach, or someone who makes them feel poorly.
Because loving-kindness increases the capacity for empathy, peaceful, positive feelings often arise while doing, or after the meditation. A loving-kindness meditation may not change the person you are sending the wishes to, but it opens your heart to love and compassion by helping you see others in a kinder, gentler way.
1. To begin, find a quiet place and settle in. Having a cozy blanket around you, or playing soft music might be helpful.
2. Slow your breathing by inhaling through the nose, if you are able, and then exhaling slowly through the mouth.
3. As you inhale, feel your belly rise, like a balloon, and make your exhale longer, as if you are slowly letting the air out of the balloon.
4. If you are able, imagine that you are in the presence of someone you love. This could be a spiritual guide or a mentor, a special tree, or for kids, a favorite grown-up, pet or stuffed animal.
5. As you repeat the refrain (below) think about the words, don’t just repeat them. Feel the emotion and the meaning behind them as you send out the loving-kindness wishes.
6. Use the refrain (or write one that is meaningful to you) and send the loving-kindness out to yourself, someone close to you, someone who is neutral to you, someone who it might be difficult for you to feel loving towards, and then finally, to all beings on the planet.
7. Kids especially enjoy sending love out to animals, fish, birds, trees and wildlife.
8. Use the following refrain:
May (I, you) be happy.
May (I, you) be safe.
May (I, you) be free from pain.
May (I, you) feel peaceful.
May (I, you) always be well.
If you and your child want to change the order of wishes, that is completely fine. Little ones often like to begin with all beings on the planet. Adults sometimes find it hard to begin with themselves. Once you do the practice you will find the way that best works for you.
Wee Meditate has loving-kindness meditations that teach kids how to practice in a way that is accessible and fun.
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