Loving kindness meditation
The essence of divine love is flowing all around us continually all the time but most of us are unaware. Loving kindness meditation is a practice that is thousands of years old, and is designed to connect us to the flow of love. If you practice loving kindness meditation for a few minutes every day, you will discover your everyday state will be more and more full of love, happiness, and wellbeing.
Here’s how it works.
Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted and get comfortable.
Close your eyes and clear your mind.
Wait until you are aware of the essence of love flowing in your heart.
Mentally scan your family and friends, spend some time aware of each one; being love in them one at a time.
Mentally scan people you do not like or that do not like you. Spend some time aware of each one; being love in them one at a time.
If any thoughts cross your mind, ignore them. The essence of love is being – not thinking.
If you practice 5 minutes a day [more is better] in a few months you will suddenly notice – I’ve been feeling love, joy and peace lately!!
Here’s some of the science behind loving kindness meditation
- A study done at Stanford University used a brief lovingkindness meditation exercise to examine whether social connection could be created toward strangers in a controlled laboratory context. Compared with a closely matched control task, even just a few minutes of lovingkindness meditation increased feelings of social connection and positivity toward strangers on both conscious and unconscious levels.
- A Duke University Medical Center pilot study tested an eight-week lovingkindness program for chronic low back pain patients. Patients were randomly assigned to practice lovingkindness or were given standard care. Standardized measures assessed patients’ pain, anger, and psychological distress. There were significant improvements in pain and psychological distress in the lovingkindness group — even after the study had ended. There were no improvements in the usual care group. An analysis of patients’ diaries showed that more lovingkindness practice on a given day was related to lower pain that day and lower anger the next day.
- Researcher Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took working adults and assigned them randomly to a lovingkindness meditation group or to a control group. Her study found that lovingkindness practice increased daily experiences of positive emotions, which in turn produced increases in a wide range of personal resources, including increased mindfulness, a sense of purpose in life, social support, and decreased illness symptoms. These increments in personal resources predict increased life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms.
- In a study by Richard Davidson, scans revealed significant activity in the insula – a region near the frontal portion of the brain that plays a key role in bodily representations of emotion – when long-term meditators were generating compassion and were exposed to emotional vocalizations. The insula is extremely important in detecting emotions in general and specifically in mapping bodily responses to emotion – such as heart rate and blood pressure – and making that information available to other parts of the brain.
- The same study showed increased activity in the temporal parietal juncture, particularly in the right hemisphere. Studies have implicated this area as important in processing empathy, especially in perceiving the mental and emotional state of others.
- Compassion meditation has been shown to reduce reactions to inflammation and distress. An Emory University study showed a strong relationship between the time spent practicing meditation and reductions in inflammation and emotional distress in response to stress. Those who practiced the most meditation showed reductions in inflammation and distress in response to stressors when compared to the low practice group and the control group. As one of the researchers noted, “If practicing compassion meditation does reduce inflammatory responses to stress it might offer real promise as a means of preventing many conditions associated with stress and with inflammation including major depression, heart disease and diabetes.”
- A review by researchers in the US and Germany suggested that Lovingkindness and compassion meditation “may provide potentially useful strategies for targeting a variety of different psychological problems that involve interpersonal processes, such as depression, social anxiety, marital conflict, anger, and coping with the strains of long-term caregiving.”
In some of these studies, the benefits were revealed after only twelve hours of meditation. Hopefully future studies will reveal yet more about the power of lovingkindness and compassion meditation.
If you’re interested in exploring lovingkindness practice in more depth,we have an extensive, free, self-paced guide, which includes audio guided meditations.
Thanks to wild mind http://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/the-science-of-lovingkindness