In these coronavirus days of social isolation our challenge is how to maintain a physical distance from people, to prevent the virus from spreading, and at the same time remain connected to others, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. The Loving Kindness meditation, that I will describe in this post, is a wonderful way of connecting with others and sending them your love and good wishes, at a time when circumstances may demand that you are physically apart. We're all experiencing the stress of uncertainty and rapid change at the moment, and this meditation is way of showing love and compassion to yourself and others.
The Loving Kindness Meditation originates from a Buddhist meditation called the Metta Bhavana. Metta can be translated as love, compassion, or kindness, and Bhavana is the development or cultivation of these qualities. In this post I'll share with you the Loving Kindness Meditation phrases and we'll look at ways that you can use them informally, including how to incorporate them into a yoga session. In my next post we'll look at how to use them as a formal sitting meditation (see The Showing Appreciation Meditation on page 88 of the Yoga Through the Year book).
Below is my favourite version of the Loving Kindness meditation phrases:
May I be safe.
One simple way of using the loving kindness phrases is to silently repeat them at the beginning and end of your yoga session. At the start of my home yoga practice, I stand in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and repeat the phrases for myself, which makes me feel safe, secure, and looked after. Then at the end of my yoga session, following my pranayama practice, I sit and send good wishes and love to myself, my husband, and my daughter (who lives 150 miles away from me). Sometimes I use the formal phrases above, and at other times I just give myself a hug, and say, "I love you. I hope you have a good day", and then I do the same for my loved ones, imagining that they are on either side of me and that I am holding their hands, sending them love and good wishes too.
You can also incorporate the phrases into simple yoga sequences. To do this simply repeat one line of the Loving Kindness (metta) phrases each time you exhale. For example, pictured below, inhaling raise your arms, and exhaling lower your arms, silently saying, "May I be safe". Next time round, on the exhale, you say, "May I be happy" etc. Try it. It will focus an anxious mind and induce a state of calm.
You can do the same in this Cat Pose variation:
If you prefer you can simplify the phrases to: safe, happy, healthy, ease.
Inhale, exhale, safe.
Inhale, exhale, happy.
Inhale, exhale, healthy.
Inhale, exhale, ease.
If, at present, your mind is like the proverbial hamster on a wheel, relentlessly going over coronavirus worries, you'll find that the Loving Kindness phrases are a wonderful way of realigning yourself with a sense of safety, good health and happiness. They are also a way of surrounding yourself with love and sending your love out into the world.
See also: Find Peace With Compassionate Walking
Jilly Shipway, sharing seasonal yoga ideas and inspiration with you through the year...
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Disclaimer: if you have any concerns about your health or suitability to do yoga, please consult a medical professional before attempting any of the yoga routines in this blog.