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The Development of Loving Kindness. Skills Notes 7 As well as the development of Mindfulness there is the chance to discover “The Development of Loving Kindness” as a meditation which partners Calming Meditation. Loving-Kindness Meditation. This was first published by “The Buddhist Centre” in London. Additional material has been added. “The original name of this practice is Metta Bhavana, which comes from the Pali language. Metta means ‘love’ (in a non-romantic sense), friendliness, or kindness: hence ‘loving-kindness’ for short. It is an emotion, something you feel in your heart. Bhavana means development or cultivation. The commonest form of the practice is in five stages, each of which should last about five minutes for a beginner. 1. In the first stage, you develop a feeling of loving kindness for yourself. You start by becoming aware of yourself, and focusing on feelings of peace, calm, and tranquillity. You can also reflect, for a few moments, on aspects about yourself that you like and appreciate. This creates a starting point for the self-love being worked with here. Still developing loving kindness for yourself you let can your reflections grow into feelings of strength and confidence, and then develop into love, within your heart for yourself. You can use an image, like golden light flooding your body, or a phrase such as ‘May I be well and happy’, which you can repeat to yourself. 2. In the second stage think of a good friend. Bring them to mind as vividly as you can, and think of their good qualities. Feel your connection with your friend, your liking for them, and encourage these to grow by repeating ‘May they be well, May they be happy’ quietly to yourself. You can also use an image, such as shining light from your heart into theirs. You can use these techniques — a phrase or an image — in the next two stages as well of the meditation. 3. In the third stage you think of someone you do not particularly like or dislike. Your feelings are ‘neutral’. This may be someone you do not know well but see around – the postman, a neighbour a couple of doors away, someone who serves you in the shop, the doctor’s receptionist. Reflect on their humanity, and include them in your feelings of loving kindness. Silently, to yourself say “May this person be well. May this person be happy. May this person be free from suffering.” 4. In the fourth stage of the meditation think of someone you actually dislike — an “enemy”, traditionally— someone you are having difficulty with. Try not to get caught up in any feelings of hatred, think of them positively and send your loving kindness to them as well. In the early days of the completion of this fourth stage think of someone where the divide between you is not too strong or with a long history. 5. In the final stage, first of all you think of all four people together — yourself, the friend, the neutral person, and the enemy. Then extend your feelings further — to everyone around you, to everyone in your neighbourhood; in your town, your country, and so on throughout the world. Have a sense of waves of loving-kindness spreading from your heart to everyone, to all beings everywhere. Then gradually relax out of meditation and bring the practice to an end. This is a very powerful form of meditation that leads to change in yourself. My experiential evidence is that other people also change, little by little, and with consistent working at developing loving kindness.
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Be Mindfully Aware
A programme of guided audio meditation, supporting notes and guides to learn and encourage a daily programme of meditation.
When depressed, we are living in the past. When sad we are usually immersed in painful memories from the past. When we are anxious, we are trying to plan and live in the future. Although the future is the consequence what is happening now there is no really significant way of shaping the future. As we reflect on times of peace, contentment and happiness these are the moments of living in the present. This is the only time to change current experience, make responses and continue to be happy.