This is one of my favorite techniques for self-improvement. It’s a meditative technique that fosters a very positive emotion and will probably aid in achieving relaxation as well.
Use In Response To: Depression, Anger, Anxiety, or Urges.
Basic Idea: Meditate by repeating a mantra expressing love and kindness towards an increasingly broad group of people.
Description: Loving Kindness Meditation, also called Metta in Buddhism is a technique designed to develop unconditional love for all beings. This type of meditation can be combined with any of the other relaxation techniques. For example, while seated and comfortable, start with Paced Breathing and then begin to follow the following pattern.
You will begin by saying the following phrases to yourself:
May I be well. May I be loved. May I grow wise. May I live happily.
Alternatively, you can use more traditional language such as:
May I be free from enmity, affliction and anxiety, and live happily.
You can modify this to fit any spiritual or belief system you like.
Now let’s expand the recipients of these sentiments gradually, as if you were creating ever-widening concentric circles of loving kindness around yourself. Say each phrase a number of times (try three times at first). If you would like, you can picture the faces of people you know and care about as you do this. You might even imagine that you are sending them waves of love. Try to feel the deep caring you have for them, and then extend this to the people you hardly know or do not like. You can extend this to all the people in your town, your city, your state, your country, the whole world, even all living beings everywhere in the universe. For example:
May my family be well. May my family be loved. May my family grow wise. May my family live happily. (Say three times)
May my friends be well. May my friends be loved. May my friends grow wise. May my friends live happily. (Say three times)
May my neighbors be well. May my neighbors be loved. May my neighbors grow wise. May my neighbors live happily. (Say three times)
May all those I know be well. May all those I know be loved. May all those I know grow wise. May all those I know live happily. (Say three times)
May all who have displeased me be well. May all who have displeased me be loved. May all who have displeased me grow wise. May all who have displeased me live happily. (Say three times)
May all human beings be well. May all human beings be loved. May all human beings grow wise. May all human beings live happily. (Say three times)
With practice, you may feel an upsurge of positive emotion as you complete this meditation.
It turns out that this practice also ties in nicely with the philosophy of Stoicism. Although Stoicism does not emphasize formal (Eastern-style) meditation or the repetition of mantras, it does deal with the same expanding concentric circles around the self. The image associated with this post is known as the Circle of Hierocles. The idea is that our goal should be to pull the circles in towards us, so that we treat our family the way we would treat ourselves, and our friends the way we would treat our family and so on. I think the mediation described above would serve the same goal.
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