If you struggle with judgment, fidgety-ness, or unkind chatter during meditation, this post is for you. If you want to begin a kinder meditation practice, get your free lovingkindness mini-toolkit here and grab your seat for meditation workshops here.
My mom used to have this magnet on her fridge that said, “Be nice or leave.”
I like the idea that kindness was part of the social contract of our home. If you weren’t being nice, you could go be somewhere else.
But how often are we just kind mean to ourselves?
And, in that case, we can’t really just leave, can we? We could tell that nasty voice in our heads to bugger off, true. We cannot, however, just walk away from ourselves. There’s no “be nice or leave” sign in our own minds.
If you’re caught in that negative self-talk space, all the yoga asana, steaming cups of herbal tea and long walks won’t add up to self-care. Even if you’re doing nice things for yourself, are you still being kind of mean?
If you are being mean to yourself, how can you craft meditation that’s kind?
I believe that it’s possible. It does take some kindness jiu-jitsu sometimes, though. It takes a little bit of trickery on our parts.
One of the places where I get resistance when I tell people about meditation. People say that they “can’t” meditate. The reasons vary, but one common reason is that their minds are too busy.
And no wonder: when we close our eyes and focus on our breath, all of the negative thoughts can come flooding in.
There are a lot of common barriers to meditation
And many of them stem from negative self-talk:
- Judging yourself for having thoughts
- Berating yourself for not being able to sit still
- Wrestling with your mind
- Experiencing particularly unkind mental chatter
That makes meditation a pretty unpleasant place to be, and it doesn’t inspire dedication when it comes to practice. Many of us know that a meditation practice would offer us a lot of benefit. But we can’t seem to get past the inner fight – the negativity that comes from our own minds.
But what if meditation could feel loving?
Loving-kindness, or metta practice, is a silent mantra meditation — a repetition of chosen phrases to cultivate feelings of well-being and love for the recipient. This brings greater compassion, as well as deeper resonance and love, to the practitioner. This practice can shift perspective and relationship with the person with whom you are practicing.
This meditation is the practicing well-wishes for yourself or others, in a way that cultivates a sense of lovingkindness for both you and the recipient. Since we’re all here for self-care, begin with yourself, offering yourself this lovingkindness before moving on to others. It is a silent mantra meditation.
SOME SAMPLE PHRASES
May I be safe
May I be happy
May I be free
May I be filled with loving-kindness
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After working with yourself and offering yourself lovingkindness, you begin to work outward, offering these wishes to beloved people, neutral people and stranger, and slowly outward toward difficult people. Eventually, the practice instructs you to offer lovingkindness to all beings.
The benefits of lovingkindness:
- Using mantra gives the mind words to work with, slowing mental chatter
- The repetition of loving phrases cuts through judgment
- The phrases forgive us, even in the moment, for being imperfect humans – yet acknowledge us as worthy of love anyway
- Puts all people, including yourself, in a positive light, even when not in meditation
Working with this form of meditation can calm hostility and bring a greater sense of balance, and even love, into your mind. Meditation doesn’t need to be a fight. It can actually be an offering of sweetness. You could actually just choose to be nice to yourself.