Mindfulness 101: Loving Kindness

Practicing mindfulness, as we have been learning all this month, has great benefits for reducing our daily stress. Even when done separately, deep breathing, being present, and being positive all help to calm the mind and help you refresh yourself in just a few minutes. This week, let’s take those benefits and extend them to others. Practicing loving kindness is a great way to build empathy and compassion; two things that help you look beyond yourself and put a stressful situation into perspective. This Monday, spread the good vibes and make it a great week for you and everyone around you!

Loving kindness meditation has roots in Buddhism, but its benefits and simplicity are appealing to anyone ready to open their mind up a bit. There is also a great deal of scientific research on the positive effects it has on reducing stress, helping the body calm and heal itself, and building better relationships with others. It is also a very simple practice that can be worked into even the busiest schedule.

There are three basic steps to developing a loving kindness practice. The first step is about showing loving kindness to yourself. This is an important step because self-care is important! Learning to be kind to yourself when you feel stressed is often overlooked. The next step extends your wishes of loving kindness to people in your life – loved ones, acquaintances, anyone you know. Finally, extend those wishes beyond the people you know to strangers and the rest of the world.

To prepare for a loving kindness practice, follow the steps you have previously learned for your mindfulness practice. Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes and clear your head, breathing deeply and focusing on being present. Shift your thoughts in a positive direction.

Now that you’re in a positive place, think about being kind to yourself, thinking positive, healing thoughts, and embracing a feeling of calmness and peace.

Next, imagine someone who is close to you, whom you love and care for. Send them the same thoughts you had for yourself. Imagine those thoughts spreading over a larger amount of people in your life until everyone you know is the subject of those good wishes.

Finally, imagine everyone beyond the people you know. People on your train or sitting in traffic, people who live around the country, then around the world. Imagine all those people on the receiving end of your good wishes.

For a more specific loving kindness practice, you may refer to a pre-written script or listen to an audio meditation. There is really no wrong way to wish kindness for everyone! As long as it’s your sole focus for a few minutes, practicing loving kindness will help you embrace a bigger world and help to put stress in perspective. Practice loving kindness this Monday and let positive wishes wash over everyone!