Incorporating the Loving Kindness Compassion Meditation into Your Yoga Practice

The practice of loving-kindness is a wonderful way to enhance any yoga or meditation practice because it reinforces the concept of love and compassion. Loving-kindness is a natural byproduct of any yoga practice and it is also related to the four virtues, which are a part of the Yoga Sutras.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a collection of 195 Sanskrit Sutras on the theory and practice of yoga. This sutra was amongst the most translated ancient Indian texts in the medieval era.

Within the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali we find the four virtues:

  1. Friendliness toward the happy
  2. Compassion toward the unhappy
  3. Delight in the virtuous
  4. Indifference towards the wicked

These four virtues have much in common with the loving-kindness compassion practice. The virtues are all about striving for a state where we live more sweetly and comfortably within ourselves and how we can find ways to achieve calmness of mind through the practice of these virtues.

Each of us is continually working on our own unique experiences when it comes to our self-worth and sense of empowerment. Both yoga and the loving-kindness practice help support that goal.

Loving-kindness can help us expand the love and compassion we feel within our own heart and soul, which makes it a natural extension of any yoga practice.

The loving-kindness meditation is a wonderful technique that can not only help boost well-being but also reduce stress. Practicing this technique, both within meditation and as part of your yoga practice, can help you enhance your capacity for compassion and forgiveness, as well as strengthen your connection to others. 

While it may seem like a simple concept, the practice of loving-kindness is not always easy because it involves both acceptance and allowance. In other words, you have to allow yourself to receive your own love and also be open to sending it back out into the world freely.

The loving-kindness meditation is a very popular meditation technique. The original name of the practice is "Metta Bhavana", which is derived from the language known as Pali. Metta translates to love, friendliness or kindness, and Bhavana means the development of cultivation.

The standard meditation practice takes place in five stages, each lasting approximately five minutes or so.

Benefits of the Loving Kindness Meditation

In one study, published in the Harvard Review of Psychology in 2018, evidence was presented that compassion-based interventions like the loving-kindness meditation may even be beneficial in the treatment of chronic pain.

Other studies have shown that this type of meditation technique may also be useful in the management of things like social anxiety, anger, marital conflict, and caregiving stress. Studies have shown that compassion techniques like loving-kindness may help enhance the activation of areas within the brain that are involved with emotional processing and empathy. Practicing the loving-kindness technique may also help you feel a greater sense of hope and positivity as well as greater levels of emotional resilience.

How to Practice Loving-Kindness

There are many ways to practice loving-kindness. You may choose to follow this meditation exactly like it is or incorporate some of these techniques between asanas. The loving-kindness meditation can be practiced either before class or after class. 

Stage One

Stage one is all about finding the love within yourself. Begin by taking 2-3 deep and cleansing breaths to ground and center your energy. Start to become aware of yourself and focus on feelings of confidence and strength. Focus on the love you feel within your heart. Imagine a golden light flooding into your body, through the crown of your head. As you picture this, repeat the following phrases:

"May I be well and happy."
"May I be free from hatred."
"May I be protected from dangers."
"May my heart be filled with love."

Keep focusing your attention on yourself as you repeat these phrases (or similar phrases).

Stage Two

Stage two involves sending this love out to someone you care about like a good friend. As you think of this person, picture them as vividly as you can. Feel the connection you have with them while repeating the following phrases in your mind:

"May they be well and happy."
"May they be filled with love."

You can also envision an image such as a golden shining light from your heart connecting to their heart.

Stage Three

Stage three involves sending this love out to someone your feelings are neutral towards - someone you do not particularly like or dislike. As you go through this stage, try and reflect on their humanity and include them as you continue to cultivate loving-kindness while repeating the following phrases in your mind:

"May they be well and happy."
"May they be filled with love."

Stage Four

Stage four involves thinking of someone you dislike; this could also be an enemy. Try and focus on feelings of positivity as opposed to feelings of hatred. Send your feelings of loving-kindness to them if you can while repeating the following phrases in your mind:

"May they be well and happy."
"May they be filled with love."

Stage Five

Now in this final stage, try and think of all of these people together, yourself, your friend, the neutral person, and the enemy. Try and extend your feelings of loving-kindness to everyone and keep expanding these feelings to the people in your neighborhood, the people in your city, and the people throughout the world.

Picture these waves of loving-kindness expanding out to everyone. See the love in your heart expanding out exponentially and connecting with all beings everywhere.

"May everyone be well and happy."
"May everyone be free from hatred."
"May everyone be protected from dangers."
"May everyone’s heart be filled with love."

Send everyone a message of love and then peace. As you reflect on these ideals try to make these principles a part of your life.

The loving-kindness practice is all about sharing all of the goodness and peace in your heart. Loving-kindness grows exponentially as it is shared by others. Everyone who practices this adds to the universal consciousness of these good feelings, spreading kindness and goodwill to everyone they come in contact with. Much like the butterfly effect, every time you practice and share these ideals the ripples of love spread out like a burst of radiant energy.

As you can see, the loving-kindness practice is a wonderful way to enhance any yoga or meditation practice, by reinforcing the concept of love and compassion.

Are you looking to share your yoga practice with a greater audience? Are you thinking of taking your practice online? If you’re looking to teach yoga classes in a more personal setting, such as one-on-one online video sessions as you build your practice, sign up to become an online yoga instructor on our easy-to-use fitness and wellness platform today.

Are you looking for some simple tips when it comes to creating a meditation space? Check out Leslie’s Planet Blessed blog for 5 tips for creating a simple meditation space.

 

By Leslie Riopel

Leslie is the creator of PlanetBlessed.org and the co-author of the Bless the Mess Mindfulness Journal: 53 Unique Mindfulness Exercises for Sur-Thriving in a Challenging New World available on Amazon.

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