Do you take care of yourself? If you can’t say a definite yes, it could be because you have forgotten about self-care while you’re busy taking care of others. But you must learn to love yourself first before you learn to give love to others. To make this a habit, you might want to learn about the practice of love and compassion meditation, also called loving-kindness meditation (LKM).
People who regularly practice compassion and love meditation become more capable of showing self-acceptance, connecting to others, forgiving, and more. They also tend to become calmer faster.
When you practice loving-kindness meditation, you focus all the love you can give on yourself and other people. You can enjoy the usual benefits of meditation, plus the warmth of care and compassion for yourself. But these benefits are not only limited to the emotional and spiritual aspects of yourself. Some studies also show that this meditation also benefits your mental and physical health.
A study published in Harvard Review of Psychology July/August 2018 had authors concluding that love and compassion meditation may benefit those who are undergoing treatment for borderline personality disorder and chronic pain. However, more studies need to have conducted to confirm these potential effects of LKM.
Some studies also showed how this practice could help in managing marital conflict, social anxiety, anger, and relieving the stress of being a caregiver.
Another study suggested that love and compassion meditation activates brain areas that improve your emotional processing and empathy, helping you become more optimistic instead of pessimistic.
These benefits still need more studies, but starting your meditation practice now won’t cost you a thing anyway. It will give you the typical benefits of traditional meditation, so you might want to give it a try now.
How to Start Love and Compassion Meditation
Here are some techniques you can try to practice love and compassion meditation:
1. Spend a few minutes of quiet time and find a comfortable sitting position. Shut your eyes, relax, and take deep breaths. Inhale, exhale.
2. Imagine how you would feel if you have inner peace. Imagine being emotionally well. Think about how you will feel if you can only show perfect love, gratitude, and care for yourself. Imagine exhaling tension and breathing in love and all the good things that you deserve.
3. Tell yourself three reassuring and positive phrases. You can say, “May I enjoy inner peace” and something along this line.
4. Embrace the warmth that your self-love and self-compassion can give you. If you notice yourself losing focus, remember once more what it was like to feel kindness, the kindness that you give to yourself.
5. Choose whether to continue showering positivity upon yourself or to start focusing on your loved ones. Think about your kids, spouse, partner, parent, or friends. Imagine how much you love them and how grateful you are for them. Repeat some reassuring phrases for them too. You can say, “May you be happy” and similar positive statements.
6. After giving off positive feelings for your loved ones, start focusing these feelings on other important people in your life. Again, imagine all the good feelings of compassion and loving-kindness. You can even direct these feelings to groups of people from other parts of the world.
7. When you’re done with your love and compassion meditation, open your eyes. You can repeat this meditation practice anytime you have spare time throughout the day. Savor the feelings of love, gratitude, and compassion and let these make you feel good all day long.