Loving-Kindness Meditation: Heal Your Heart, Heal The World

“When we heal ourselves, we heal the world. For as the body is only as healthy as its individual cells, the world is only as healthy as its individual souls.”

– Mark Nepo,  The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have

When difficulties arise in our lives and in the world at large, our instinct is to ask, Who is to blame?

And rightfully so; many of our problems can be attributed to forces beyond our control. Even still, it’s worth remembering that the larger the issue, the more systemic the cause—and so, more people will be involved in the process of change.

Despite our intuition—our inner voice that tells us that resolving discord of any kind is going to take much more than blaming The Man—we still want to know how the chips came to fall the way they did; we want to know who should atone for the pain in the world.

But the unsavoury truth is this: we can make tweaks and changes to legislation until we are blue in the face. We can alter what we say, and the way we say things, until we have spent decades perfecting the script. But humans aren’t robots: repeating a cold rule won’t warm our hearts. Repeating a speech of love won’t change our actions.

Real change requires real love: and love, in all its power, comes from the transformation of individual hearts.

The capacity to truly love one another doesn’t come from an understanding of laws and bylaws, or a regurgitation of training manuals. It doesn’t come from a fear of consequences. And it certainly doesn’t come from simply deciding to tolerate others and our differences.

It is an irrevocable law of the universe that love conquers all. And only love can conquer all. Love transmutes strife into solidarity, tragedy into triumph, and prejudice into peace.

So long as we don’t point our finger back at ourselves, and do our due diligence to better ourselves, we will always lose in the battle against hate and dissension.

Improving the state of our individual consciousness—i.e., fanning the flame of love in our own hearts—is the prerequisite for advancing the greater consciousness of humanity, and is ultimately what will move us towards psychological evolution, as Clare Graves delineates in Spiral Dynamics.

Without getting to this root cause of injustice and inhumanity—this lack of genuine love for everyone, irrespective of race, gender, religion or favourite ice cream—we will always find ourselves back in the thick of a riot, in the middle of a brokenhearted crowd.

Neighbourhoods will remain unsafe, poverty will continue to prevail, young black boys will still be afraid to walk home from school, women will still be hesitant to go hiking alone, immigrants will still be ashamed for expressing their culture, gay and transgender communities will continue to fear for their reputations—

and we will all meet each other where we began,

wondering, after all this time,

after all we’ve been through,

how haven’t things changed?

Creating a Meditative World

“Touch your inner space, which is nothingness, as silent and empty as the sky; it is your inner sky. Once you settle down in your inner sky, you have come home, and a great maturity arises in your actions, in your behaviour. Then whatever you do has grace in it. Then whatever you do is a poetry in itself. You live poetry; your walking becomes dancing, your silence becomes music.”

– Osho

As fate would have it, transforming our hearts is remarkably simple. And transforming individual hearts will lead to a rapid, exponential evolution of human consciousness. It is deceptively simple, but it is by no means easy.

It comes down to developing the skill of meta-awareness; the capacity to recognize that there within us is a person who is thinking; it is creating separation from our thoughts, so that we do not immediately react, identify, or suppress them.

“If we can make just 1% of the population meditative, this world will be a different place.”

– Sadhguru

Meta-awareness, or meta-cognition, is developed through meditative practices. Learning to meditate is a foundational skill for living a fulfilled life, and it has many benefits; but it is outside the scope of this article. I’ve previously discuss how to meditate, as well as the transformative power of meditation.

Healing The Human Heart with Metta Meditation

Metta meditation will transform every one of your relationships, because it transforms your relationship with yourself—which, of course, is the foundation of all other relationships. Meditation will enable you to cultivate a deep self-respect and appreciation for your true self; a love that stems from the vantage point of divinity, not the clutches of ego.

Metta meditation is a concentration practice, a specific type of meditation. Whereas mindfulness practices like vipassana are open awareness or insight practices, concentration practices focus the mind on a certain mantra or object of meditation.

Metta meditation affects change in the human heart. Its purpose is to cultivate a radiant inner and outer disposition of loving-kindness, by directing thoughts of love to ourselves, to others, and to the world.

Typically, we begin this practice by directing loving-kindness to ourselves. But many teachers like Sam Harris in his course Waking Up prefer to direct the mantras (phrases for the meditation) to others first.

How to Practice Metta Meditation

1. Sit in upright and in a comfortable position, either cross-legged on a cushion, or in a chair. Gently close your eyes.

2. Begin to pay attention to your breath; follow the natural inhales and exhales; do not worry about changing the breath. Just let it come and go.

3. Take note of tension in your body; relax your jaw, shoulders, arms, legs, and release tension in your abdomen. Do not worry if you cannot release tension in any part of your body.

4. Bring to mind someone you know; preferably someone you don’t have strong feelings towards, perhaps an acquaintance. Imagine this person going about their day.

5. Imagine this person smiling. Now repeat the following phrases several times as you envision this person growing in happiness:

May you be happy.

May you be free from suffering.

May all your hopes in this life be realized.

6. Feel a warmth growing in your chest. Continue to repeat these phrases, bringing someone else to mind, someone you really want to be happy. Perhaps this is a child, a friend, or a family member. It is best not to use romantic partners or anyone for whom you have strong feelings.

7. Now bring yourself to mind, as a child. Imagine yourself at 10 years old, as you laugh and play. Repeat the following phrases several times as you imagine your younger self:

May you be happy.

May you be free from suffering.

May all your hopes in this life be realized.

8. Feel the sense of love grow within you. Now bring yourself to mind, as you are now. Remind yourself that you are also deserving of love and happiness. Repeat the following phrases to yourself:

May I be happy.

May I be free from suffering.

May all my hopes in this life be realized.

9. Slowly stop repeating the phrases. Continue to feel into your heart and body.

10. Take a few deep breaths, and when you are ready to do so, open your eyes.

Did you try this meditation? Do you meditate already?

Let us know in the comments below.

One thought on “Loving-Kindness Meditation: Heal Your Heart, Heal The World

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s