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What Is Loving-Kindness Meditation?

Learn about a variety of loving-kindness meditations and why they are good for well-being.



Have you heard about loving-kindness meditation but you're not sure what it is or how to do it? Or, do you want to try some different kinds of loving-kindness meditation? In this article, we'll talk a bit about the research behind this type of meditation and give you some to try.

What Is Loving Kindness Meditation?

Loving-kindness meditation (also sometimes called Metta meditation) is a type of Buddhist meditation that can help you cultivate unconditional kind attitudes toward yourself and others. It involves repeating (out loud or in your head) phrases, such as “may you be happy” or “may you be free from suffering” toward specific others and yourself. Sometimes, loving-kindness meditation also involves visualizing positive energy or light directed towards these individuals (Zeng et al., 2015).

It's thought that loving-kindness meditation helps us cultivate four positive attitudes. These attitudes are:

  1. Unselfish friendliness

  2. Compassion

  3. Appreciative joy

  4. Equanimity (mental calmness, even in difficult situations; Zeng et al., 2015).

In addition to these attitudes (or perhaps because of them), loving-kindness meditation has also been shown to have a variety of positive impacts on well-being. Loving-kindness meditation is especially well-known for increasing positive emotions (Zeng et al., 2015), but it also has been shown to increase feelings of social connection (Hutcherson, Seppala, & Gross, 2008), mindfulness, self-compassion, and even PTSD symptoms (Kearney et al., 2013). Overall, loving-kindness meditation appears to be good for well-being.


Loving-Kindness Meditations

If you've never tried loving-kindness meditation before, you might want to start with a short one. The guided loving-kindness meditation video below is only 5 minutes and can give you a good sense of what loving-kindness meditation is like.



In Sum

As you now see, loving-kindness meditation is a relatively easy and fun way to boost positive emotions and well-being. A short meditation can fit in a spare five minutes you have while riding the bus, or you could listen to a longer meditation at bedtime to go to sleep. If it seems like a good fit to you, then try to make the time for loving-kindness meditation, as it can have many benefits.

References

  • Hutcherson, C. A., Seppala, E. M., & Gross, J. J. (2008). Loving-kindness meditation increases social connectedness. Emotion, 8(5), 720.

  • Kearney, D. J., Malte, C. A., McManus, C., Martinez, M. E., Felleman, B., & Simpson, T. L. (2013). Loving‐kindness meditation for posttraumatic stress disorder: A pilot study. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26(4), 426-434.

  • Zeng, X., Chiu, C. P., Wang, R., Oei, T. P., & Leung, F. Y. (2015). The effect of loving-kindness meditation on positive emotions: a meta-analytic review. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 1693.


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