A Quick Love and Kindness Meditation to Help Feel Better
Intending warm wishes to create peaceful energy for all of us.
Posted Nov 01, 2020
I am creating this blog post less than two full days away from the United States presidential election. Between this election and the current pandemic, most of us are pretty stressed out—to say the least. In fact, this current election season tends to have people feeling more polarized than ever before.
Fear and anxiety about COVID-19 and what could happen has been overwhelming and causing strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, have made people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. Not surprisingly, in the case of stressful times, there is a strong sense of a lack of love and kindness in the air.
So, I have a suggestion: Let's create and infuse as much love and kindness within ourselves and spread it around to the full extent that we can. Seriously! What's the downside? Near as I can tell, there is no downside at all.
Do you know anyone who struggles in life because they have too much love and kindness within them or because they intend too much for the world around them? The meditation and follow up questions I will be sharing below can be done anytime, as frequently as possible. In fact, the more you practice intending love and kindness, the better you will feel, the more positive others will feel about you, and you will be doing your part to make the world a spiritually better place.
The following love and kindness meditation is adapted from an activity in my recent book, The Anxiety, Depression, & Anger Toolbox for Teens. It works well for all ages. As I describe there in detail, love and kindness meditations increase positive emotions and decreases negative ones, increase empathy, reduce bias towards others, and lower self-criticism.
Now Let's Intend Love & Kindness
Take a few breaths. As you breathe in and out, picture the faces of your friends, your neighbors, your community, and those in the world as a whole. Let the care and value you see in them arise before your mind’s eye (drawing from your experiences and feelings about them to enhance the mental image). Reflect on their faces with gratitude as you appreciate what each of them brings to you and teaches you.
Feel the positive energy you gain from having them as people to send warm, kind wishes. Now close your eyes and take a few mindful breaths and imagine sending a wave of caring, supportive energy as far-reaching as you can. Feel your heartbeat with joy while reflecting on the gift of your established and imagined connections with others.
Do you feel as if there’s more caring energy in your heart to help others around you thrive and survive?
How might tuning in to the value of sending love and kindness to others help you feel lower tensions with those you know and toward the world around you? How about from within yourself?
Now try doing the same exercise as above while focusing even more intently on the faces of people you distantly know. Focus now also on those people you feel that you do not like. Do you feel there is more openness and acceptance for those whom you have not gotten close to or dislike?
How can this energy help you feel more in harmony with those you are not as close to, even if it is only within your mind?
Intending love and kindness for others is not a new idea, by any means. Yet, don't we tend to overlook these things in life that can make us feel better? So how about making love and kindness meditations part of your life going forward? If you commit to just a few minutes each day, it will be easier to stick with it. The more you are not attached to seeing the benefits, the more you will experience them. I hope you will join me and send positive, warm wishes to everyone you can. Please spread the word. We all really need it!
For more about Dr. Jeff, click here.
Bernstein, J. (2020). The Anxiety, Depression, & Anger Toolbox for Teens, Eau Claire, WI: PESI Publishing.
Bernstein, J. (2015). 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child (2nd Ed.) Perseus Books, New York, NY.
Bernstein J. (2009) Liking the Child You Love, Perseus Books, New York, NY.
Bernstein, J. (2019). The Stress Survival Guide for Teens. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Bernstein, J. (2017). Letting go of Anger—Card deck for teens. Eau Claire, WI: PESI Publishing.
Bernstein, J. (2003) Why Can't You Read My Mind? Perseus Books, New York, NY.
Bernstein, J. (2017). M
Seppälä, E. (2014). 18 Science-Backed Reasons to Try Loving-Kindness Meditation, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-it/201409/18-science-backed-reasons-try-loving-kindness-meditation
Klimeck, O. M, Leiberg, S., Lamm, C, Singer, T (2014) Functional neural plasticity and associated changes in positive affect after compassion training https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22661409/
Kang Y, Gray J. R., Dovidio J. F. (2014). The nondiscriminating heart: lovingkindness meditation training decreases implicit intergroup bias https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23957283/