Loving-kindness meditation can really help with depression and anxiety
Depression and anxiety can devastate your sense of self-worth; on this Mental Health Awareness Day just a few minutes of empathy directed at yourself can lighten the burden and have positive effects that are long-lasting.
October 10, 2017
Depression and chronic anxiety can strike anyone at any time and, unfortunately, too many of us suffer in silence. Believing that even loved ones won’t, or can’t, understand how it feels to be depressed and anxious – even about the small details of everyday life – further deepens a profound sense of isolation that only feeds into negative and intensely self-critical thoughts.
Loving-Kindness Meditation only takes a few minutes
Mindfulness Meditation has grown in popularity over the years, but there is another option for those of us who need something slightly different to stem the flow of painful and uncomfortable emotions. Loving-Kindness Meditation takes just a few minutes and doesn’t have to be a daily practice. Its power, however, has been scientifically proven.
The idea is so simple: by setting aside a little time to focus on feelings of love and empathy towards oneself and other people we learn acceptance. The development of empathy and a loving, understanding attitude towards yourself quells harmful self-criticism and allows you to better connect with loved ones.
How to do it
Find a quiet place and sit comfortably on a chair or cushion. Lying down could lead to drowsiness but, if it is comfortable for you, you can do this, too.
Just breathe in and breathe out. Listen to your breath, notice how it feels and sounds, and when your mind wanders off, bring your attention back to your breath.
Once you start to feel calmer and more centred, you can begin the first part of the meditation: sending loving feelings and thoughts to yourself. Feel empathy towards yourself and know that you are worthy of both, self-love and the love of others. Allowing these positive emotions to fill your awareness is an incredible first step.
Now spread the love a bit, and send love to someone close to you. Notice how great your love for them is, and don’t hold back – let the positive feelings fly where they will.
Think of someone that you have neutral feelings for, and again, send them all the love you can.
This last step is more difficult, but absolutely vital. This one speaks to the immense power of forgiveness and letting go of injuries that continue to cause you pain. Think of someone that has hurt you in the past, and realise that they are, like everyone else, imperfect. Even if you can’t send love at first, concentrate on sending them forgiveness.
WATCH: A guided meditation narrated by Loving-Kindness expert Emma Seppala. You can listen to it on your phone or tablet in a quiet place, and don’t feel any pressure to do the meditation “right”. “Good enough” will add to your life in so many ways.
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