On a purely physiological level meditation triggers the release of feel good chemicals in the brain, including oxytocin – the same chemical that is involved in the bonding of a mother to her child, and a lover to his or her beloved.
Meditation is achieved following some key steps;
Take a Moment to Reflect
When we disengage from the monkey mind’s constant chatter, we create a space that allows us to choose how to respond to situations, rather than just react.
The key to this practice is to notice your reactions – your thoughts and feelings – without becoming caught up in them. Just let them be there. In Meditation we practice the art of allowing the mind to wander and calm. In life, If you are confronted by a stressful situation, allow the thoughts to occur, acknowledge and release them. The less you struggle, the more likely they will just dissipate on their own.
Kindness Begins With You
Kindness is not something you have to work at or strive for in meditation; the emergence of kindness and compassion is something that happens when you allow yourself to just be.
How? Just sitting with the breath is one way to allow kindness to emerge, but there are also specific practices that can help us cultivate an attitude of kindness. These practices are called ‘metta’ or loving kindness meditations, or inner smile meditation.
How to Practicing Loving Kindness Meditation
- When practicing loving kindness meditation first connect with the breath until the mind becomes still. Don’t try to control the breath, just breath naturally, noticing the air coming in and going out.
- When you are calm imagine someone who has been kind to you – a teacher, or friend or colleague. It could be a real person or a figment of your imagination, a spiritual leader or teacher, or even a much loved pet. Picture this person or animal in your mind and then let go of the story. Focus your attention in your heart area for a few minutes.
- When you feel ready simply allow this feeling to expand to include your loved ones, then acquaintances and then strangers, expand the feeling around you seeing it touch all people and things.
Connecting with the breath and the heart makes us feel more connected within ourselves – more in tune with our own heart and mind. We become more aware of the beauty both within and without. We learn to accept ourselves more and judge ourselves less. We become more peaceful with the people around us.
As we let go of things that might otherwise have stressed us or upset us, we have more energy to extend in positive ways.