How to Practice a Loving-Kindness Meditation

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Dr. Karin Ryan, PsyD, LP, Clinic Director, Outpatient Therapist.        Keeping kindness in the forefront of our minds can be challenging. Yet, it’s increasingly important for our emotional and mental health. “There is a lot of hate, division, and anger around us these days. Love is the antidote to hate. So today we are going to talk about loving-kindness meditation,” says Dr. Karin Ryan, Clinic Director, and Outpatient Therapist at Nystrom & Associates.   Related: A Guided Healing Light Meditation 

Nystrom & Associates on Twin Cities Live 

Watch Dr. Karin Ryan on Twin Cities Live as she demonstrates the loving-kindness meditation.    

What is a Loving-Kindness Meditation? 

There are times we can all use a little extra positive intention in our day. Simple meditation techniques such as this one can be incorporated whenever you want to improve your emotional state, and they do not have to be complicated. “The loving-kindness meditation nurtures self-compassion and self-love, empathy and understanding, and radiates kindness to others. Research indicates many benefits to the mind and body of this practice. This is not a religious practice, but it can be connected to your faith if you would like.”  Related: 3 Ways Meditation Helps Your Mental Health 

How to Practice a Loving-Kindness Meditation 

To get prepared for this meditation, first, move to a quiet space and sit with your back supported or lie down. Take a few deep breaths and feel your body settle in. Draw your attention to your heart. Imagine your heart filling with gratitude and warmth. Related: How Gratitude Can Change Your Life

1. Start by showing yourself loving-kindness.

Repeat positive words or blessings toward yourself, such as: 
  • May I be happy.
  • May I be safe.
  • May I be healthy.
  • May I have peace.
Repeat them at least three times (10 times is even better). As you are saying these things, you will start to feel your body calm and slow down. "If you have a hard time giving yourself love, you can imagine someone that really loves and supports you sitting next to you and feel the love they have for you in your heart. Or, you can draw upon the energy of the things in nature that feel beautiful to you, or the person that was kind to you at the grocery store." 

2. Think of someone you care about.

Think of a loved one or friend and send them well wishes in the meditation.
  • May you be happy
  • May you be safe.
  • May you be healthy.
  • May you have peace.

3. Think of someone you know casually or barely know.

Send them the positive wishes above. This is another way to give back kindness to others.

4. Imagine someone you do not care for much.

This is the hardest step of the loving-kindness meditation. Imagine someone whom you think is not worthy of a kind consideration. Can you include them in your loving-kindness meditation? Can you send them the wishes? It's perfectly okay if you are not ready for this step. When you are, it can be helpful to send them loving-kindness, with the idea that sending loving-kindness out into the world is what we want to get back.
We can do all or some of the steps.  For sending loving-kindness to those you had a hard time caring for, it helps to start with someone you have "a little" anger at and work your way up to more challenging individuals. With our current state of divisiveness, we have no shortage of those we disagree with. Loving-kindness reduces our rage and improves our emotional state.
In addition, “The words that I used for the wishes/blessing/positive thoughts can absolutely be adjusted to whatever fits you best.”  The beauty of meditation is it can be personalized however you want.  Related: Anger Management & Mental Health 

A Word From Nystrom & Associates 

Practicing a loving-kindness meditation can help improve your emotional health, which in turn, helps your mental health. If you are in need of mental health services, like therapy, psychology, or substance use treatment, please reach out today. Talk with us at 1-844-NYSTROM or request an appointment online.  Related: 5 Mental Health Myths Debunked 

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