Stretch your love muscles

Science confirms what many of us already know: a regular practice of meditation can increase your brain’s capacity to exercise patience, acceptance, compassion, and forgiveness. In fact, a study from Yale, Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows that meditation helps to positively change areas of the brain that are important for sensory, cognitive and emotional processing. And, what’s most fascinating is that the study participants were “regular” people with jobs, families, and stress (not monks!). 

Metta, is a particular meditation style that is a technique designed to intentionally expand compassion and love in your life. Metta is a Pali word translated as “love” or loving kindness (friendship), is a Buddhist mediation technique that helps develop and nurture your compassion for yourself and others. And even a few minutes every day can make a profound difference in your life.

Here’s how to do it:

Come into a comfortable seated position on the floor or in a chair. Rest your hands in your lap or on your knees. Close your eyes and relax your attention on the flow of your breath moving in and out of your body. When you begin to feel relaxed, gently repeat the following phrases softly out loud or in your mind: "May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be at peace." If these phrases don’t feel authentic to you, replace them with your own words along the same basic concept. After a few minutes of repeating the phrases, replace the 'I's with 'you's as you think of and visualize a specific person you fell love towards, then someone you feel neutral about, then someone you might have a little difficulty with, then lastly, the whole planet. Finish with a few slow, deep breaths, and notice how you feel. Take a moment or two before moving on with the rest of your day. If you can’t find time to practice the phrases at home, try them when you are standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for the train, or sitting in traffic. In fact, even if you do practice at home, practice again out in the world. Practicing the phrases when you are irritated at the store clerk or driver honking behind you can transform your experience of them, and everyone will benefit.