Metta meditation offers a boost of love for you, the kids, and the world.
Loving-kindness meditation, or Metta meditation, is an ultimate form of generosity, selflessness, and love toward ourselves and others. In fact, Metta is a Pali word for benevolence, friendship, affection, and kindness. The Dhammapada says, “Hatred cannot co-exist with love and kindness. It dissipates when supplanted with thoughts of love and compassion.” Try a Metta meditation.
May I be happy, may you be happy, and may all our family members be happy. May I be safe, may you be safe, and may all of our family members be safe. May I be peaceful, may you be peaceful, and may all our family members be peaceful.
Research in neuroimaging studies indicates compassion and loving-kindness meditation regulates the functioning of the limbic system, the brain site in charge of processing emotions and empathy. The effect of loving-kindness meditation lasts a lifetime. Studies have proven that loving-kindness meditation is useful for the clinical population and can be used as a part of extensive cognitive and behavioral retreats (Lutz et al., 2009). Regular practitioners find this meditation an excellent way for self-disclosure, motivation, and empathy — the basic positive emotions that create a healthy mind (Smith, 2015).
“Caring Feelings,” a child-friendly version of loving-kindness meditation, was formulated by the school wellness program Little Flower Yoga. Try this Metta meditation with your child.
Start in a comfortable position with your eyes closed or looking downward. Think of a person or animal you love. Imagine that person or animal and send them caring feelings. Now, together, you send wishes to the person you brought to mind. Notice how this makes your heart feel. Say the following: May you be happy; may you be healthy; may you be peaceful; may you be filled with joy.
Next, you are to expand this feeling and send kind thoughts to family members — siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Say to them: May you be happy; may you be healthy; may you be peaceful; may you be filled with joy.
Next, imagine sending loving-kindness to all the children worldwide, the ones you know and those you do not know, the ones in your neighborhood, and those living far away in other countries. Say to them: May you be happy; may you be healthy; may you be peaceful; may you be filled with joy.
Now finally, we will send loving-kindness to ourselves. Sometimes it can be challenging to send kind wishes to yourself, but if you learn how, you can always give yourself a boost of love when you need it. Imagine yourself sitting in a quiet, safe, and comfortable place. Say to yourself three times: May I be happy; may I be healthy; may I be peaceful; may I be filled with joy.
Sit quietly for a moment and when you are ready, open your eyes, asking your child how they feel about sending the feelings out, particularly how it feels to send them to themselves.
Ask them if there is anyone they would like to send kind feelings to before you end. As you expand on loving-kindness, send kind thoughts to someone who has been bugging him lately. However, avoid anyone your child may be frightened of or infuriated at.
Loving kindness is an antidote to negative thoughts. Children and adults who have learned to send kind thoughts throughout the day have shown an increase in positive emotions and thought regulation.
Anthony Cupo is a Trained Mindfulness Facilitator (TMF) from the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is a co-owner of Stepping Forward Counseling Center, LLC, and has been meditating for over 30 years. Our article is also published in ParentingOC’s Magazine!