Loving Kindness – 12 Minutes
The Loving Kindness Meditation is a simple, heart-centered meditation technique with roots in Buddhism, sometimes called Metta. Practiced around the world, Metta cultivates compassion for one’s self and others. Compassion is the natural state of the heart and mind, which is motivated by cherishing other living beings and wishes to release them from their suffering. In this meditation practice, you gather your attention to focus on a specific compassionate phrase that you repeat silently. During this practice, it is important that you don’t force a warm and fuzzy feeling or get rid of unpleasant or undesirable ones. Instead of expecting to feel a particular way or judging and analyzing what you do feel, allow whatever happens just to happen – with a beginner’s mind. If your mind wanders, notice what has captured your attention and then gently return to the practice at hand. Feel free to come up with your own phrases of compassion.
Breath Awareness – 5 Minutes
The simple act of breathing in and out of our nose accesses the parasympathetic nervous system, which automatically calms and relaxes us. Paying attention to our breath is a simple way to connect to your present moment and become more self-aware and more mindful. The best part? You can practice breath awareness anywhere. Take note if you find yourself practicing this meditation at other points in the day.
Body Awareness – 10 Minutes
Focusing our attention on physical sensations helps to relieve stress by shifting our attention to the present moment. If your attention drifts (and it will!), simply bring yourself back to the physical sensations. As you explore the physical sensations as they come and go, you become a witness to your body and breath, and this helps you develop present-moment awareness.
Mantra – 10 Minutes
Mantra in Sanskrit means a tool to train the brain. It is an effective tool that requires only a gentle repetition and can be especially effective for those of us who have type “A” tendencies. Repeating any phrase over and over again (aloud or silently) can settle down the nervous system and create new neural pathways. Repetition in a formal meditation practice, which can involve repeating a number, phrase, mantra, prayer, or affirmation, can help train one’s attention to focus more easily on one thing at a time. It allows us to interrupt our thought patterns so ultimately our thoughts become more subtle and eventually our awareness merges with the silence that underlies the thoughts. In this practice we will be using the common Sanskrit mantra HUM-SAH which means “I am that,” and meant to remind of our universal connection. As we repeat, it is good to know that it is less about the meaning and more about the sound vibration. As thoughts arise, we gently return to the repetition of the mantra.