The benefits of meditation are touted by celebrities and maybe even your mom on a daily basis. But, is meditation really the key to happiness? What if you don’t have time? What if you have no idea where to start? What if you just can’t concentrate for a long period of time on … well, nothing.
I had voiced all, if not more, of these excuses at one time or another (like just yesterday, to be specific). But, after reading that meditation can help you not only think clearer but also discover self-sabotaging behaviors and stop them, I thought I might give it a try.
I thought, well, why not? Let’s see what happens if I meditate for a month. You can do anything for 30 days.
Meditation is not just one thing. If you are under the assumption that meditation is about sitting on a floor with your eyes closed for hours on end, you would be wrong. There are a myriad of ways to meditate, and chances are, there’s one from which you can find success.
Loving Kindness Meditation
Who doesn’t want to feel loved? Unfortunately, we tend to look to others for that type of validation. (It’s OK; it’s part of the human condition to want to be loved and adored.) What if you found out that you are able to generate feelings of love for yourself any time you want?
You know that little jolt you get when someone notices you or tells you how nifty of a person you are? With loving kindness meditation, you don’t have to rely on someone else for it.
That way, you don’t go around lugging a suitcase full of desperation and codependence. Put that weight down.
Loving kindness meditation is cool because you can do it anywhere, even if you’re driving. You don’t have to close your eyes, you don’t necessarily have to be in a quiet place (that can help though), and you don’t have to chant.
In all honesty, this was the easiest meditation for me to tackle because I could do it anywhere without calling attention to myself.
Note: I did alter some best practices to fit my preference and lifestyle. For example, if I didn’t have 15 minutes to “receive love,” I told myself 10 was good enough. Life is busy even when you know you deserve “me” time.
- Bring your awareness inward. Concentrate on your body, and tell your thoughts to take a number because you’ll attend to them later.
- Receive loving vibes: Think about someone you love and have a relationship with. They can be alive or have passed. It can be a mentor, a partner, or a child. They are standing next to you and sending you thoughts of love, kindness, and warmth. Continue picturing more and more people standing around you with whom you enjoy a relationship. Visualize them circling you, sending you more and more thoughts of love. Do this until you are filled with overwhelming love and good vibes.(It took me about 5-6 minutes, depending upon my mood.)
- Send loving vibes: Because feelings are reciprocal, you must be able to send out good feelings as well as receive them. Reflect for a moment on the people you have visualized giving you love. Now, start with the person on your right.
Remember, “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” You need to fill yourself up with loving vibes before you can give them. Don’t be afraid to accept them.
My Meditation Results
The First 10 Days: I Think Too Much
I tend to really care about what other people think. I worry that I’m not being accepted, appreciated, and liked for all the good things I bring to the table. It can be a bit tiresome to care so much about those thoughts (that may or may not exist) and that probably mean nothing to my life. If you’re anything of a people pleaser, you’ll get it.
One day, after practicing the loving kindness meditation, I found that I chilled out on my reactions. Honestly, I expected something like feeling more love (and maybe I did), but I just became more indifferent to how people defined me. I didn’t think about it as much.
This allowed me to focus on my own goals and day-to-day experiences. Also, I remembered that about 95% of these “reactions” are indeed perceived and not real. Was this a byproduct of feeling loved and giving off loving vibes? Maybe.
The Next 10 Days: Making Room for More
At this point in the past, I probably would’ve dropped off my practice due to the “I’m too busy” excuse. But, because I made a commitment to this article and because it wasn’t taking too long, I kept going. And I’m really happy I did.
I kept focusing my love on more people in my life. And not just friends or casual acquaintances. I expanded it to other people I’ve come into contact with: business associates, past supervisors, networking contacts, old friends I haven’t spoken to in years, and even some folks who I’m not exactly interested in speaking to again.
A strange thing happened: I felt super focused on who I am, what I stand for, and what I believe. Again, I didn’t think this would be the result of feeling love for other people. Some I don’t even exactly have positive feelings for anymore.
As a result of being more focused, I started being clearer and more intentional with those who are strong forces in my life. I also started saying no to activities that I knew weren’t going to make me happy but otherwise would’ve said yes to just because I didn’t want to miss out on anything.
When I did this, I got to take part in more things that were incredibly beneficial. Positive events started appearing and making themselves known. I can’t really explain it. But, when I said no to things that I knew wouldn’t make me happy or when I just wasn’t “feeling it,” more joy came into my life in the form of more opportunities.
Coincidence? Maybe. But I think when you get extremely clear and focused on what you want AND what you don’t, good things can and will happen.
The Last 10 Days: I Am More Than Enough
Thirty days ago, I was a person who was incredibly worried about what others thought, had a tendency to be a bit needy, and was afraid of missing out on every tiny event or get–together. After 30 days of practicing the loving kindness meditation, I am still the same. But, I am definitely more aware of these types of downfalls.
I’ve become a little more familiar with my negative patterns of behavior. Granted, this isn’t like some huge change where I’m now the Mother Teresa of my workplace or can do the dishes every night without any kind of complaint, but I have noticed I’m a little bit more tolerant. A little bit more gracious. A little bit more content. I think this is because I feel loved. I know how to give love and find comfort in it.
What will happen if I keep this up? Who knows, but I’ll always complain about the dishes.
Looking for a way to make your meditation sesh even more chill? Try adding an essential oil, like Frankincense, to the mix.