Loving Kindness Meditation – Cultivating Compassion for Self and Others

Loving Kindness Meditation – Cultivating Compassion for Self and Others

What is Loving Kindness Meditation?

Metta Bhavana is the original name of this practice originating from the Buddhist tradition, which can be practised by anyone regardless of religious affiliation. Metta means (non-romantic) ‘love’, kindness, or friendliness: hence ‘Loving Kindness’ for short. Bhavana means ‘development’ or ‘cultivation’. Research shows that Loving Kindness meditation has numerous benefits from reducing self-criticism and depressive symptoms (Shahar et al 2014) to increasing positive emotions such as joy, love, gratitude, contentment and hope (Frederickson et al 2008)

I have recorded this Loving Kindness meditation for you to help cultivate a deeper sense of kindness, compassion, goodwill and appreciation for yourself and the world around you.

Knitting for Stress Relief – Stress Awareness Month

Knitting for Stress Relief – Stress Awareness Month

Did you know that April is Stress Awareness Month?

One of my favourite ways of to manage stress (besides yoga!) is knitting.

I’m a newish knitter, currently making this cowl (pictured) to practise knitting in the round on double-pointed needles. I find the process of knitting meditative and calming. Not only is it brilliant learning a new skill, it is very helpful for stress relief and my mental health. And I’m not alone. It has been shown in research over many years that knitting (and crochet) has physical and mental health benefits. Just last month there were calls to prescribe knitting on the NHS. Charity organisation Knit for Peace (www.knitforpeace.org.uk) carried out a widespread review on the health benefits of knitting after receiving testimonials from their 15,000 volunteers about how it had improved their lives.

Sounds like a perfect reason to get knitting!

(P.S. If you’re interested in finding out more about the work of Knit for Peace and supporting their work by donating knitted or crocheted items or cash you can find more information at their website.

 

May You Be Well

May You Be Well

 

Loving-Kindness (Metta Bhavana) Meditation

Metta – (non-romantic) love, friendliness, kindness

Bhavana – cultivation or development

 

To begin your meditation, find a comfortable place to lie down or sit. Your eyes can be open or closed.

Start by offering Loving-Kindness to yourself by reciting silently several times:

“May I be Well, May I be Happy, May I be Safe, May I Live with Ease”.

It is perfectly normal for the mind to wander – for distractions to arise, for thoughts to pop up. When this happens, just guide yourself back to reciting:

“May I be Well, May I be Happy, May I be Safe, May I Live with Ease”.

Now think of a family member or friend – someone close to you. See them in your mind’s eye as clearly as you can. Offer them what you have just offered yourself by silently reciting, several times:

“May You be Well, May You be Happy, May You be Safe, May You Live with Ease”.

Now, think of somebody who you know is having a difficult time and with this person in mind, continuing to recite, again several times:

“May You be Well, May You be Happy, May You be Safe, May You Live with Ease”.

Next, think of somebody you feel neutral about. Someone you neither particularly like or dislike and wish them well by silently reciting, several times:

“May You be Well, May You be Happy, May You be Safe, May You Live with Ease”.

Now, bringing to mind a person you do not like. Offer Loving-Kindness to this person:

“May You be Well, May You be Happy, May You be Safe, May You Live with Ease”.

If it feels too hard to do the latter, then return to offering Loving-Kindness to yourself, silently reciting:

“May I be Well, May I be Happy, May I be Safe, May I Live with Ease”.

To complete your meditation by thinking of all these people, yourself included, and then extend your offering of Loving-Kindness to everyone around you. To everyone far away. To all beings everywhere, silently reciting, several times:

“May All Beings be Well, May All Beings be Happy, May All Beings be Safe, May All Beings Live with Ease”.

If you like this meditation, you can find find my downloadable meditations and yoga nidras here.

 

 

 

Yin Yoga: Half Saddle Pose

Yin Yoga: Half Saddle Pose

If the full version of Saddle Pose feels too much then give Half Saddle a try. Like the full version, Half Saddle can also be a satisfying stretch for the quads and hip flexors. This pose also provides a gentle opening of the front body, a release for the upper back as well as extension in the lower back – a lovely counter to sitting for long periods with a rounded back.

In this short video filmed at Embody Wellness I show you some propping options for this pose. On an energetic level, this pose stimulates the Kidney, Urinary, Spleen and Stomach meridian lines.

NB – Proceed with caution if you have knee or back injuries. If any numbness is felt while here then carefully come out of the pose. (Numbness can be a sign that you are putting pressure on your nerves.) Also, if your knee lifts off the ground, then ease yourself out of the pose until your knee is touching the ground again.

Aim to remain in your Half Saddle Pose for 1-3 minutes on each side if you are a beginner or 3-5 minutes if you are an experienced practitioner.

Enjoy your yoga practice.

You can join me here at Embody Wellness every week for Sunday Flow & Release (yoga flow + yin yoga) and Friday Flow & Restore (yoga flow + restorative yoga + yoga nidra) 6-7.15pm.

NB – Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, speak to your doctor before practising yoga.

Winter Yin Yoga: Saddle Pose

Winter Yin Yoga: Saddle Pose

In this short video filmed at Embody Wellness in Vauxhall I am showing you Saddle Pose.

On an energetic level this yin posture stimulates the Kidney and Urinary Bladder meridiansassociated with the Winter season – and also the Spleen and Stomach lines. Here I’m using a bolster propped up on two blocks to provide extra support.

Aim to stay in your Saddle Pose for 1-3 minutes.

Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, speak to your doctor before practising yoga.

You can join me here at Embody Wellness every week for Sunday Flow & Release (yoga flow + yin yoga) and Friday Flow & Restore (yoga flow + restorative yoga + yoga nidra) 6-7.15pm

Not able to make it to a class? Find more of my yoga videos here.