Kindness Meditation: First Aid for the Heart

Maitryādiṣu balāni
By meditating on friendliness, kindness, and other such qualities, the power to transmit them is obtained.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 3:24

Once upon a time, when I was 6 years old, there was a rainy Saturday. I was cooped up in the house ALL DAY LONG! Just wishing the rain would just go AWAY. And THEN— [angels singing from the sky] the rain departed—and the sun came out! I was overjoyed and full of excess energy from being stuck inside so long. I ran outside and started doing cartwheels on my front lawn. On the wet grass. Which . . . was kind of slippery. Several cartwheels turned out fine . . . but then I hit this particularly slippery patch of grass . . . I slipped and rolled my ankle hard. It was pretty bad. It was seriously sprained.

Luckily, my mom knew the first-aid for a sprained ankle: R.I.C.E.—Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. Mom put me on the couch with some cartoons. She wrapped my ankle in an ace bandage, put an ice pack on it, elevated it with a stack of comfy pillows. She made me some black cherry Kool-Aid (my favorite) and told me to rest and trust my body to heal.

My ankle rarely hurts anymore. In fact, I do jumping jacks at least every other day and I’m pain-free! But once in a while, something triggers the old injury. Sometimes the injury is just a little ache or pain, not a big deal. Sometimes, I don’t even really notice it until the end of a long day, when I sit down. And once in a blue moon, I will do something and the ankle will swell up—and hurt enough I can’t concentrate—and I will have to R.I.C.E. it.

Similarly, I have some injuries in my heart from things that have happened. That’s life.

I have a happy life. I wake up most mornings excited to greet the day. I am blessed.

And yet once in a while, something triggers an old injury in my heart. And like the pain in my ankle, it might show up as a small tenderness. Or as a really tough feeling that requires “emotional first-aid.”

Meditating on Kindness is like R.I.C.E. for the heart. It is a simple, uplifting meditation technique that never fails to make me feel grounded, expansive and strong enough to handle whatever’s happening. Even if what’s happening is really tough. (The only trick is to set aside some time to do it.)

Kindness meditation is a time-honored tradition in yoga and Buddhism/meditation practices. Maitri (Sanskrit) or Metta (Pali) are the words used for a special feeling that is a combination of Friendliness, Kindness, Genuine Well-wishes, Loving-kindness. It’s how you feel in those moments when you genuinely, without reservation, feel friendly towards someone and wish them all the best. Maitri practice helps to create calm, tranquility and peace of mind. This, in and of itself, is therapeutic and enough of a meditation practice for anyone to work with. But for those interested in practicing longer meditation, Maitri meditation helps to get in the proper mood for a longer sitting.

Would you like to try it?
Here is a 10-minute offering from my heart to yours! Sit in a chair, or on the floor. Make yourself comfortable. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath . . . let it go. As your breath returns to its natural rhythm, begin this easy, mini-meditation on kindness.

Click here and listen along:

Interested in mindfulness to create a joyful life with more ease, happiness and meaning? Check out our upcoming Meditation Series this November. Spend three Saturday afternoons with Chintamani exploring a variety of meditation techniques to create a simple, joyful personal practice.

Chintamani teaches classic and specialty yoga, and is a longtime Teacher Trainer in the mang’Oh 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Program. She continues to study yoga, yoga for injuries and other healing modalities, including Anatomy, Pilates and Mindfulness Meditation.

Chintamani’s classes blend mindfulness, alignment and joyful movement; encouraging safety and skillfulness, as well as freedom and expression. Chintamani’s mission is to get us all to move, breathe, find our joy, and feel connected and smart.

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