By Lauryn Zuk

“May I enjoy happiness and its causes,

May you enjoy happiness and its causes,

May all beings everywhere be happy (and free).”

I am not the expert on this subject. So why read any further? If you want to create the conditions in your mind for this ancient practice, but are a modern day skeptic… read on.

Loving-kindness meditation (sometimes called Metta) is what she says it is: sending love and kindness, warmth and good wishes using your mind.

Some of us have been conditioned to criticize our thoughts, judge our bodies, and roll our eyes at everything. So, softening into Metta takes lots of practice.

As a sarcastic skeptic myself, it has taken nearly a decade of various mindfulness practices to finally warm me up to the method I am describing today.

Though, I’ve practiced many forms of “yoga” or meditation, creating the conditions for loving- kindness meditation has been one of the most powerful and most challenging for me.

So, in true internet style – let’s reduce everything complicated into a list!

Here are 10 steps that may help you begin your Metta practice:

  1. Sit down, close your eyes and visualize someone you love, or someone you admire, or your most beloved pet
  2. Notice that feeling of pure love. What does the love look like? Does it have a colour? A shape or shapelessness? What does it feel like? A texture? A temperature? Where does it hit? The heart? The Gut? Notice it, FEEEEEL it
  3. Linger with that feeling, breathe into it, move into it, try and keep your eyes closed and gaze inward
  4. Continue to watch the feeling, but let the person or thing attached to that feeling start to fade as the feeling, begins to expand
  5. Watch the shape, the colour, the intensity, the pulsation, let it expand from the place of origination throughout your body form and even beyond that form….
  6. Let your lips turn up into a slight smile as you allow your Self (identity, form, ego) to surrender, dissolve into this feeling : )
  7. Notice how you are this feeling and this feeling is you, no separation, completely whole
  8. BE-come the love-energy (tingly, energetic, pure love, bliss, kindness, warmth – whole!)
  9. When you are ready to come out from this cosmic bath… bring attention back to the rise and fall of your body with breath, re-invigorate your limbs with prana (life- force, energy)
  10. You are AWAKE! (Maybe, maybe not. It’s all good.)

NOTE: It isn’t supposed to “work” or go smoothly. Notice when tenderness is blocked and when it is flowing freely. It is in the practice of noticing irritations and letting them go that we can see our defences more clearly, and begin to evolve pass them.

Once you are more comfortable with the inward practice of cultivating love you can try sending loving and kind feelings outward…

Towards loved ones, family or friends, towards neutral relationships, strangers (bus drivers, baristas, etc..), towards challenging relationships (enemies full of resentment, anger etc…).

It is the difficult relationships, and the associated feelings that can be seen as the most valuable. These stuck spots of negative energy, can help us see what we need to work on and we can send some extra loving-attention.

Now, outside of our practice, every life encounter becomes an opportunity to practice!

Walking by a couple on Bloor Street? Send them some loving kindness!  Stuck on the TTC? Send the person across from you some good vibes.  Do it, watch it, focus and feel it grow : )

But, let me begin and end by saying – this practice starts with you. If you cannot cultivate the feeling inside you, towards you, for you, with you – the sweet nectar isn’t as rich. The sorrowful disconnection remains. In connecting ourselves to this loving, energetic sea of bliss we can ride the love-river to connect with others and feed all living beings, including ourselves.

LOVE & PEACE

xoxo

See you on the mat,

Lauryn

Lauryn Zuk is a yoga teacher, creative producer and poet. Lauryn is grateful for the opportunity to share the journey inward through movement, in a safe space open to all. She hopes to pass on the peace yoga practice has offered her: the gentle reminder to return home to Pure Love that is always in your heart. Connect with Lauryn on Facebook at Poetree Yoga & Flow Arts or Twitter @LaurynElanZuk

Sign up for Lauryn’s classes at Union.