By Dr Phang Cheng Kar (M.D.)
Consultant Psychiatrist & Mindfulness-Based Therapist
The practice of Loving-Kindness, which originates from traditional Metta Meditation, is a positive psychology intervention that involves mentally sending good wishes to all living beings. Scientific studies have shown that the practice gives several benefits: reduce stress and anxiety, decrease chronic pain, better empathy, increase social connectedness, and even improve negative symptoms of schizophrenia. The following is how we can practice Loving-Kindness:
- Sit or lie in a comfortable position. Take a few slow, deep breaths to relax your mind and body. You may hug a pillow to induce safe and relax feeling.
- Put a little smile on your face and in your heart. Imagine your favorite flower blooming in your heart, you’re becoming the flower and smiling joyfully.
- Think of someone whom you care for or grateful to (e.g., your best friend, a relative who is sick, favorite teacher, pet, grandchild). You may close your eyes to help you recall the person more vividly.
- Mentally wish the person safe, healthy, or happy. For examples: “Mr. Tan. I wish you a speedy recovery,” “Anis, all the best in your exam,” “Grandma, may you have long life and happiness,” “Hi Kitty (pet), enjoy your food.”
- Continue to send good wishes to the same person for a few minutes. To enhance the loving feeling, I often sing the ‘Rasa Sayang’ folk song with the following modified lyrics: “Rasa sayang, hey! Rasa sayang sayang, hey! Hey, may I, may you, may all, be happy, Happy, HAPPY.”
- Sometimes, when we’re radiating kind thoughts to different people, it’s helpful to recall how they’ve helped us (to generate grateful feeling), imagine you’re fulfilling their needs, and visualize them smiling happily. The practice enhances positive feelings.
- Repeat the same process (3-6) for someone else. Don’t forget to send positive wishes to ourselves, ‘I wish myself safe, healthy, and happy. May you (referring to myself) love, trust, and appreciate yourself.” Immerse yourself in the self-love feeling.
- Savor all the positive feelings and bodily sensations related to loving-kindness, such as friendliness, compassion, gentleness, warmth, empathy. Let the feelings permeate every part of your mind-body and nourish all your meaningful relationships.
Depending on practicality, you may spend as much time as you wish for the mind training. For a start, I suggest five minutes in the morning and before sleep. Love you.