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Lovingkindness Meditation

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Using body awareness

Ways of cultivating metta

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The way you hold your body has a huge effect on the way you experience emotion. When you’re depressed, your chest sinks in, your shoulders slump, you don’t stand up straight, and your chin tries to move towards your chest. The flow of your breath is restricted and your body and brain cannot function effectively.

When your posture is like this it’s virtually impossible to be anything but depressed, and when you’re in this depressed, slumped, hopeless state, then it’s very hard to feel good about yourself.

Conversely, when you hold your body erect (but relaxed), with your chest out and your shoulders back, and your head held high, then it’s much easier to feel good about yourself. It’s much easier to feel strong, and confident, and capable, and in fact it’s hard not to feel confidence when you hold the body in this way. The breath is able to flow freely and the body seems to be alive with energy.

In a way our bodies have memories. If you remembering a time you felt great and recall exactly how you held your body when you felt that way you’ll find it easier to access the emotional positivity you experienced in the past. So if you use kinesthetic memories of a time when you felt good to help you cultivate metta then don’t just remember images — recall how you held your body and how your body felt at that time.

In this simple way you can encourage a more positive state of mind at any time.

Comments

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Comment from Lilias
Time: March 17, 2014, 8:57 am

Just over the weekend I have learned more about where a trauma lay in my body, my upper back muscles were tight and painful and I felt as if I had been stabbed between the shoulder blades, This all had to do with being a young teenager and my Mother.s betrayal of me in away of being total rejection she had me sent away and my father did notjhing to stop her. hense grief, it happened in the Easter / Lent period.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: March 17, 2014, 12:53 pm

It’s very useful to be able to locate a painful feeling in the body in the way that you have. It’ll make practicing self-compassion much easier (see the article I just posted a link to in reply to your earlier comment).

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