Alternate Activity 2: Meditation on Loving Kindness
Activity time: 10 minutes
Description of Activity
In this activity participants use a traditional Buddhist meditation technique called the Metta meditation, Meditation on Loving Kindness.
Explain that participants will consider love from a Buddhist perspective. Explain that for practicing Buddhists, this meditation has different meanings than for those who are not Buddhist. We are not "pretending" to be Buddhist in this activity - we are using tools from the Buddhist tradition to help us explore love from our Unitarian Universalist perspective.
Tell them that a common meditation technique is called the Metta meditation or Meditation on Loving Kindness. It is a meditation that has its roots in the Pali Canon, which is an important book in Buddhism.
Ask participants to find a comfortable place to sit, such as a chair or on the floor. Read the following:
As you settle down, close your eyes and slow your breathing. Take slow and deliberate breaths. Be conscious of the air traveling in and out of your nose. Bring your focus to that space just at the boundary of your nose and outside of your body. Feel the air move in and out as you breathe. If you lose concentration on that spot, that is okay. Just calmly bring your attention back. [pause for the count of 20]
Now, bring your thoughts to a time when you felt really good about yourself. You were in a place you felt safe, you were happy and life was good. It should be a time when you felt love and kindness for yourself. What did that feel like? How did it feel in your head, your heart, your arms, your legs? Cultivate that feeling. Be in that feeling. Let it spread all over yourself. [pause for a count of 10]
Imagine this feeling as energy radiating out from you. As you do so, picture someone who is close to you. Not a romantic partner or a person of romantic interest, but just a good friend. Let the energy of your loving kindness radiate out to this good friend of yours. [pause for a count of 10]
Continue to imagine this feeling radiating out from your body. Now imagine someone with whom you have no relationship. Maybe someone you pass at the bus stop or in the hallway but never talk to. Let the energy of your loving kindness radiate out to this person. [pause for a count of 10]
Continue to imagine this feeling as energy moving out of your body. Now think of someone with whom you have a difficult relationship. Not your worst enemy, but someone with whom you are out of sorts with right now. Let the energy of your loving kindness radiate out to this person. [pause for a count of 10]
Now imagine this energy encompassing all four of you. Feel it wrapping around yourself, your friend, the stranger, and the person who is giving you difficulty. Imagine that it is feeding you all with positive warmth and strength. [pause for a count of 10]
See this energy pulsing around all four of you and watch it slowly, ever so slowly, pulse out over the room you are in right now. And then slowly out to the surrounding neighborhood, then to the city, and then the state. Feel it pulse out over the whole country and then around the whole globe. Finally feel it pulse out to the entire universe. Sit in this moment. [pause for a count of 30]
Ever so slowly and quietly return to your body and when you are ready open your eyes.
Invite participants to just sit with their feelings for a moment. If anyone would like to share their experience, create the space for them to do so. Tell participants that this meditation is something they can practice at any time or place when they feel the need to reconnect with the spirit of love.