• Sara Mann

Coping Skill: Loving-Kindness Meditation.


This past week I went through something that was very traumatic. I was scammed, terrorized and robbed. It was incredibly frightening, stressful and exhausting. Traumatic events are typically when my eating disorder decides to slowly creep in and take over. In fact, trauma is often the main source and fuel to eating disorders. When I think of trauma or traumatic events I typically think of people who fight in a war, or of really terrible things like being robbed or raped or near death experiences. The truth is, trauma doesn’t have to always be these things. The definition of a trauma is, “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. or an emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury, which may be associated with physical shock and sometimes leads to long-term neurosis.” (1) So trauma is simply a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Some synonyms for trauma are, shock, distress, stress, pain, anguish, suffering, grief and heartache. We don’t have to be at the front of war to experience trauma. Many of us have experienced trauma in our every day lives. It’s being robbed, losing a family member, going through a parents divorce, being in a volatile/difficult relationship, getting fired from a job we love or experiencing infertility. In my opinion, all of these can be deeply distressing experiences.

As I’ve gone through recovery and worked closely with a therapist I have had to do some trauma work. This is where we go back through some life experiences (traumas) that brought about anxiety, heartbreak , stress, pain and ultimately my eating disorder do cope with them. What I’ve found is that it is crucial to learn how to cope with trauma, and even to be able to talk about trauma in ways that are healthy and good, instead of with control and an eating disorder. More recently, as I was doing trauma work with my therapist, she taught me a loving-kindness meditation. The purpose of this meditation is just to sit back and clear out some of the bad and bring in some love and kindness! I’ll share the meditation and then write some thoughts about what it was like the first few times I did it and things that came up!

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LOVING-KINDNESS MEDITATION

Body Position

Close your eyes. Sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor and your spine straight. Relax your whole body. Keep your eyes close throughout the whole visualization and bring your awareness inward. Without straining or concentrating, just relax and gently follow the instructions.

Take a deep breath in. And breathe out.

Receiving Loving-Kindness

Keeping your eyes closed, think of a person close you who loves you very much. I could be someone from the past or the present; someone still in life or who has passed; it could be a spiritual teacher or guide. Imagine that person standing o your right side, sending you their love. That person is sending you wishes for your safety, for your well-being and happiness.

Feel the warm wishes and love coming from that person towards you.

Now bring to mind the same person or another person who cherishes you deeply. Imagine that person standing on your left side, sending you wishes for your wellness, for your health and happiness. Feel the kindness and warmth coming to you from that person. Now imagine that you are surrounded on all sides by all the people who love you and have loved you. Picture all of your friends and loved ones surrounding you. They are standing sending you wishes for your happiness, well-being, and health. Bask in the warm wishes and love coming form all sides. You are filled, and overflowing with warmth and love.

Sending Loving-Kindness to Loved Ones

Now bring your awareness back to the person standing on your right side. Begin to send the love that you feel back to that person. You and this person are similar. Just like you, ,this person wishes to be happy. Send all your love and warm wishes to that person.

Repeat the following phrases, silently:

May you live with ease, may you be happy, may you be free from pain.

May you live with ease, may you be happy, may you be free from pain.

May you live with ease, may you be happy, may you be free from pain.

Now focus your awareness on the person standing on your left side. Begin to direct the love within you to that person. Send all your love and warmth to that person. That person and you are alike. Just like you, that person wishes to have a good life.

repeat the following phrases, silently:

Just as I wish to, may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you live with ease and happiness.

Just as I wish to, may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you live with ease and happiness.

Just as I wish to, may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you live with ease and happiness.

Now picture another person that you love, perhaps a relative or a friend. This person, like you, wishes to have a happy life. Send warm wishes to that person.

Repeat the following phrases, silently:

May your life be filled with happiness, health and well-being.

May your life be filled with happiness, health and well-being.

May your life be filled with happiness, health and well-being.

Sending Loving-Kindness to Neutral People

Now think of an acquaintance, someone you don’t know very well and toward whom you do not have any particular feeling. You and this person are alike in your wish to have a good life. Send all your wishes for well-being to that person, repeating the following phrases, silently:

Just as I wish to, may you also live with ease and happiness.

Just as I wish to, may you also live with ease and happiness.

Just as I wish to, may you also live with ease and happiness.

Now bring to mind another acquaintance toward home you feel neutral. It could be a neighbor, or a colleague, or someone else that you see around but do not know very well. Like you, this person wishes to experience joy and well-being in his or her life.

Send all your good wishes to that person, repeating the following phrases, silently:

May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be free from all pain.

May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be free from all pain.

May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be free from all pain.

Sending Loving-Kindness to All Living Beings

Now expand your awareness and picture the whole glove in front of you as a little ball.

Send warm wishes to all living beings on the globe, who, like you, want to be happy:

Just as I wish to, may you live with ease, happiness and good health.

Just as I wish to, may you live with ease, happiness and good health.

Just as I wish to, may you live with ease, happiness and good health.

Take a deep breath in. And breathe out. And another deep breath in and let it go. Notice the state of your mind and how you feel after this meditation.

When you are ready, you may open your eyes.

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So, that is basically the Loving-Kindness Meditation. There are many forms of it out there, so if you google it you will find lots of different versions so definitely check them out if you want to change it up a little bit!

There are two additions that I like to make to this meditation, and they are to include sending loving-kindness to myself as well as sending loving-kindness to someone I have ill feelings towards. Sending loving-kindness to myself is an act of self love and self compassion. There are moments where it is ok to sit down a instead of having negative talk, I wish myself good health, happiness and the ability to live with ease. It allows me to feel that I do still have love and kindness for myself instead of just hatred and negative self talk as I recover.

I also like to extend the loving-kindness to those I feel angry or hate towards. Basically, if I am having feelings of hatred towards anyone it is important that I practice this. It helps me to forgive and to love others in the sacrificial way that I am taught to love. The men that robbed me. I hate them. I also will include them in my meditation and send them good health. It is HARD to do, but it isn’t about them, it’s about easing the hate in my heart and the trauma and pain I am feeling.

One thing that I want to talk about is how meditation fits in with my faith. As a person of faith I use to think that meditation was something weird or wrong. I’ve learned that it is actually a really useful tool to use along with prayer and scripture. Sometimes I replace the well wishes with scripture. A great one is Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The whole point of the meditation is to slow down and focus our thoughts on kindness and love instead of trauma and negativity. It is to put out something better then the stress that we are feeling in that moment. It is to renew and reframe our thoughts into something more positive and up-lifting. There is nothing sinful or wrong about doing this.

When I began practicing this meditation I actually found it kind of difficult. I found it hard to send loving-kindness to people when I didn’t feel this way even about myself. I don’t feel like I receive much loving-kindness from people in general, so it’s counter intuitive to give something that I rarely get. When I had to think of the people that loved me, if I’m being honest, I had a REALLY hard time doing this. I could only come up with two to maybe a handful of people that I felt I could receive genuine love from in this way. I started judging myself and feeling bad for myself. Which defeats the whole purpose of the meditation! I had to realize that there is no perfect way to do this. No perfect amount of people that love me or that I love. When I find it hard to think of someone, I can simply put my Savior in there and start there. As I continue on I feel more at peace and the loving-kindness that I am wishing others soon takes over my own thoughts and feelings.

This meditation is not going to fix all our problems. It doesn’t make everything sunshine and rainbows or make it all better, but it does help to calm us down and bring love and kindness into negativity. It reminds me that even though there is sin and evil constantly trying to derail my peace, I can cope with it in more positive ways then restriction or over exercise or negative thoughts. I can use this coping skill to love and be kind to myself as well as others!

So to you, my reader….

Just as I wish to, may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you live with ease and happiness and may you be free from all pain, and may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!

xoxo

- Sara -

© 2017 by Sara Mann. Proudly created with Wix.com

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