In Pali language or a language that is closely related to Old Indo-Aryan Vedic and Sanskrit dialects, the term “Metta” means the benevolence, goodwill, and growth and development of unconditional love for every being. Metta meditation is practiced primarily for cultivating love and kindness towards all beings, maybe family, friends, animals, or maybe yourself. Let us take a deeper look at the health benefits of metta meditation and how to do it?
What is Metta Meditation?
Metta meditation is a practice of loving-kindness meditation and it is a type of Buddhist meditation. The main aim of Metta meditation is to cultivate kindness for all beings. It is also about learning ways to manage social anxiety, reduce negative emotion, learning forgiveness, and spreading kindness in the world.
The primary technique of metta meditation involves reciting positive phrases for all beings including the self. This type of meditation has been in use for thousands of years. Some examples of metta meditation phrases are:
- “May I be satisfied. May I be healthy.”
- “May you be brave, bold, and confident.”
- “May I be safe, strong, peaceful, and free from any sort of suffering.”
Like other types of meditation, metta meditation is important for emotional, mental, and physical health. This meditation helps in reducing negative emotions towards other beings and yourself.
12 Amazing Health Benefits of Metta Meditation
Regular practice of metta meditation can be essential for both, your body and mind. Here below are some of the health benefits of Metta meditation.
It Promotes Self-Compassion:
Since this type of meditation involves reciting various kinds of phrases towards yourself, it can promote a sense of self-compassion. The idea behind this is that one must love oneself before they can love other beings.
Self-compassion can also decrease negative emotions towards oneself, including self-doubt, unworthiness, anger, judgment, self-criticism.
A small study of 2014 has observed these benefits of Metta meditation.(1) Participants in the study who practiced metta meditation became less critical toward themselves as compared to those who did not practice this meditation.
One more study of 2013 has found that routine metta meditation when done strictly, had an ability to increase self-compassion and mindfulness in patients having PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder.(2) These effects helped in reducing symptoms of PTSD.
It Relaxes Muscle Weakness:
A study relates Metta meditation with progressive muscle relaxation. The study states that when someone does this loving-kindness meditation, all negative emotions, repetitive thoughts, and stress gets reduced or turns absolutely nil. When there is no negative thought, their muscles relax and, cognitive flexibility gets improved.
Reduces Stress And Anxiety:
As per the research from the year 2013, mindfulness meditation can reduce symptoms of anxiety quite significantly.(3)
In addition to this, clinical evidence has shown that when mindfulness meditation is regularly practiced, can also reduce the inflammation response caused by stress.(4)
Metta meditation can be even more helpful in this. As a person develop self-compassion, they perceive oneself in a more positive light. This, in turn, promotes emotions, such as gratitude and love. Such emotions can improve the level of one’s satisfaction in life, and thus reduce stress and anxiety. There is evidence that Metta meditation can reduce certain types of physical pain.
In a study of 2005, the practice of Metta meditation decreased persistent lower back pain.(5) A study of 2014 has found a similar effect in patients with frequent migraine attacks.(6)
Negative emotions and emotional stress can reduce your pain tolerance. Positive emotions, that are built up through the Metta meditation have the opposite effect.
Metta Meditation Helps You To Sleep Well:
Sleep disturbances are a major concern that is prevalent in older and adult people. It has been found from a study that, being engaged in mindfulness exercises like Metta meditation at least for 10-30 minutes aids in reducing sleep issues like stress and thus offering better sleep to a person.(7)
It Helps In Reducing Migraine Pain:
It has been shown from a study that 20 minutes of guided Metta meditation aids in reducing about 43% of emotional tension and 33% of attenuating pain. We must also mention that frequent migraine pain is linked with emotional tensions, irritation, anxiety, and worry. Metta meditation counteracts such emotions and helps in reducing migraine pains.(8)
Metta Meditation Helps To Control And Manage Anger:
A study has shown that metta meditation has a powerful strategy to deal with many psychological problems, including anger issues. This type of meditation offers a person with the exclusive art of patience, empathy, tolerance, and forgiveness. Developing such emotions make a person respond well towards negative emotion like anger and help in controlling it.(9)
It Promotes Physical Health:
Metta meditation is a type of meditation that shows a positive effect on one’s physical health. This type of mindfulness meditation technique helps in connecting the mind and body, which in turn impacts a person’s health and diseases.
One study shows that metta meditation reduces heart-related problems or diseases, reverses molecular reactions that result in chronic stress, enhances mitochondrial metabolism, and risks of many other diseases, and thus improving good physical health.(10)
It Helps PTSD Or Other Traumas:
Metta meditation is also known to have some other health benefits. One of them is that it helps PTSD or other traumas.
A study conducted on people with PTSD has shown that performing 12-weeks of this type of meditation aids in bringing positive emotions, compassion, and kindness towards oneself and others which in turn benefits in reducing PTSD symptoms, depression, and some other traumas.(11)
Metta Meditation Develops Compassion:
Metta meditation gets a deep spiritual transformation. This in turn builds compassion for others to understand their pain and show them care and support in their ups and downs.
Metta meditation aids in developing deep sympathy, and qualities of right speech and actions. Such techniques help to ease other’s suffering and offer them wisdom by leading them to a greater path of awareness.
Metta Meditation Reduces Inflammation:
The positivity that cultivates via a regular practice of metta meditation helps to reduce inflammation and other physical health issues. This type of meditation not only offers mental satisfaction but also improves immunity. This helps in reducing inflammatory symptoms by increasing cytokines in the blood, known to help combat inflammatory response and also reduce them.(12)
Metta Meditation Improves Social Connection:
Metta meditation is also known to nurture stronger social connections. You start extending kindness to other people when you start reciting the positive phrases. This allows you to display compassion and love and empathy towards others.
Metta meditation also encourages you to think about others and help you recognize how they make you feel.
Metta Meditation Improves Longevity:
One of the best health benefits of metta meditation is that it improves longevity. Telomeres are DNA structures present at the ends of each chromosome. These telomeres work in protecting genetic information.
As one gets older, the telemere shorten naturally. Chronic stress can speed up this shortening process of the telomere, thus causing rapid biological aging. So, stress-relieving activities, such as metta meditation, can help to ease this effect of shortening of telomeres.
A small study conducted in the year 2013 has found that Metta meditation is linked with a longer length of the telomere.(13) The researchers speculated that this practice of metta meditation could help in improving longevity.
There are also a lot of studies that talk about the positive impact of this type of meditation on brain aging. Longer life expectancy in humans has progressively decreased because of multiple diseases, which include age-related disorders. Metta meditation aids in maintaining the proper functioning of brain tissues and in reducing the risk of dementia and other age-related diseases. Metta meditation also helps in preserving cognitive and emotional functions that help a person to live a healthier and longer life.(14)
How To Do Metta Meditation?
Now that we are aware of some of the best health benefits of metta meditation, it is the right time to start this technique of meditation. So, here we will be talking about how to do metta meditation?
You do not require any special equipment to start metta meditation. You can do it anywhere in a quiet corner of your house, your lawn, or even at your desk. Simply choose a spot where you get the least distractions and follow the steps that are mentioned below.
Step 1: Sit in a comfortable posture and keep your eye closed. Slowly take a slow and deep breath in through your nose and keep breathing deeply.
Step 2: Make sure you focus on your breathing. Imagine each of your breath travelling via your body. Apart from this, focus on your heart.
Step 3: You can choose a positive phrase and recite it silently, directing it towards yourself. Your phrases could be like, “May I have peace in my mind, May I be safe, strong and happy.”
Step 4: Slowly repeat the phrase and acknowledge the meaning of your phrase and also how it makes you feel. Stop judging yourself if you get distracted in between and simply return to your phrase.
Step 5: Now, think about your family and friends and recite the phrases towards them. You can think about one single person you love or for a group of people you care about. The phrases could be something like, “May you be safe, happy and peaceful.” While reciting the phases, recognize them and know how you feel for them.
Step 6: Now, continue reciting the phrases towards others, like your neighbors, or anyone you know, or anyone in difficult situations. Recognize your emotions. Repeat these phrases until you start experiencing compassionate and positive feelings.
Metta meditation involves the recitation of positive phrases towards yourself and others. This meditation practice intends to foster a mental state of love, kindness, and compassion. This meditation technique when done regularly, can help to minimize negative emotions towards oneself and others. It can also reduce stress and physical pain as we mentioned earlier.
If you are willing to try metta meditation, make sure to be patient and open enough to experience the bliss. Practice a few minutes every day and experience the difference over time.
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