How to Heal your Relationships with Loving-Kindness Meditation
Resolving conflict is part and parcel of human relationships. And often, it requires us to shift our energy a little.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” — Albert Einstein
Regardless of who was right and who wrong — a matter of opinion in most cases — to resolve a conflict, we need to be able to step into the other's shoes.
But this can be so hard to do when we’re feeling angry, frustrated, or genuinely hard-done-by. First, we need to calm down and tune into our empathy muscles. When I’m in this situation, I turn to the Buddhist practice of Metta Bhavana, also known as Loving Kindness meditation.
‘Metta’ means love, friendliness, or kindness. ‘Bhavana’ means development or cultivation.
The practice works to help us feel more loving towards ourselves and others and it is completely accessible to people new to meditation.
Throughout the process, we bring different people to mind and send them a blessing.
We can do this in one of two ways, or we can combine both:
- Bring to mind all that you admire and appreciate about this person. Fill your heart center with a feeling of love for them, and then radiate that love out to them.
- Holding them in your mind’s eye, silently recite the following (or your own version of it):
May you be well.
May you be happy.
May you be peaceful.
May you be filled with loving-kindness.
There is a recommended sequence in which to call people to mind:
- Start with yourself. It is always best to fill yourself up with your own love before sending it out to others. Some people have difficulty with this, though. If you find that the case, then swap around the first and second stages.
- A person you know well and care for.
- A neutral person with whom you are acquainted but do not know well.
- A person with whom you are experiencing some conflict.
- All beings, everywhere.
This is a beautiful meditation to practice regularly, without needing to be experiencing conflict with anyone.
But when you are in conflict, I do recommend it to help heal rifts. For me, I find that it diffuses my own feelings. Often the other person detects the softness in our consciousness on the psychic level, and they soften in return. This helps us to come together with a kinder attitude towards one another, and from there, to resolve the matter.
But not every conflict needs to be resolved with a coming-back-together. We don’t have to condone or tolerate bad behavior or weaken our boundaries. And sometimes, a permanent separation is what is needed for our highest good.
Even so, we need to find some peace within us.
And here again, sending loving-kindness to the other can help us. We can keep our distance from others while acknowledging their humanity. Everyone has their issues and makes mistakes. But sometimes, we need to draw a line and move on.
It’s just easier to do that when we release the inner turmoil. Of course, that takes time and is unlikely to happen in a single meditation. Regular practice can help dissolve feelings of bitterness over time until we reach a place where we genuinely wish the other person well without needing or wanting them back in our lives.
Students often ask what to do in stage four if they aren’t experiencing any conflicts at that time.
What I suggest — and do myself — is to bring to mind someone that you may be having critical thoughts toward right now, even if you’re not expressing them verbally to the other person.
On an energetic level, there is a conflict taking place. And we can feel when someone is off with us without verbalizing it.
With this meditation, we can soften our energy concerning the other person. Often that can bring insights that shift how we feel about them. And a potential conflict can be avoided by healing on the metaphysical level.
If no such situation is arising for you right now, then maybe look to your past. Is there a conflict there that hasn’t been healed? Again, we can do that in our hearts and minds without needing to bring the other person back into our lives.
We do this for ourselves, for our own healing.
That’s the beauty of Loving-Kindness meditation. While we’re sending peaceful energy toward others, we’re also instilling it in ourselves. And we all need and deserve this.
May we be well.
May we be happy.
May we be peaceful.
May we be filled with loving-kindness.
Previously published on hildacarroll.com