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Yoga and Loving Kindness

Yoga and Loving Kindness

Loving kindness is a concept that comes from the Buddha and is meant for the benefit of all sentient beings. It is a central pillar to our relating with people and helps to make things run smoothly.

Loving kindness means being caring and considerate to all beings and we do this so often when we try in many ways to share love, understanding and our feelings with others.

Since we often do yoga with others it is good for us to include being loving and considerate in our practice and in our dealings with all people.

Yoga Loves Kindness

Yoga is about gaining balance and control in our life and trying to overcome the limitations of the body. It gets us to slow down, move and breath in our postures, and center our minds to focus on the now. It gets us out of our head and into what’s more meaningful in our lives.

The purpose of yoga is to cultivate discernment, awareness, self-regulation and higher consciousness in ourselves. In yoga we don’t want to just do the exercises but to get into a higher consciousness and loving kindness is a great way to focus our minds.

What Is Loving Kindness?

As we have mentioned loving kindness is a term from the Buddha and it comes from the Pali language.

Metta (Loving kindness) is a benevolence toward all beings that is free from any selfish attachment. It is the quality of mind and heart in which we wish for others to be happy.

One famous Monk defines Metta as “goodwill”, saying it is primarily about wishing well for others.

It also gets translated as “gentle friendliness” or “boundless friendliness” because it is about the kindness we think, feel and share with others in our private lives, daily lives and also at our yoga sessions.

When we say that we wish for other to be happy it doesn’t mean that we are responsible for their happiness but that we wish for them to find happiness and do what needs to be done to get it.

Loving kindness is a practice worth integrating into both our meditation practice and daily lives. It is said that by practicing metta, a Buddhist overcomes anger, ill will, hatred, and aversion.

Yoga and Focusing

In the famous Yoga Sutras, the Sage Patanjali describes yoga as “the progressive quieting of the fluctuations of the mind.” He goes on to list the eight limbs that should be included for a good whole yoga practice.

He says that through dedicated practice of these eight limbs and of detachment, we can stop identifying with the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that cause us so much emotional pain and difficulty. As the eight limbs explain this will lead us to Samadhi.

He claims this is the source of all energy and creativity in life and that yoga encourages us to go deeper into our being and find the inner place that is beyond the limitations of the world.

Patanjali is on a good track and goes well with the teachings of the Buddha.

The Buddha and Loving Kindness

The Buddha is the originator of loving kindness (Metta) and it is written down for all people to see and have available.

One offering of this Metta is The Metta Prayer:

Metta Prayer – Loving Kindness Prayer

May all beings be happy, healthy and whole.
May they have love, warmth, and affection.
May they be protected from harm, and free from fear.
May they be alive, engaged and joyful.
May “all beings” enjoy inner peace and ease.
May that peace expand into their world and throughout the entire universe.

This offering is found in the Buddhist tradition, but there are other versions of it found in many spiritual traditions, including Celtic Christianity and Judaism.

The prayer starts by the reciter wishing himself well-being and then slowly extends that wish to others, before offering it universally to all beings everywhere.

This prayer can be used as a Loving Kindness Meditation where we simply repeat the lines to ourself over and over again and contemplate the well-being of all.

In Buddhist belief, this takes us to a Brahma-vihara (divine abode) or one of the “Immeasurables” and leads to a meditative state by being a counter to ill-will. It removes any clinging to a negative state of mind and aids us in cultivating kindness unto all beings.

As we have said in the Buddhist scripture loving kindness is called Metta, and it is a Pali word, which means loving kindness, and it is one of the “Four Immeasurables” or the Four Divine States of Buddhism. In the Buddhism Metta is considered great!

Yogic Meditation

When we wish good for others and share kindness it takes us away from the mundane and breathes a fresh consciousness into our experience.

In order to raise our consciousness and imbibe the nectar of the Supreme Goodness the best method is meditation.

This enables us to temporarily escape the ways of the world and get the fresh taste of what waits for us inside ourselves.

So much of our impressions and what the mind thinks are either memories or desires. What we see and think leaves us with impressions and impressions give rise to desires. Whether it’s an ad for a new suit, thoughts of a vacation or the box of candy we just bought these all form impressions which so often lead to desires. The next thing would be a call for action and then we start to get too much to do.

To get a break from this cycle of impressions, desires and memories we can meditate to take our mind off of the “thought stuff.” There are many types of meditation and so many of them can help us to get into the zone.

Yoga and OM

In the yogic tradition, meditation often uses the aid of a mantra, which is a primordial sound. The word mantra means instrument or vehicle of the mind. This is the repetition of a sacred syllable.

The mantra is used to center your mind and give you something to focus on as you meditate. Usually the mantra is a pleasant sound and it is both soothing and agreeable to be present with. It can be your friend as it takes you to higher awareness, away from the busy world and more in tune with your self.

The best-known mantra is the sound Aum or Om, which is the sound of the vibration of the universe in all its being/existence.

Chanting or reciting this wonderful mantra sound can tune you into higher consciousness and put you in a realm of peace, which is actually the goal of meditation.

The constant repetition of the mantra has a toning effect which can create a healing vibe that puts you in touch with your very life-force.

It is also good to say the Om mantra and think of loving kindness. You might want to repeat the mantra and at the same time reflect on the Loving Kindness Prayer. This can help you find harmony for yourself and branch to a harmony with others and all people that you include in your meditation.

The Prayer says:

May all beings be happy hearted!

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2 thoughts on “Yoga and Loving Kindness

  1. Great article again Tom….I am going to share with friends.

    Really like it man how you pay homage to the origins of these practices.

    The world needs more kindness and love. In this fast paced world people only care of themselves. It’s sad.

    Like the OM mantra also!

    Ravi

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    1. Author

      Loving Kindness is a super topic and fits good with yoga. Like you say Ravi we all need more of this in our lives and it’s good to spread it so there’s a lot around.

      The practices are ancient and offer us a glimpse of something bigger than what we see around us immediately. I hope you find a use for the good OM meditations.

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