Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude.

February Valentine’s Day Reader’s Challenge of the Month

Posted February 14th, 2012 by Linda with No Comments

So how did everyone do with last month’s yoga pose challenge? We joined Yoga Journal’s 21-day Challenge and I can definitely say that I learned a new pose or six! It also included adding vegetarian meals and meditating daily, which leads us to the focus of our challenge this month – meditation.

This being the month associated with love, we’re going to introduce you to metta bhavana, or loving-kindness meditation, perfect for Valentine’s Day. Meditation is a way to extend your thoughts and focus a little more deeply. We are going to extend this day-by-day until you can do the entire meditation.

In order to truly benefit from meditation, your body must be as relaxed as possible. Either sit or lie in a comfortable position and focus on your breath for about 30 seconds. Starting with your feet, tense the muscles for five seconds and then release, counting to ten. Continue upward – calves, thighs, glutes, stomach, chest, hands, arms, and finally face.

Now that you’re feeling less tense, it’s time to begin the first day of meditation focusing on self-love. Find a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down and begin to focus on your breath, specifically from your chest, or your “heart center.” Breath slowly, through the nose. Start by thinking kind and loving thoughts about yourself. Let go of all of the negativity and judgement you have towards yourself and focus on the feeling of loving yourself. When you feel the warmth and love throughout your body, recite these words, either in your head or aloud:

May I be well
May I be healthy
May I be strong
May I be happy
May I be at peace
May I feel loved

Come back to your breath. Breathe in slowly through the nose, breathe out through the mouth. Feel the love you’ve given to yourself radiating out to the world. Shift your focus away from your breath and feel yourself back in the present moment. When you are ready, open your eyes.

The second day of the meditation will begin exactly like the first, with the love of yourself. Once you’ve come back to focus on your breath, think of someone you admire or respect, like a teacher or someone who’s had a positive effect on you. Envision sharing the warmth and love you feel with that person. Then, repeat the mantra again, picturing that person.

May you be well
May you be healthy
May you be strong
May you be happy
May you be at peace
May you feel loved

Come back to the breath again to complete the meditation.

For the third and subsequent days, you’ll continue this pattern, adding one new focus each day:

Day Three: Someone you easily love – a dear friend, family member, even a pet

Day Four: An acquaintance – someone you don’t know very well personally, someone relatively neutral

Day Five: A person or a group you have difficulty with, who makes you upset or angry – this may be a more difficult one to feel the love for, but this is a good way to “turn the other cheek” and give yourself a positive mindset

Day Six: All living things – radiate the loving feeling to everyone and everything

This meditation is not about “getting through it.” Truly envision the love you are trying to send out into the world. If you are having difficulty, go back a day or even to the beginning. Make the feeling of warmth and love the focus of your meditative time.

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