In a time with COVID 19 we are all couped up at home trying to deal with many changes, losses, and emotions. Habits you may be running into include increased craving to sweets, comfort foods, carbohydrates for energy or food in general. Maybe you are hoarding a bit, may you are scared. Know your feelings are valid. Human beings are programmed to survive and to feel safe. This may mean eating more to store energy or focusing on ourselves and family members first. When we feel overwhelmed or a lack of control, food can often be a coping mechanism.
Loving-kindness meditation is a special type of meditation that helps to cultivate unconditional kind attitudes toward oneself and others. Research shows that Loving-Kindness Meditation has tremendous benefits from greater well-being to providing relief from illness, self -criticism and improving compassion, empathy, social connection and emotional intelligence, especially in times of isolation.
This meditation is especially important for front line workers who are feeling tired, overwhelmed and stressed. They have shared much of their energy and may need time to reset their nervous system. Share this meditation to anyone in need. Others who may also benefit are people with current chronic pain who are not able to seek supports during this time of isolation.
There are three main ways the meditation improves mental health:
1. Increasing self-love
2. Experiencing heightened meaning in life
3. Reducing habits of avoiding thoughts and emotions that are unpleasant
The practice involves generating one’s kind intentions toward certain targets. The targets change gradually with practice, following an order from easy to difficult. It generally begins with oneself, then loved ones, neutral ones, difficult ones and finally all beings, with variations across traditions.
Phrases of affirmations completed in silence includes:
– “may you be happy”
– “may you be at peace”
– “may you be free from suffering”
Start with a small daily commitment to Loving Kindness meditation.
– 5 – 10 minutes a day may be simple enough to help with habit changes.
Try this 8 minutes guided meditation here:
Z Xianglong, C. Cleo P. K., W Rong, O. Tian P. S., L Freedom Y. K. The effect of loving-kindness meditation on positive emotions: a meta-analytic review. Frontiers in Psychology VOL6 :1693 (2015). Accessed: https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.0169