Exploring the Prayerful Nature of Loving Kindness Meditation
Five years ago, I signed up for an 18-month spirituality course, the Kivvun program offered by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. The course had four main components:
- 1 Yoga (check—already doing it)
- 2 Meditation (check—big practice already)
- 3 Text Study (check, check—love it and been doing it for years)
- 4 Prayer ( nope—hate it and don’t do it)
At one particular retreat during the course of the program, when it came time for the prayer service, I would sit in the back of the sanctuary and find myself crying sheets upon sheets of tears. An emotional floodgate opened in me, unleashing all the sorrow and pain I had been carrying around after six very difficult years of parenting. This was a complete shock to me, as I am not quick to cry in everyday life.
Shortly after the retreat, I was, as I often do, putting my heart and soul into saying loving kindness phrases during meditation. It was then I realized that I was praying—praying really hard. I have been praying for the last five years and never admitted it to myself!
May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you live with ease.
If that’s not a prayer, what is?
Whether these techniques qualify as prayers and connect us to a universal force is an open question and you can answer it as you see fit. The one thing I know for sure is that they work—big time.
Mindfulness meditation and self-compassion practices, allow me to stay balanced. It’s true that you need to practice every day so that you’ll have the tools ready when you need them. But it’s worth it. Being able to flip into a practice that helps calm the chaos in my mind and body is priceless. Imagine a huge storm of emotion, with high winds buffeting you to and fro, then imagine being protected under an umbrella of calm. Under this umbrella, made from the fabric of your mindfulness meditation and compassion practice, the air is light, still and balanced. I wish all humans could develop these skills and live with less suffering.
May you live with ease!