Small Group Meditation
Each Monday evening 7:00-8:15p | Offered freely | Facilitated by Tarané Sayler
875 4th Steet | San Rafael CA
Join this kindness and well being meditation each Tuesday. It is an evening of silent sitting that begins and ends with a short guided meditation.
“I am larger, better than I thought; I did not know I held so much goodness.” – Walt Whitman
“This meditation uses silent words, images, and feelings to evoke a lovingkindness and friendliness toward oneself and others. With each recitation of the silent phrases, we are expressing an intention, planting the seeds of loving wishes over and over in our heart.
With a loving heart as the background, all that we attempt, all that we encounter will open and flow more easily.”
What is Kindness & Wellbeing Meditation?
Loving-kindness, or metta, as it in called in the Pali language, is unconditional, inclusive love, a love with wisdom. It has no conditions; it does not depend on whether one “deserves” it or not; it is not restricted to friends and family; it extends out from personal categories to include all living beings. There are no expectations of anything in return. This is the ideal, pure love, which everyone has in potential. We begin with loving ourselves, for unless we have a measure of this unconditional love and acceptance for ourselves, it is difficult to extend it to others. Then we include others who are special to us, and, ultimately, all living things. Gradually, both the visualization and the meditation phrases blend into the actual experience, the feeling of loving kindness.
This is a meditation of care, concern, tenderness, loving kindness, friendship–a feeling of warmth for oneself and others. The practice is the softening of the mind and heart, an opening to deeper and deeper levels of the feeling of kindness, of pure love. Loving kindness is without any desire to possess another. It is not a sentimental feeling of goodwill, not an obligation, but comes from a selfless place. It does not depend on relationships, on how the other person feels about us. The process is first one of softening, breaking down barriers that we feel inwardly toward ourselves, and then those that we feel toward others.
18 Science-Based Reasons to Try Loving-Kindness Meditation
1. Increases Positive Emotions & Decreases Negative Emotions In a landmark study, Barbara Frederickson and her colleagues ( Fredrickson, Cohn, Coffey, Pek, & Finkel, 2008) found that practicing 7 weeks of loving-kindness meditation increased love, joy, contentment, gratitude, pride, hope, interest, amusement, and awe. These positive emotions then produced increases in a wide range of personal resources (e.g., increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, decreased illness symptoms), which, in turn, predicted increased life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms.
2. Increases vagal tone which increases positive emotions & feelings of social connection A study by Kok et al (2013)found that individuals in a Loving Kindness Meditation intervention, compared to a control group, had increases in positive emotions, an effect moderated by baseline vagal tone – a physiological marker of well-being.
We don’t usually think of meditation as being able to help us with severe physical or mental ailments, but research shows it can help:
3. Decreases Migraines: A recent study by Tonelli et al (2014) demonstrated the immediate effects of a brief Loving Kindness Meditation intervention in reducing migraine pain and alleviating emotional tension associated with chronic migraines.
4. Decreases Chronic Pain A pilot study of patients with chronic low back pain randomized to Loving Kindness Meditation or standard care, Loving Kindness Meditation was associated with greater decreases in pain, anger, and psychological distress than the control group ( Carson et al., 2005).
5. Decreases PTSD A study by Kearney et al (2013) found that a 12 week Loving Kindness Meditation course significantly reduced depression and PTSD symptoms among veterans diagnosed with PTSD.
6. Decreases Schizophrenia-Spectrum Disorders Also, a pilot study by Johnson et al. (2011) examined the effects of Loving Kindness Meditation with individuals with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. Findings indicated that Loving Kindness Meditation was associated with decreased negative symptoms and increased positive emotions and psychological recovery.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IN THE BRAIN
We know that the brain is shaped by our activities. Regularly practicing loving-kindness meditation activates and strengthens areas of the brain responsible for empathy & emotional intelligence
7. Activates empathy & emotional processing in the brain We showed this link in our research (Hutcherson, Seppala & Gross, 2014) and so have our colleagues (Hoffmann, Grossman & Hinton, 2011)
8. Increases gray matter volume in areas of the brain related to emotion regulation: Leung et al (2013); Lutz et al (2008); Lee et al (2012)
THE STRESS RESPONSE
Loving Kindness Meditation also benefits your psychophysiology & makes it more resilient
9. Increases respiratory Sinus Arrythmia (RSA) Just 10 minutes of loving-kindness meditation has an immediate relaxing effect as evidenced by increased respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), an index of parasympathetic cardiac control (i.e. your ability to enter a relaxing and restorative state), and slowed (i.e. more relaxed) respiration rate (Law, 2011 reference)
10. Slows Aging We know that stress decreases telomere length (telomeres are tiny bits of your genetic materials – chromosomes – that are a biological marker of aging). However, Hoge et al (2013) found that women with experience in Loving Kindness Meditation had relatively longer telomere length compared to age-matched controls! Throw out the expensive anti-aging creams and get on your meditation cushion!
11. Makes you a more helpful person Loving Kindness Meditation appears to enhance positive interpersonal attitudes as well as emotions. For instance, Leiberg, Klimecki and Singer (2011) conducted a study that examined the effects of Loving Kindness Meditation on pro-social behavior, and found that compared to a memory control group, the Loving Kindness Meditation group showed increased helping behavior in a game context.
12. Increases Compassion A recent review of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) concludes that Loving Kindness Meditation may be the most effective practice for increasing compassion (Boellinghaus, Jones & Hutton, 2012)
13. Increases Empathy Similarly, Klimecki, Leiberg, Lamm and Singer (2013) found that Loving Kindness Meditation training increased participants’ empathic responses to the distress of others, but also increased positive affective experiences, even in response to witnessing others in distress.
14. Decreases Your Bias towards others A recent study (Kang, Gray & Dovido, 2014) found that compared to a closely matched active control condition, 6 weeks of Loving Kindness Meditation training decreased implicit bias against minorities.
15. Increases Social Connection A study by Kok et al (2013) found that those participants in Loving Kindness Meditation interventions who report experiencing more positive emotions also reported more gains in perception of social connection as well.
How many of us are slaves to self-criticism or low self-esteem? How many of us do not take as good care as we should of ourselves?
16. Curbs Self-Criticism: A study by Shahar et al (2014) found that Loving Kindness Meditation was effective for self-critical individuals in reducing self-criticism and depressive symptoms, and improving self-compassion and positive emotions. These changes were maintained 3 months post-intervention
IMMEDIATE & LONG-TERM IMPACT
The nice thing about Loving Kindness Meditation is that it is effective in both immediate and small doses (i.e. instant gratification) but that it also has long-lasting and enduring effects.
17. Is Effective Even in Small Doses Our study – Hutcherson, Seppala and Gross (2008) – found an effect of a small dose of Loving Kindness Meditation (practiced in a single short session lasting less than 10 minutes). Compared with a closely matched control task, even just a few minutes of loving-kindness meditation increased feelings of social connection and positivity toward strangers.
18. Has Long-Term Impact. A study by Cohn et al (2011) found that 35% of participants of a Loving Kindness Meditation intervention who continued to meditate and experience enhanced positive emotions 15 months after the intervention. Positive emotions correlated positively with the number of minutes spent meditating daily.