Altogether now, sing it with me: “All you need is love” do-be-do-be-dooo “all you need is love” do-be-do-be-dooo, “all you need is love, love… Love is all you need.”
I love that song and am exposing my inner hippy today. The sentiment in the classic Beatles song is wonderful and considered so by millions around the world. Yet how do you actually apply the sentiment and bring it into the real world?
Well that is what I am sharing here today, and I feel that it is needed more than ever. The loving-kindness meditation technique is not just about us donning paisley shirts unbuttoned to the naval, tie-dye flares and walking barefoot all day.
It is a scientifically proven method of meditation which involves you directing and projecting love and kindness toward yourself, other people and the rest of the world.
What’s more, it is a process that can and does help alleviate stress. In a PhD dissertation study carried out at the University of Arizona the author discovered that the loving-kindness meditation can help ease social anxiety stress.
A 2013 study also showed that veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder reduced symptoms by following a 12 week programme of loving-kindness meditation. Certainly I have found and those who I have learned from have spoken of how much easier it is to let go of stress when you engage in loving-kindness practice regularly.
If you then go and search the vaults at Google Scholar or at PubMed and search for credible research on loving-kindness meditation, you’ll discover that research shows it can reduce pain, increase social connectedness, build positive emotions and cultivates self-compassion among other things. It helps to calm the mind and in turn helps us to be more solution focused and effective in life. Importantly, we become more humane, let me explain this with the help of Neale Donald Walsch.
On Facebook this week, the writer and “modern day spiritual messenger” Neale Donald Walsche wrote the following:
We have a candidate for president of the United States who says of a protestor at one of his campaign events, “I’d like to punch him in the face.”
We have a candidate for president who says of protestors at his events, “I love the old days — you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”
We have a candidate for president of the United States who told one of his audiences, “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”
Is there any hope? Are we really nothing more than a species of sentient beings run amok, blowing up H-bombs under the ground to prove our invincibility, ending criminals’ lives by injection to demonstrate our righteousness, allowing hundreds of children to die of starvation every hour as we defend a global economy that benefits one-tenth of the planet’s population?
Have we so lost our collective mind as to think that the way to stop gun violence is for everybody in the world to carry a gun?
Have we so lost our collective will as to find no way to stop the wars that create refugee crises rendering millions homeless?
Have we so lost our collective morals as to find it actually preferable for divisiveness, rudeness, insults and tasteless verbal bullying to become the hallmark of political leadership?
Is this what we have come to? Gun-toting, fist-pumping, verbal-bashing, jaw-jutting, loud-mouthed intimidators and strong-armed tyrants daring anyone to stand up for what is gentle, peaceful, and—God forbid—loving?
Just asking here.
I am based in the UK and do not know the finer details of what is happening in Walsh’s USA, it is not the specifics that he refers to that I refer to, but the general theme. I do know and agree that we all find ourselves at a point in time where aggression and violence are used to make points (physically, verbally, emotionally and through insinuation). A time where vitriol, bitterness and anger often fuel communication. The practice of loving kindness therefore becomes an excellent tool for restoring humanity and kindness when exposed to much of what the modern world challenges us with.
You regular readers know that my love for self-hypnosis extends beyond the books I have written, my ongoing research and my professional work. I use it to help me run better, to build self-efficacy and to enhance much of what I learn in other fields. Today then, I wanted to show you how to use self-hypnosis to enjoy the benefits of loving kindness. Follow these simple steps:
Step One: Induce Hypnosis.
You can do so by any means you desire or know of. You can use the process in my Science of self-hypnosis book, use the free audio we give away on this website to practice or have a look at the following articles as and when you need them; they are basic processes to help you simply open the door of your mind:
Heavy Arm Self-Hypnosis Induction Method
Using Eye Fixation for Self-Hypnosis
The Chiasson Self-Hypnosis Method
Hand to Face Self-Hypnosis Induction
Using Magnetic Hands for Self-Hypnosis
The Coin Drop Self-Hypnosis Induction
Once you have induced hypnosis, move on to step two.
Step Two: This process is advanced greatly by being relaxed in body and mind. Therefore, as a means of deepening your self-hypnosis, deepen your relaxation.
The aim here is to spread relaxation into various parts of your body. As you get better at doing this, you can start to focus on more specific and smaller parts of the body, something referred to by hypnotherapists and fractionation. Here are some ideas of how to do this:
a) Use your internal dialogue and simply tell yourself that each part of your body is relaxing. For example “my toes are relaxing deeper… and now my ankles… moving into my lower legs…” and so on.
Likewise, you may use an affirmation or repeat a mantra; “I am more and more peaceful, calm and relaxed” or “I let go of thoughts/feelings/emotions which do not serve to advance my relaxation” or “I accept myself with love.”
b) As you work your way through your body, you may like to use a colour or light or imagined warming sensation and spread that through the muscles and imagine the colour (ideally one you associate with relaxing) spreading through the muscles as you reach each part of your body.
c) Additional cognitions. Richard Bandler uses the word “soften” as he relaxes parts of the body. He focuses on each muscle and then says “soften” as he works through, you might like to do the same.
d) You may imagine a relaxing sound moving through your body.
e) You may imagine the muscles limp, loose, dormant; maybe like a loose rubber band, or a rag doll, or whatever else you can imagine to indicate the relaxation spreading. I learned a great technique from Terrence Watts who suggested imagining the body as a candle and as the candle softened and got warm and liquid-like, so the muscles of the body got warm and softened and so on.
f) Imagine yourself in a favourite place or an imagined place, somewhere you can relax and feel safe. See the sights, hear the sounds and enjoy the feelings you have when you are here.
Ideally, use a combination of these elements. Bask in the relaxation you create, enjoy it and enjoy this time as well spent. You may like to repeat this step a couple of times to make sure you develop the progressive relaxation as much as possible. Once deeply relaxed and having taken some time to patiently relax your body, you then move on to the next step.
Important note before proceeding: In between each of the following steps, relax yourself again. In particular if any problematic thoughts or feelings come up or if anything unwanted distracts you, take some time to relax yourself again and desensitise those unwanted feelings with the relaxation. Observe yourself throughout. That is, as well as relaxing yourself, also notice yourself relaxing.
Step Three: Wish loving kindness upon yourself.
“You yourself as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Think good thoughts about yourself, and direct love and kindness towards yourself. Wish happiness, harmony, peace and well-being to you. You can think in general or abstract terms and just have a sense of these things towards yourself or you can think specific thoughts to yourself such as these:
“May I be happy, may I have peace, may I experience harmony.” and so on. Also wish joy and love upon yourself, “I choose to be kind to myself” for example.
You may wish to remove anything unwanted too:
“May I be free of stress, anger, resentment, jealousy” and so on.
Those of you familiar with my self-hypnosis books will know how I value being progressive and continuing to develop ourselves, so you might also add words of ongoing advancement:
“May I learn to be more patient with myself, may I trust myself more, may I grow wiser and develop more of skills that will serve me better.”
Recognise why it is important to wish yourself love and kindness first of all. Some people struggle with this. It is better to extend love to others once you are in a place of love towards yourself, and if we cannot give love to ourselves, then how can we genuinely offer it?
Giving yourself love and kindness first will fuel what happens in the rest of this process, you need to be able to give from a place of love and not just spend it all outside of yourself. This also helps fortify you, calm you and be able to offer love unconditionally to others in the upcoming steps.
You might imagine the love flowing through you as a colour, or as a sound or just tuning in to the feelings of harmony, peace and joy that you direct your own way, and when you feel you have done that, move on to the next step.
Step Four: Wish love and kindness to those closest to you.
Now you offer the same love and kindness you gave yourself to those who are closest to you. Consider your family, your friends, and others who you are closest to. Think of them individually or collectively, whichever you prefer. Now think the same thoughts as in the previous step, but direct the love and kindness to those people.
Use the same kinds of statements with the same sentiments and wishes, just direct it to those others, for example; “may my family be happy and of good health…” etc.
Once you have done that, you move on to the next step.
Step Five: Wish love and kindness to other acquaintances.
Repeat the previous step and this time direct your love to other acquaintances of yours, such as neighbours, work colleagues and so on.
Do remember to breathe, to maintain your relaxation and make sure you let go if any tension comes up from doing this.
Step Six: Wish love and kindness to those you don’t know.
You can do this symbolically, metaphorically or in any way you like. Just think of complete strangers, people that populate the world around you and direct your love and kindness to them now. Wish them all the happiness that you have wished in the previous steps. You might think of specific people that you do not know but have encountered, perhaps people you have walked past, or who you have seen in a crowded restaurant. You are really being more humane with this step.
Again, do remember to breathe, to maintain your relaxation and make sure you let go if any tension comes up from doing this.
Step Seven: Wishing love and kindness to those you do not like.
This is a step many find challenging indeed. Think of those that have been unkind towards you, those who have created unwanted feelings within you and even those who you feel a grudge towards. This step is the one that may be most challenging but can also become the most rewarding. It helps you to let go of anger, hatred, rejection and those feelings and emotions which can harden the heart.
If you really struggle with this step, then return to step one and do step one again, fill yourself up with love that will fortify you and give you strength. Tell yourself that you “choose to let go of unwanted feelings towards others” for example.
Become aware of your biases and ill-intentions that do not ever really serve you well at all. Send love and kindness out to those people and then relax yourself deeply again before you move on to the next step.
Step Eight: Send your love and kindness out to the world.
Again, this may be done metaphorically or symbolically in your mind. Send your love and kindness out, just as you have done in previous steps, to the entire world beyond you. Start directing it to the north, then the northeast, east and so on. Remember to include all life above you such as birds and trees, and all life below you including plant roots and insects. Miss nothing.
Wish love and kindness to people and all other life in other countries and throughout the planet.
Once you have sent and directed your love out to the world, move on to the final step.
Step Nine: Exit Hypnosis.
If you follow the process in my own science of self-hypnosis book, then count from one through to five to bring yourself up and out of hypnosis. Otherwise, take some deep breaths, wiggle your fingers and toes and open your eyes to reorient yourself with your surroundings. There you have it.
Once you have practiced the process within a self-hypnosis session, then start bringing it out into your life and make it something that you do outside of hypnosis sessions too. That is, make it an inherent part of who you are. Carry your loving kindness vibes with you out into the environment of your life; your home and your work place. Continue to have a friendly attitude and an open warmth to all who you encounter, without discrimination. Within the modern world as it is, some may not think this realistic or appropriate, yet when applied with intelligence and understanding, it becomes incredibly powerful.
Don’t take it from me, take it from one of the most powerful men who ever lived, Mahatma Gandhi:
“Love never claims, it ever gives; Love never suffers, never resents, never revenges itself. Where there is love there is life; hatred leads to destruction.”
“Where there is love, there is life.”
“The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.”
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
I’ll leave you with that Beatles song, enjoy…..