February is the month of love and friendship, and at the root of these experiences is a deep commitment to kindness. I pride myself on being a people guy: I like people, and as a leader, I know that nothing is more important than the team I serve. So when the 24GO team challenged me to try a new meditation this month—a lovingkindness meditation, no less—I said no sweat.
The team chose for me the lovingkindness meditation taught by Lianna. It is often referred to as a “metta” meditation: Mettā (Pali) or maitrī (Sanskrit) means benevolence, lovingkindness, friendliness, amity, goodwill and active interest in others. The cultivation of benevolence (mettā bhāvanā) is a popular form of meditation in Eastern cultures and religions. It is intended to cultivate a practice—and a propensity—for kindness by mentally sending goodwill, kindness and warmth toward others through silent repetition of a series of mantras.
I liked the sound of this because I know firsthand how genuine interest in others drives positive human behavior. People will show up and do their best when you believe in them and give them the opportunity to express their best. The particular meditation the team gave me is described as one that is open to all and promises that Lianna will soothe us and provide instructions that I could just follow—and let myself feel the love.
Compared to last month’s cold therapy challenge, this was easy to set up. All I needed was my phone with the 24GO app open, my headphones and a quiet, comfortable place to sit. I was ready to feel and share the love.
This was a good, contemplative practice. I enjoyed the voice of the instructor, which is important because some voices can be distracting. Lianna was clearly focused on helping to develop a calm, focused mind. I was not sure how exactly I would be guided to be more kind and thoughtful, so it was a pleasant surprise to find it’s about developing compassion, which she explains is cultivating love for the people and experiences in your life.
One thing to note is that this is a secular application of meditation that isn’t tied to a particular religion or spiritual affiliation. You don’t need experience, and it’s appropriate for any age.
At its heart, the meditation is about learning to practice care, concern, tenderness, lovingkindness and friendship. It’s also about being able to create a feeling of warmth for oneself and others despite the circumstances. We can all use more compassion and develop our ability to connect more quickly and deeply with others in the world.
After the meditation, I felt good—peaceful—and I would say that throughout the day, I was supercharged in my mindfulness of the others around me, my patience and my willingness to connect more deeply with everyone. I can see how it can become a profound and meaningful practice, and for my first experience, it primed me to be even more open and friendly and ready to see and serve those around me in the very best way that I can.
As we know, meditation is a game-changing practice. Like working out, you need to develop and condition yourself to sit still and embrace the experience. As you do it more and more, you reap the benefits of focused clarity and the ability to direct your mind at will. For anyone who is new to meditation, guided experiences like this one are a great on-ramp: It’s like having a personal coach to guide you to success.
Lovingkindness is not just for February. I learned that it’s not sentimental—it does not depend on relationships or how another person feels about you—and it shouldn’t be practiced as an obligation. Instead, it’s designed to break down barriers in our minds and toward others so we can be more present in our relationships at work, at home and in the world. Now I’m ready to try the other meditations available in the 24GO app after my workouts or on the go!
Photo credit: Kailash Kumar, Adobe Stock; Chris Roussos