February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day. Here is the good news: if you want the greatest return on your meditation investment, then practice loving-kindness in meditation and practice random acts of kindness in real life. You will, without fail, experience a buzz of happiness.
Neurologists have shown using MRI brain scans on long-term meditators (think Buddhist monks) that the greatest changes in the amygdala and prefrontal cortex occur to those who practice the ancient art of loving-kindness in meditation.
Loving-kindness, or Metta, is a tremendously important practice in Tibetan Buddhism. The practice encourages us to harvest compassion for our fellow humans. To begin, sit in a quiet space, seated on the floor, a sofa or against a wall. Breathe normally and place your attention on your warm energetic heart. Say to yourself, “may I be free from suffering, may I be free from the root of all suffering. May I be healthy and happy, may I be at peace.”
The words above may be altered to suit your needs. They must come authentically from your heart in order to resonate. After you have repeated the sentences above, think of a person in need and send them the same caring words. Truly feel your heart extend loving-kindness towards the person you chose. The words become like prayers. You can return to sending the prayer to yourself and then back to another person in need. Feel deep compassion in your heart for the experiences of pain that will manifest in all of our lives. Going deeper, think of a person you know who creates pain in your life and send them the loving kindness prayers, “may you be free from suffering, may you be free from the root of all suffering. May you be healthy and happy, may you be at peace.” Repeat over and over and feel your heart puddle up with compassion.
On February 17th I challenge you to send loving-kindness to people that you meet in the grocery, office, bus line or other public space. Your loving-kindness prayers will become random acts of energetic kindness. Sure you can pick up litter or pay for a person’s coffee in line behind you, but why not send as many random people a loving-kindness prayer? The science shows that over time we benefit. Our return on our meditation investment is all profit. We feel the happiness buzz when we practice loving kindness, compassion and random acts of kindness.