Meditation Advice - Lovingkindness
Can't Get the Feeling to come up? Some tips and tricks from other meditators
I just can't get this feeling to come up - or if it does, it is too weak. What am I doing wrong?
When meditators first start out there can be difficulty with bringing up that warm glowing feeling of lovingkindness. Here are some ideas from other meditators that may help.
Easily overcome this issue by carefully following instructions. It shouldn't take a year to do this - a month or two practicing at home and your practice should deepen considerably - retreats in just a few days.
Why does the feeling not come up?
1. We aren't generating a SINCERE feeling. We don't mean it. You must really have the desire for your friend to be happy. Not just a saying of the phrases with no meaning. Don't worry about where the feeling is - just get to the sincerity of the feeling and it will be wherever it will be. Don't try to make it be in your chest.
2. Can't bring up the feeling - then remember a time when you did feel lovingkindness to a pet or a baby or anything at all. Stay with that memory for a while and then surround your spiritual friend with the feeling.
3. When you say phrases just use them as reminders of the feeling of lovingkindness. Don't say them without a purpose. That is definitely the wrong way and leads away from the goal. Then they are just empty words.
4. Stop trying so hard to make it happen. Gently, gently.
5. Smile the entire sitting and smile into the wish. Smile throughout the day. Smile not only with your lips but also your mind and through your eyes. Again, be sincere.
6. Have another look at the instruction videos and books.
7. laugh a little if you just get frustrated. It's ok - takes time to understand.
A video to help with Lovingkindness
When you watch the video notice what you feel. Remember this and bring this up in your sitting!
More tips from Prashant's post on the Dhamma Sukha Group.IO Discussion group: https://groups.io/g/dhammasukha
Noticing the feeling:
I have seen other people have difficulty with noticing the feeling also. Keyword is noticing. When the loving kindness is there, the feeling is there. You are just not able to notice it. That's all :-)
When I switched to TWIM, about 3.5 years ago, I recall that the feeling was a bit faint in the beginning. Also, at that time, it wasn't there for a long time. It would be there and then it would fade and then would come back as I work through 6R. Also, "priming the pump" a little through phrases and imagination helps to bring it back.
Here are some suggestions:
It is very likely that you are not noticing the feeling because the mind is either not calm enough or not alert enough. You can try a few things to build those:
Sit and meditate when you are already feeling very balanced and calm.
Try to go in situations where you are surrounded by metta from others or having a feeling of metta yourself is natural. With pets, with kids, with friends, out in nature, caring for others, planning parties, art and music etc. Even if you don't notice the feeling of metta during those situations, it may help to build up that channel, so to speak.
Meet with teachers or sangha in person; or do a physical retreat. Sometimes, it's easier to rub this off of others :-)
There may be other things disturbing your mind e.g. Stress, past emotions issues etc (sometimes they can be hidden). Talking about those with a trusted friend or taking therapy may help. Check with DSMC to see if you should try forgiveness meditation. They offer online forgiveness retreats. Or just get Bhante's book and try it from Amazon.
Alertness may not be developed. You may want to try different postures. Have good rest, proper sleep, drink plenty of water and do a regular vigorous exercise to build alertness.
Try sitting longer. Different people are different. For some, it takes longer to settle down. In longer span of time, you may be able to catch a calm and alert state.
Try to sit still (as much as possible). You won't develop unless you sit completely still for the 30 minute minimum sitting time.
Try doing Metta for yourself a little longer.
See if you are able to notice the feeling even a little bit. That's victory already. It will build up over time :-)
Don't worry about day to day progress too much. Progress is never a straight line.
As your practice develops, it will be very natural and convenient to practice meditation while working. Also, you will feel that you have more spare cycles (even while talking or working).
Don't Control the feeling. Stop Watching your Chest.
Many times meditators hear that they should develop this lovingkindness feeling, and it's a warm, glowing feeling. However, they then start paying attention to the chest area more than they should. They forget they are developing a sincere feeling of kindness and goodwill for their spiritual friend and get lost in trying to find where that feeling is, even to the point of trying to move it around, from here to there.
Please don't do that. Pay more attention to simply bringing up a SINCERE feeling of kindness - and let that feeling be wherever it will be. It might not be at the heart exactly, It might be. as I just read in a Hindu meditation article: 2" to the right of the heart. Whatever. That doesn't matter. When the mind starts to get involved in WHERE the feeling is, it loses WHY that feeling is arising.
The feeling will take care of itself: if it is in the chest then great, if it moves up then great. Just be sincere and keep reminding yourself that you truly feel kindness for your Friend - or beings in the directions, as the case may be.
Don't control or decide where to put the feeling or where to have it. Just feel kindness and SMILE to turbo charge the feeling.
When you hold a baby and feel love for it you naturally sincere. That feeling is in the heart and you have a wish of kindness for the baby; but you aren't trying to create all of those things - you just feel happiness for the baby and it all happens like it should.
Advice from Teri
I find that people often don't really "get" what the feeling is supposed to be. I've started referring back to the young Gotama's experience under the rose-apple tree, and talking about it more in terms of having a sense of "well-being." And that seems to help people "get" it more easily. So what I say is:
"Think about the primary phrase you often use to bring up the feeling of metta: May I be well. This is not talking about physical health, but about an internal sense of well-being. If we go back to the story of the young Gotama under the rose-apple tree (which the Buddha recalled as the moment that he figured out the correct way to meditate), that's what I see--a youth resting quietly under a tree and all is right with the world. No sense pleasures pulling at him, no craving, just resting freely, feeling a wholesome sense of peace and well-being and contentment. “And then joy arose and he entered the first jhana.“ (MN 36)
"And it's important not to personalize that feeling: fill yourself with it first, but then you promote and sustain that feeling and wish that same feeling for everyone. And actually, if you feel that feeling, it naturally radiates out to others--you don't have to do anything to make it happen. (Note: Bhante starts with a single spiritual friend because a lot of people found it too hard to generalize to all beings when they were starting out and could manage better a single person who they knew and cared about.) Loving kindness is wishing that yourself and everyone else should be able to maintain an inner sense of well-being no matter what is going on around them.
"So cultivating metta is just about recalling a time when you had a genuine sense of well-being that was not based in sense pleasure or unwholesome mindstates (so, not sex, not a wild run down a ski slope or other exhilarating activity, etc.), but a genuine warm feeling that's not based in "this is me, this is mine, this I am."
Refresh your practice with a fresh look at the 24 min video 6R and Metta directions here