This morning, my friend Marisa shared on Twitter this fascinating article (written in 2013 at the Atlantic) about love. It’s title is “There’s No Such Thing As Everlasting Love.” But I think the title is a bit misleading. Instead, the article is about the fact that romantic love is impossible to sustain, scientifically speaking. The focus of the article is a scientist named, Barbara Frederickson, who wrote the book Love 2.0. She suggests that our definition of love is wrong, that we actually experience moments of love all the time, and that maybe we should focus more on those moments. Focusing on those moments can bring happiness and joy to a person’s life.
She also suggests that love can be cultivated. I’ll let the Atlantic explain the study that she did and the results (it does so better than I can). But the thing that jumped out at me is that she tested her theory by using a Buddhist form of meditation that I am very familiar with, Mettā, translated in English as lovingkindness meditation. I’ve talked about my experience with this on my blog before. My experience with this seemed miraculous, frankly. But it’s really very practical.
It’s easy to do and you don’t have to be Buddhist to do this. Find a comfortable chair and about ten minutes to yourself (or even 5). Say these phrases in your head over and over:
May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you be safe
May you live with ease.
Start with yourself. Yep, just say the phrases to yourself. Then move on to someone you care about. Think about that person and say the phrases to them. Then think about someone you know who is in pain. Say the phrases to them. Think about someone you might be having difficulty with. Say the phrases to them. Think about someone you see often but don’t have a relationship with, like the cashier at the grocery story. Say the phrases to them. End the meditation by sending the phrases to all beings.
If your mind wanders don’t worry about it (it will wander) just come back to focusing on the phrases.
There are countless guided meditations of this out there. Google “Metta Guided Meditations.” Choose one and follow along to get a feel for how it’s done. Here is one by Gil Fronsdale, whom I like.
I am going to try something. Using my “I wonder what will happen if” principle : I am going to try doing Metta meditation three days a week. I wonder what will happen? Maybe I will write a blog post about it in a month and let you know.
I would encourage you to try it as well! If nothing else, you will have a few relaxing moments to yourself. If you do try it, I’d love to hear about your experience!
Happy Valentine’s Day!