‘Metta Bhavana Meditation’ or ‘Loving-Kindness Meditation’ is a Buddhist meditation practice which focuses initially on the cultivation of self love and self acceptance. This love then inevitably overflows beyond our sense of self to reach out and embrace others. The benefits of loving-kindness meditation include an increased sense of self acceptance, a feeling of being interconnected with others and the development and cultivation of gratitude and forgiveness.
I have adapted the Metta Bhavana Meditation into a mandala colouring excercise which works with your creative self to promote these same qualities.
1. Print out the colouring template and find a space where you can be alone and undisturbed. Light a candle, maybe some incense, make yourself a cup of tea and gather together your favorite colouring medium. Sit with your back strait and spend a few minutes focusing on your breath and coming home to your centre.
2. Begin colouring your mandala in the centre as you bring to mind your happiest self or yourself as a child. Try to focus on a feeling of acceptance and gratitude for all that you are and all that you will become. Repeat the following phases to yourself…
May I be filled with loving-kindness.
May I be safe from inner and outer harm.
May I be healthy in body, heart and mind.
May I be happy and free.
Don’t worry if this doesn’t come naturally or if you struggle to feel open hearted whilst doing this, just stay with it and accept all that comes up with non-judgement. Trust that the process has a power of its own. As you colour, simply be in the present moment. Let the colours choose themselves as you slowly colour in the mandala.
3. As your colouring moves out toward the middle layers of the mandala imagine this light of glowing loving-kindness overflowing to include the people around you that you share your life with, friends, family, your local community. Imagine loving kindness filling and flowing through them and repeat the loving kindness phrase for them.
4. When you begin to reach the outer layers of the mandala and you begin to colour the edges, imagine this light of loving-kindness is now spilling over and reaching out in all directions to all corners of the globe. All living things are included. On land, air and sea. Feel your connection to all of them and recite the loving-kindness phrase silently for them.
May all beings be filled with loving-kindness.
May all beings be safe from inner and outer harm.
May all beings be healthy in body, heart and mind.
May beings be happy and free.
When you have finished colouring your mandala take a moment to sit in stillness and reflect on the process and your finished mandala. Dedicate the fruits of your practice to the benefit of all beings and return to your day with mindfulness and creativity.
(This meditation has been adapted from Sarah Avant Stover’s ‘Loving-Kindness Meditation’)