To say, “I meditate” is akin to saying “I play sports.” Just as there are many types of sports, there are so many forms of meditation. Meditation is classified into three groups: concentration, insight (vipassana) and loving kindness.
- Concentration meditation: focuses one object. Consider everything else as a distraction. Come back to the subject of concentration.
- Insight meditation: opens us up to every phenomena around us whether it be through sounds, tastes, touches or thoughts and their impermanence. They come and go. Vipassana meditation allows us to experience impermanence, instead of understanding it from an intellectual perspective.
- Loving kindness meditation: when practitioners deeply realize the heart and mind connection.
Loving Kindness Meditation’s Benefits
This week, we’re highlighting loving kindness meditation. Here are a few ways on how it can touch your heart and help you connect with those around you:
- It develops a sense of connection towards ourselves, our loved ones, neutral acquaintances and seemingly difficult companions.
- It develops empathy. We do not always have to agree with everyone, but we can relate to how a person feels. To experience empathy, a person must first experience it through compassion and a desire to help someone. There can be no empathy if there is no desire to help.
- It is rooted in neuroscience. Richard Davison, Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at United World College, studied people who practice loving kindness meditation. This form of meditation activates a part of the brain called “the insula.” This region is responsible for bodily representation of emotions and holds the map of our internal organs.
Two Month Journey to Empathy
- Empathy is intimately connected to what we experience physically when someone tells us about their life difficulties or pleasant experience.
- Practicing for just 8 weeks helps practitioners to feel a sense of connectedness to people around them and naturally fosters a desire to help others.
Loving kindness is powerful and magical. People practicing it feel a sense of unity towards everyone. Try it once and you will see the effect it has on you.
Loving Kindness Meditation Training
Day: every Friday in February
Time: 3 – 4 pm
Pierre Gagnon, Mind Trainer
Thanyapura Mind Centre
About the Author
Pierre Gagnon practised concentration and insight meditation intensively from 2010 to 2012, then went on to study meditation at Wat Suan Mokkh with the venerable Ajahn Po from 2013 to 2015. As well as his own practice, he has coordinated meditation retreats in the south of Thailand which were attended by more than 1,000 people.
Having a great passion in the field of neuroscience, he likes to integrate these concepts into meditation practice. He believes that much of our life is lived resisting and defending against internal and external experiences that people perceive as threats. Through the development of concentration and meditation, we can insightfully see that all experiences are harmless and there is no need to defend of contract around them. Pierre has experience coordinating concentration and insight meditation retreats, teaching the relationship that exists between Buddhism and neuroscience.