Journal / Inspiration

Loving Kindness

20 Sep, 2022

The power of Metta Meditation.

20 Sep, 2022

This week has felt sad for obvious reasons. A sense of national loss, alongside a general loss of stability. The way collective grief can pull us back to other periods in our lives when we lost someone we loved. Or, as one member of our community so beautifully reflected in The Powder Room, the realisation that those who are still with you will not be there forever.

For me, I’ve found returning to some of the tools our wonderful practitioners have shared with us really helpful. And one I wanted to share with you is the concept of Metta Meditation which I was introduced to by the wonderful self-compassion coach, author and podcast host, Henny Flynn.

Metta Meditation, or Loving-Kindness Meditation, focuses on developing feelings of goodwill, kindness, and warmth towards ourselves and others. It is a practice that encourages us to radiate kindness outwards - to those we love, to those we may have conflict with and then to the whole world, before returning the compassion back to ourselves.

It is also a practice that has seen increased interest from the research community in recent years, with impressive results.

In a landmark study, Barbara Frederickson, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina, found that practising seven weeks of Loving-Kindness Meditation increased love, joy, contentment, gratitude, pride, hope, interest, amusement, and awe. The report concludes:


“These shifts in positive emotions took time to appear and were not large in magnitude, but over the course of 9 weeks, they were linked to increases in a variety of personal resources, including mindful attention, self-acceptance, positive relationships with others, and good physical health…They enabled people to become more satisfied with their lives and to experience fewer symptoms of depression.”


In addition, researchers have found that Metta Meditation:

  • Increases our vagal tone (effectively activating our parasympathetic nervous system), which increases positive emotions and feelings of social connection

  • Increases grey matter volume in our brains in areas of the brain related to emotion regulation

  • Improves our stress response and helps us be more resilient

  • Increases respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA): Just 10 minutes of loving-kindness Meditation has an immediate relaxing effect as evidenced by increased respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), an index of parasympathetic cardiac control (i.e. your ability to enter a relaxing and restorative state), and slowed (i.e. more relaxed) respiration rate

  • Delays biological markers of ageing: We know that stress decreases telomere length (telomeres are tiny bits of our genetic materials that are a biological marker of ageing). However, A 2013 study found that women with experience in Loving-Kindness Meditation had relatively longer telomere length (which are used as a biological marker of ‘age’), compared to age-matched controls.


There is even evidence that it can help mitigate migraine severity by alleviating emotional tension associated with chronic migraines.

The Dali Lama has said:


“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

When our hearts are heavy, practising kindness - both outwards and towards ourselves - can be the balm we need.

As we look ahead to tomorrow’s national day of mourning in the UK, why not gift yourself a little self compassion? Getting started is easy. Henny’s Metta Meditation is available to listen to now on Insight Timer. Download the app or click HERE, and…. Begin.

With love Rebekah and the MPowder Team.

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