Some common (and very normal) questions & answers about loving-kindness / metta meditation:
1. It can be so challenging to direct loving-kindness to ourselves. Am I really worthy? Am I an ego-maniac for doing this? Should I really feel happy when so many others aren’t?
First, yes, you are worthy. You're not an egomanic, and you're entitled to feel happy.
If your thoughts sometimes go to that space, allow them to be there, and perhaps think of them in this way: as a parent, one of our goals is to help our children evolve into far better humans than ourselves. Loving-kindness practice gives us an opportunity to begin teaching our babies that they are always (and will always be) worthy of happiness, health, safety, of being seen and heard, and so many other things. That just might be the most important lesson we ever share with our children.
2. Reciting these phrases feels mechanical and odd, almost cold. When I practice, I sometimes feel just the opposite of loving or kind.
You may feel this way at some moments during the meditation, and that’s perfectly okay. Just as in every part of life, you’re always allowed to feel whatever you feel. You’re normal.
Do your best to accept any feelings, thoughts, colors, or other visions that arise without judging yourself, and try to remember that this meditation is not a one-time thing. For it to be effective over the long run, it really needs to be a regular practice – whether you practice in bed, on a meditation cushion, in the bathtub, or while sitting in traffic. You’re planting the seeds for more of the good feelings each and every time you practice. If you keep at it, it’s inevitable that those seeds will grow. You’re cultivating a beautiful garden in your heart and in the heart of your baby.
3. Do I have to sit still while meditating?
Especially if you’re pregnant, absolutely not! You may feel better lying down with a pillow between your legs or while walking. If you’re practicing with a partner, perhaps both of you rest your hands on the belly holding your growing baby or while holding each other's hands. All you need to do is get into a space that feels as safe and as comfortable as possible – which can be really hard to do while pregnant(!!), so give yourself freedom to do what’s best for you.
4. How else can I use this practice?
Some people use this practice in everyday life, as an antidote to feelings of fear, worry, hurt, or discomfort. Perhaps you'll use the practice to stay grounded during childbirth -- using your Nest Ink tattoo as a focal point. Many parents use the meditation after their baby has been born, especially when their children are hurting or during other moments of stress or concern.
During the birth of his daughter, one of our founders got next to his partner’s tummy and started to speak some of these phrases to his daughter as she found her way out of the womb. Since then, the phrases have become a lullaby that he uses while putting his daughter to bed.
Once you’ve learned the practice, you can make it your own, repeating the phrases we offer or phrases your heart grows.