Coloring as Loving-Kindness (Metta) Meditation

LKcoversmallI’ve finished another coloring book: Loving-Kindness Mandalas. In this book you’ll find a lot of lotus flowers (symbols of purity and compassion), hearts (symbols of love of course), meditating figures, and a dharma wheel made of dharma wheels (symbolizing wisdom and understanding). For now the book is exclusively available at candyhippie.com. I’ll make it available in my Etsy shop at a later date.

Loving-kindness meditation, or metta meditation, is a style of meditation aimed specifically at reducing negative emotions and grudges, while strengthening compassion, well-being, appreciation and generosity. Loving-kindness is a basically an exercise in focused well-wishing, with the goal of cultivating postive habits in the mind.

The first four of the twelve mandalas in the new book are named after the four qualities of love cultivated by the practice: friendly loving-kindness (metta), compassion (karuna), appreciative joy (mudita) and equanimity (upekkha). Metta is a friendly, caring and embracing warmth which reaches outward. Karuna’s compassion is about having genuine empathy for people’s difficulties. Mudita is about feeling happy for someone, appreciating and feeling joy in people’s good fortune. Equanimity is a subtle result of cultivating the other three: a consistent, calm feeling of acceptance and caring toward everyone equally.

mettathumb4These four qualities are cultivated by wishing oneself and others be well. These wishes come in many forms. The latter eight of the mandalas in this coloring book are named and designed after eight popular well-wishing meditations: “May you be filled with love and kindness,” “May you be free,” “May you be happy,” “May you be in good health,” “May you be peaceful and at ease,” “May you be safe from harm,” “May you be well,” and “May you gain understanding.”

These wishes should not only be directed ourselves and our loved ones, but also strangers, difficult people, people we dislike, and even those we consider enemies. As a popular Buddhist phrase explains, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else. You are the one who gets burned.” A goal of metta meditation is to gradually rid ourselves of our angers and grudges.

mettathumb5To use these mandala coloring pages for metta meditation, concentrate on the words and titles of the pages, repeat them to yourself if you’d like, and in your mind, direct them toward the people in your life as you color, envisioning your coloring activity as a freely-given gift. Color the centre for yourself, and as you move outward, color for family, friends, neutral acquaintances, people you find difficult or unlikeable, and finally enemies, if you feel you have any.

You might find it useful to make up a personal system of color symbolism to help you focus as you practice. Certain colors might symbolize different people in your life, for example.

While using these mandalas for metta medtation, remember to genuinely direct the mandalas’ messages and emotional states toward their recipients, cultivating loving-kindness in yourself. This will increase your happiness and, with practice, will naturally manifest in your actions toward others in your daily life.

If you’d like to learn more about the details of practicing metta meditation, try these resources:

18 Science-Based Reasons to Try Loving Kindness Meditation – some are new to me!

Loving-Kindness meditation – an overview by buddhanet.net.

Metta Bhavana – in-depth instructions by Venerable Sujiva.

Loving Kindness Meditation – an instructional video.

Please do try out the Loving-Kindness Mandalas coloring book. I made it in hope that others could benefit from coloring it, as I have done in practicing metta meditation and in mindfully creating these mandalas.


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