10. Loving-kindness stops public speaking anxiety
27 October, 2014
Rachel in Anxiety, Loving-kindness meditation, Meditation for wellbeing and health, Positive emotions, Stress management

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. She has practised loving-kindness meditation for many years.

Loving-kindness is a positive, joyful meditation.There are many emotions for us to learn to manage and transform when we are developing our emotional intelligence.

One of the emotions that most of us dislike is anxiety. Yet it is anxiety that most of us also need to learn to handle and reduce if we are to develop our emotional intelligence to a higher level and have a happier life. 

Fortunately, there are many ways to manage and reduce anxiety.

I have already written about the value of meditation in doing this. However, in this article I will specifically focus on loving-kindness meditation, (LKM).

I have found loving-kindness meditation very helpful in reducing anxiety, in preventing anxiety and in managing anxiety across all areas of my life.

This includes overcoming some public speaking anxiety. Public speaking anxiety is a common problem and loving-kindness meditation is an original way of solving it. It has worked beautifully for me. Here's how.

Emotional intelligence 1: How loving-kindness meditation helped my public speaking anxiety

When I was the master of ceremony for a large international conference I became very nervous in the weeks and months before the event. At one stage I even tried to get out of it because I was so anxious I would let the organiser down and not be good enough.

I was typically doing what everyone with public speaking anxiety does - imaging all the errors I would make and the things that would go wrong. I even imagined that the audience would be against me rather than for me. Stupid really, but this kind of public speaking anxiety is played out across the world on a daily basis.

How did I use loving-kindness meditation (or metta meditation) in managing my anxiety?

It was simple really, yet profound. I would imagine the audience in the convention centre and send them feelings of loving-kindness.

In order to send them loving kindness I would first of all place my attention on the area in the middle of my chest and around my heart and bring up an image of something that I felt caring and loving towards. For me it was a baby kangaroo.

However, it may be an image of a soft, lovable dog, or the serene look on someone's face, or it might be a baby, or the feeling of the soft fur as you stroke a kitten ...

Once I had the feeling, it became my meditation focus.

Then I would imagine the audience in the convention centre and let this sense of love and caring flow to them.

I did this night after night. I imagined the audience and sent them loving kindness, for minutes on end.

If you would like to follow a guided loving-kindness meditation, the one that I used is on our MP3 set "Happy not hassled". I recommend it to you.

MP3s: $29 (US). Add to Cart

Emotional intelligence 2: What results did I get with Loving-Kindness Meditation?

In addition to my master of ceremonies role I also helped to run and organise the conference. I was in charge of the running sheets for the day so I had a lot of extra aspects to consider, all of which could cause me anxiety.

On the morning of the conference I woke up early in a panic that we had forgotten the matches! I was at the convention centre as soon as possible and feeling anxious. I stayed anxious all the way until my curtain call.

However, when I stepped out onto the platform to start the conference everything changed. I looked at the audience and I felt nothing but loving-kindness towards them. My public speaking anxiety disappeared totally and in its place was warmth and caring.

It had worked! It was a beautiful way to overcome the anxiety as I felt good too. 

People commented afterwards how much warmth I conveyed and how good I was at helping the audience relax. Brilliant! I was rapt! They didn't know my secret method either, they all thought I was just being natural!

Yes, loving-kindness meditation definitely helped me in managing anxiety when public speaking.

Now before I am due to speak to any audience I might get nervous about, I practise sending loving-kindness to them the night before and while I am travelling to the event. Now I don't get nervous speaking in public. Managing my public speaking anxiety with loving-kindness meditation certainly worked for me.

How are you managing your anxiety? I recommend you try loving-kindness meditation for public speaking anxiety or anxiety about other aspects of your life.

Want to gain the benefits of meditation? You can do it now using our professional recordings "Happy not hassled". There are four guided meditations of different lengths and types for you and instructions on how to meditate.

MP3s: $29 (US). Add to Cart
Please note: Anxiety occurs to varying degrees. It can be very minor to completely debilitating. Please seek the professional help you need. It is recommended that people with significant or long-lasting anxiety seek the help of a good psychologist, medical practitioner or psychiatrist. Meditation is not a cure-all for all anxiety problems.
Article originally appeared on The Emotional Intelligence Institute (http://www.theeiinstitute.com/).
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