Loving-Kindness & Compassion Meditation

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Cultivating love and kindness in our lives. We cultivate kindness and compassion for ourselves and other people in our lives. 

There are many ways to practice Loving-Kindness & Compassion mediations, but there is how I like to teach mine.

First we start by connecting to minds. I like to create an image that brings us peace, like our favorite place in the world! We imagine ourselves here in our favorite place through memory and imagery of what it looks like and smells like. Then I invite everyone to begin calling people to join them here in this welcoming space. Throughout the practice we call upon four different people. We begin with someone we love dearly. It is often easier for us to give love to someone who we have given love to in the past. This helps us connect to the feelings and emotions that stem form loving kindness and compassion. So we call to mind an image of this person in their purest form. Even if the person is an adult, their purest form through your eyes may be as a child. Once we call this person to mind we really let the imagery connect us to this person through their facial structure, smile, eye color, and everything else physical that makes them who they are. You may also think of the sounds they make like their laugh, or maybe their breath. After we connect to this person with this person in our minds, then we notice how this connection makes us feel. Perhaps a warmth in our hearths, or butterflies in stomach. Then we offer phrases of loving kindness and compassion with repetition. I usually repeat these phrases two to three times per person.

My favorite phrases of loving kindness:

May you be happy

May you be healthy

May you be safe from harm

May you live with peace and with ease

These are my favorite phrases to use, but creating new phrases is always an option! When repeating these phrases I ask my students to really mean each phrase when they say it. Tuning into all the emotions and sensations we feel when cultivating loving-kindness and compassion is what makes this meditation so powerful. Once the phrases are said, then we move on to our second person. This person is someone that is in our lives on a regular basis, but someone that we don't know every well. Not even an acquaintance. A grocery store clerk, the mail man, or anyone else you don't know personally. We imagine them and then offer these phrases to them. Experiencing giving love to someone who is a stranger is a very warming act, and when we see them out in the world it grants us a reminder of loving kindness and compassion. Even if we don't remember the practice when we see them, subconsciously we feel the love we have offered them through our energy.

The third person we call to mind can make this practice difficult. We call to mind someone who has caused us pain or harm. Someone that we struggle to have a relationship with and find it hard to give love to. We imagine this person, and notice how that makes us feel. Allowing the emotions and feelings to arise gives us the opportunity to acknowledge the hardships of this relationship. Then we offer the phrases, and dig down deep into our hearts to really mean it when we say them. The third person offers the ability for us to look at troubling relationships fighting them with kindness and compassion. In my experience with the third person, when I am struggling with someone and bring them to mind during this meditation the next time I see them I step into the situation with loving kindness and compassion instead of other emotions like pain, fear, anger, sadness, confusion, or shame. Truly, this is the practice of killing them with kindness! After the phrases are given, we reflect on the way we feel after cultivating compassion for this person. Though everyone is different, my students express that they feel a bit more at ease with that person after this practice.

Finally, the four person is yourself. After giving love to someone you find it difficult to give compassion to, giving love to yourself becomes a breeze. You view yourself in your purest form. Imaging what you look like and that you are in a state of happiness. We pay attention to the feelings and emotions that stem from viewing yourself in a positive and beautiful way. Then we alter the phrases to speak about ourselves.

Altering the phrases for yourself:

May I be happy

May I be healthy

May I be safe from harm

May I live with peace and with ease

Cultivating loving kindness and compassion towards ourselves is the hardest to do for most people. We are often so hard on ourselves for our smallest mistakes and regrets. Never stopping to take a moment and give ourselves the love that we so much deserve. After feeling all the love you can give to other people, giving love to yourself is that much easier. There is an element of forgiveness within this meditation. When we offer the phrases of loving kindness and compassion to someone we are struggling with, may that be ourselves or our third person, we offer the possibility forgiveness. Forgiveness in letting go of what was done and rethinking the relationship with kindness and compassion.

I recommend to practice loving kindness and compassion one or two times a week. This practice can be quite emotional, but it may be in your benefit to practice it three to four times a week. When I find myself doubting myself, thinking negatively about who I am, or about another relationship this practice is extremely helpful. 

I recommend this practice to older teens, adults, and seniors that are looking to cultivate more loving kindness and compassion in their lives.


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