/ / Lovingkindness Meditation

Lovingkindness Meditation

Excerpts from “Sacred Practices for Conscious Living” on the topic Lovingkindness followed by a Meditation Exercise

The journey into wholeness brings many unexpected gifts. One of these is compassion. This extraordinary state of being arises spontaneously when we allow ourselves to recognize that we have at least one thing in common with all beings: our capacity to suffer. This realization creates a bridge of understanding between ourselves and others. As we become more whole and acknowledge the inevitability of our inherent imperfection, our capacity for compassion increases. As it does, a sense of connection with others deepens and expands. Within a context of compassion, we tap into a collective human experience and realize that we are not alone in our suffering. The world becomes populated with people whose deepest yearnings for love, comfort, and security aren’t so very different from our own. For this reason, even as the sources of suffering may differ, depending on our culture and life circumstances, we are alike when it comes to the inevitable fact that we all can be touched by feelings and experiences that cause distress. . .

Lovingkindness, called metta in Sanskrit, is the state of mind and being from which compassion emerges naturally. When we practice lovingkindness, we truly enter a realm in which we recognize that all beings – including ourselves, our loved ones, and our enemies – seek to be happy and free from suffering. We not only recognize and empathize with the suffering of others, as we do when we experience compassion; we also actively wish for [ourselves and] all beings to be free from suffering and to find happiness. . .

As a therapist, I initially worried that practicing lovingkindness could lead to denial or passivity in relationships with others. Many of us want to rush into forgiveness before truly acknowledging and resolving the conflicted and negative feelings we have about others. The surprise to me was that mixed feelings have a home in lovingkindness, and wishing others well in no way diminishes awareness of the consequences of their actions. . .

When you first begin to practice lovingkindness, you may have to act “as if” you wish happiness and freedom from suffering for yourself and others. If this is the case, I encourage you to be willing to experiment with the following meditation, and give yourself an opportunity to discover the surprising power of lovingkindness as it develops into an experience that is alive and real for you.

How to Use this Meditation Exercise
It’s been my experience that doing this meditation once or twice a week, when you have time to really sit with it and enter into the spirit of what it touches, can have a powerful healing effect over time. Doing it regularly in this way creates a state of mind that promotes greater self-acceptance, compassion, tolerance and ease with ourselves and others. It also offers a way to experience and honor mixed feelings while continuing to open your heart. If you choose to experiment with this meditation, give it several months to have an effect and notice how you feel as you use it over time.

Lovingkindness Meditation

Begin with stillness – in the still point in the gap between the outbreath and the next inbreath.

Focus on your heartspace and find the sacred space within the heart a cave, chamber, whatever comes to mind – Settle in there

Think about yourself for a moment, and explore your experience as you offer yourself lovingkindness with the following words, which you can repeat to yourself mentally or out loud:

May I be free from the causes of suffering.
May I live with compassion for myself.
May I experience happiness and well-being.

Now, think of all the people you love, everyone who is close to you. – Repeat the following words mentally or out loud:

May all those I love be free from the causes of suffering.
May I live with compassion for all those I love and may they live with compassion for themselves.
May all those I love experience happiness and well-being.

Now, think of all the people you know-acquaintances, colleagues, store clerks- or those people you have ever seen, anywhere and everywhere in the world. – Repeat the following words, mentally or out loud, noticing what it’s like to make the conscious choice to open your heart to the fact that everyone you know wishes to be free from suffering and be happy:

May everyone I know or have ever seen be free from the causes of suffering.
May I live with compassion for everyone I know or have ever seen and may they live with compassion for themselves.
May everyone I know or have ever seen experience happiness and well- being.

Now, imagine everyone in the world you do not know and have never seen, and mentally or verbally repeat the following statements. Notice how your heartspace must expand to include the billions of people you have never seen or met:

May everyone I do not know or have never seen be free from the causes of suffering.
May I live with compassion for everyone I do not know or have never seen and may they live with compassion for themselves.
May everyone I do not know or have never seen experience happiness and well-being.

Bring to mind, now, anyone who has ever hurt you in any way, remembering, as well, all those people you may have hurt. Then, continuing to expand your heartspace and allowing any mixed feelings that may arise, say the following, mentally or out loud:

May anyone who has ever hurt me be free from the causes of suffering.
May I live with compassion for anyone who has ever hurt me and may they live with compassion for themselves.
May anyone who has ever hurt me experience happiness and well- being.

Next, imagine all the living beings of the earth-animals, insects, birds, fish, plants, rocks, viruses, bacteria-every single life form on the earth, visible and invisible.

May all beings be free from the causes of suffering.
May I live with compassion for all beings. May all beings experience happiness and well-being.

Now, take a moment to imagine that not only do you send lovingkindness to all beings, but that you also are the recipient of lovingkindness thoughts being sent to you by the many people who engage in lovingkindness meditations around the world.

May I receive lovingkindness from others.
May I be free from the causes of suffering.
May I live with compassion for myself.
May I experience happiness and well-being.
May I receive lovingkindness from others.

Notice what it feels like to spend some time in your open heart experiencing the effects of both sending and receiving lovingkindness.

Go back to the stillness, the ever-present stillness and review your experience. Imagine how practicing lovingkindness, if you don’t already, might affect the quality of your daily life, and your relationship with yourself and others.

Similar Posts

3 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.