Loving Kindness Meditation

Another very simple yet potent practice you can do on a daily basis to revitalize your interconnectedness at a deep level is the practice of loving kindness meditation. We especially like to do this one at the end or start of a day, or to celebrate and share the joy of a job well done or a moment well lived, and let it ripple out to the larger community we're part of in a boundless way.

The essence of this loving kindness meditation is the wish that we, and all beings, enjoy happiness and well-being. In Sanskrit, loving kindness is called maitri, which is often translated as "unconditional friendliness." Here's how it goes:

Begin by touching your heart, if you like, and smile to yourself in tender appreciation and care. Holding the sincere wish to be of benefit to yourself and others, take a few deep breaths, relax your body, and bring your awareness to the area in the center of your chest around your heart. Continue to breathe naturally and gently with awareness, allowing the region of your heart to open and soften with the movement of the breath flowing through it. Notice any sensations of warmth or tingling there as you deepen your calm awareness.

In this practice, also known as metta, we focus initially upon ourselves, recognizing that despite the unwholesome behavior to which we are still prone, and the mental distortions to which we are still subject, at our very core lies an essential purity. There is a fathomless potential within us for wisdom and compassion, and our very wish for well-being, for happiness, our wish to be free of suffering, may be regarded as an expression of that True Nature. Let it be unveiled, allowing it to manifest its full potential.

From this perspective, cultivate this prayer, aspiration, wish: "May I be free of mental distortionsófree of anger, free of grasping, free of confusion. May I be free of the mental and physical suffering that arise from such distortions of the mind. And may I recognize and cultivate those other qualities of my beingóloving-kindness and compassion, wisdom and patience -- the whole array of wholesome qualities that are there too. For my own well-being and the well¨being of others, may these arise, may these flourish. And may I experience the wonderful sense of well being and a wholesome way of life from deep compassion and from deep insight. In this way, may I be well and happy. May my fears and sorrows fall away. May I find a joy that is untainted by anxiety, a joy that comes from my own heart."

Holding the feeling of this intent and wish for well-being in your heart and mind, repeat the following phrases mentally to yourself first, several times, and then expand the radius of your loving-kindness successively out to wider and wider circles. Go deeply into the meaning and feeling behind the words:

  • May I be happy and peaceful.
  • May I be free from fear and pain.
  • May I live with love and compassion. And may I fully awaken and be free.

As you end this loving kindness meditation, imagine and affirm all this to be so right now, as vividly, as realistically as you can.

[Adapted from the book "Luminous Mind" by Joel & Michelle Levey]

Return from Loving Kindness Meditation to Meditation Techniques

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