Loving Kindness meditation
One of the hardest things about suffering is the
feeling that we are trapped in our painful circumstances--lost,
hopeless, and alone. We fear our suffering will go on forever, and
that there is no way out of it. And when we don't know how to
transform or heal our own suffering, we may find it difficult to be
with and support others in distress.
Before we can extend compassion toward others, we
must first feel love. If we find our own heart is wounded or walled
up, the Loving Kindness meditation can help reconnect us to the
source of love within. Once this love opens our heart and heals our
pain, then we will be able to offer our genuine love and fearless
compassion to others.
The actual practice of Loving KindnessSit quietly, and allow all the scattered aspects of
your mind and energies to settle down. Acknowledge and embrace
gently any suffering or struggle you become aware of. Now, remember
a person from your life who once loved you very much. Imagine this
person sitting in front of you at this very moment, extending his or
her love to you once again. It's all right if you can recall only
one happy memory with the person--make that memory of love your
entire experience, and bathe in its healing warmth.
Feel the other person's love coming toward you
like warm rays of sunlight, permeating your entire being, and
especially filling and warming your heart. If there is an old
barrier around your heart, see it not as a massive or impenetrable
wall, but as fragile as a thin layer of ice. Let the love flowing
toward you melt the ice of your old hurt or fear, warming and
nourishing your heart.
As this healing love comes into you, you feel your
heart overflowing with love and gratitude. You feel peaceful, whole,
and replenished with love. Naturally, your love and gratitude goes
out now to the person who evoked it, wholly and unconditionally.
Expand your loveOnce this giving and
receiving of love is flowing strongly, expand the direction of your
love another degree. Imagine that on either side of this person in
front of you are other people in your life whom you love and
cherish, and extend the same love to them, fully and joyfully. Then
consider that on either side of this central person are also people
you don't know very well: co-workers, shopkeepers, neighbors, even
strangers you pass on the street.
Extend the same love to them, fully and
wholeheartedly. Expanding your love further, consider that on either
side of the central person loving you are those who irritate you,
those you've been angry with, or who seem to be your enemies. Extend
the same love to them, fully and unconditionally, loving and
accepting them exactly as they are.
Finally, expand your love to embrace all beings.
Consider now that the whole space in front of you is filled with
beings throughout the universe, all forms of conscious life,
including the tiniest insects, and even those who have died. Now
your love is boundless and unbiased, and it shines powerfully onto
each and every one, extending happiness to all existence.
Maintaining the inspirationAs you
conclude the practice, don't shake off the inspiration, awareness or
limitless love it has aroused. Instead, as much as you can, continue
practicing the essence of this meditation throughout your day,
extending unconditional love toward yourself and everyone you meet.