5 Simple Steps To Develop Compassion…


5 Simple Steps To Develop Compassion



 

Loving kindness Meditation is a Buddhist meditation practiced in order to develop compassion for all beings, however, it is now practiced widely by those from all walks of life. The fact is most of us live with turbulent emotional states for a lot of the time, often affected by what’s going on around us, other people’s actions or even simply what’s going on within our own minds.

Imagine you are in a happy, jolly mood driving down the street when someone cuts you off in their car – what’s your reaction? Perhaps you’d feel angry, frustrated or victimized and maybe this one single event would be enough to ruin your mood and your whole day, taking the actions of another person that personally.

Yet you don’t know a single thing about the other person; maybe something terrible had happened to them, maybe their wife is giving birth and they’re rushing to hospital, maybe they are just an idiot! Who knows but wouldn’t it be kinder and more compassionate to yourself, as well as to other person, if you reacted with empathy, acceptance… and then carried on with your day?

What I’ve come to believe is that everyone, all of us, absolutely everyone I know, is doing their best with what they know; yet more often than not we get it wrong, and sometimes drastically wrong. The trick is to see that the other person is dealing with their own drama, insecurities and fears, as you are with yours. If you can find a way to detach yourself from taking other people’s drama and actions personally, there is an enormous level of personal freedom that comes along with it.

BUT it is a bloomin’ hard habit to cultivate; although might all sound very twee, practicing this type of meditation has actually been scientifically proven to help.

SEE ALSO: 7 Crazy Facts About Buddha You Didn’t Know


The Science

Studies have found that by practicing, loving kindness meditation significantly decrease levels of depression, and participants who have been studied to practice regularly experience increased levels of love, curiosity, amusement and awe.

This type of meditation, and commonly most other types after regular practice, has been proven to increase the grey matter volume in your brain – an area responsible for regulating emotions – and leads to better emotional intelligence, increased levels of empathy and lower levels of stress.

Studies are also proving that practicing Loving Kindness Meditation can have an impact on migraines, chronic pain and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.


The Practice

You can adapt the affirmations I’ve listed in this practice to what feels more appropriate for you. You can also extend the practice to include friends, colleagues or groups of people – as you see fit.

But here is a simple step by step guide to a basic beginners Loving Kindness Meditation.

Step 1 – Get comfy

Get yourself into a really comfortable position; if you are happy to sit cross legged on the floor or cushion do so with a straight spin and with your chin slightly tucked in; but make sure you are comfortable and won’t be distracted by aches, pains or bodily discomfort in this position. If it feels more appropriate to sit with your back against a wall or if you feel like lying down – do so. It’s your practice.



Step 2 – Close your eyes and settle in

Close your eyes and spend a few moments focusing on your breath and adjusting your position to allow yourself to completely relax.

Step 3 – Focus on your breath

Take a few deep breaths in, filling your lungs completely and feel yourself relax as you let go with the exhale. Mentally give yourself permission to just relax and let go for the duration of your meditation.

Send a few minutes just following each breath with a gentle curiosity – notice the rhythm, the depth, the sensation of each breath.

Step 4 – Repeat affirmations of Loving Kindness

When you are ready, bring to mind someone you love unconditionally, the love that doesn’t depend on getting anything back – a child, a parent, a partner. Imagine they are in front of you, see their face, feel their presence, feel how you would if you were with them; then with them in mind – send them Loving Kindness:

  • May you be safe
  • May you be well
  • May you live with peace
  • May you accept yourself as you are

Pause after each set of affirmations to allow the feeling of Loving Kindness to fill your mind, body and heart.

Then bring to mind an acquaintance or someone neutral – perhaps someone who you pass in the street or see on the bus. Someone you have neither strong feelings of like nor dislike for. With them in mind, repeat each affirmation sending them your Loving Kindness.

Then, being kind to yourself, bring to mind someone you have difficult or hostile feelings for. Be gentle and kind to yourself as you repeat each affirmation, sending them your Loving Kindness.

Next repeat each affirmation to yourself; send yourself your deepest Loving Kindness. You are exactly as you are meant to be and you are trying your best.

Finally imagine the warmth, love and acceptance from within your heart radiating out from your chest to all beings, to cover the earth as you repeat each affirmation sending your Loving Kindness to all.

Step 5 – Breath and Intention

Take a deep breath and set an intention for the rest of your day. Slowly blink your eyes open and take your time to expand your awareness to your surroundings.

Stretch out and carry feelings of Loving Kindness throughout your day.




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Joey Hulin

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Joey is owner of <a href="http://www.horizonretreats.org/">Horizon Retreats</a>, a company passionate about offering everyday, hardworking people an introduction to meditation, mindfulness…

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