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Half-inched from Why Kindness is Good For You, but also from other places, and adapted for my own use.


The full-on version:

  • Find a comfortable meditation position. Sit in a relaxed way, lie supine or walk in the fresh air, somewhere peaceful.

  • Take some deep breaths through your nose. Feel your body relax.

  • Now think of someone you know very well, and love very much. Someone you have little or no difficulty feeling compassionate and loving towards. Might be a partner or friend or family member. Hold them in your thoughts, and say of them, "May [name] be well, may [name] be happy, may [name] be free from suffering".

  • While you do so, really turn your emotional attention towards them, and extend lovingkindness towards them as much as you can.

  • When you are ready, turn your attention towards somebody else to whom you feel easily loving and compassionate, and do the same thing. "May [name] be well, may [name] be happy, may [name] be free from suffering." Again, extend as much lovingkindness towards them as you can.

  • Now your compassion muscles are warmed up a bit, go for one of the difficult ones: yourself. Self-compassion is important, and extending lovingkindness towards yourself is nearly always a feature of compassion or lovingkindness meditation. In fact, often you're advised to start with yourself. I find it much easier, though, if I go to myself second or third rather than first - I'm more in the zone, and it's easier for me to override my exceedingly low self-esteem. So, think of yourself with as much patience and compassion as you can muster, and say or think aloud, "May I be well, may I be happy, may I be free from suffering".

  • Don't worry if that or any other bit of this is difficult to start with. It will improve with practise, though there will always be days when it is harder than other days. Remember that you are allowed to be compassionate and loving towards yourself!

  • And now move on to somebody else, and take in, one at a time, as many people as you feel up to. Family, friends, partners. People you don't know personally but know are in need of compassion.

  • When you feel able to (which may not be the first time you do this), bring in people for whom you have complicated or even generally negative feelings. From friends who are being problematic, through to public figures who are doing things which are outright destructive and horrible. You don't have to be okay with the negative things people have done to you or to others. But you work on feeling compassionate towards them anyway.

  • If you're feeling really into it, you can end with, "May all people be well, may all people be happy, may all people be free from suffering". Or even, "May all living things be well, may all living things be happy, may all living things be free from suffering".

  • At any rate, when you feel ready, take some more breaths, accept (and, if possible, enjoy) whatever you're feeling, and gradually bring yourself back to the every day.



The informal version:

Do bits and pieces of the above at odd moments throughout your week, even lots over the course of a day. On the loo, waiting for a train, running through a bus, getting ready for sleep, waiting for a slow window to load on the internet, anything like that. Turn your compassionate and kind attention towards people who are stressing you, or who need extra love, or who you're aware you haven't thought of much lately and would like to.


And either way...

You may find that doing this will make you want to do more loving and kind actions towards the people you are focussing on in your meditation. This is good! And kind of what it's supposed to do. :-) Even after a week of mostly the informal version, I've definitely been finding that I'm getting more urges to behave in a loving and kind and patient way. Often it even helps me to bypass the anxious/guilty feelings that sometimes stop me from contacting people I'm aware I've been neglecting. Extending lovingkindness towards them helps me to just go, "oh yeah, I can drop them a line now and say hello and hopefully they will like that and it will brighten their day". Rather than angsting at length.

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Journeys in Kindness/Journeys in Kind

September 2010

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