Loving-kindness meditation is one of my personal favorite meditations and is also one I love to teach other people. Loving-kindness is a meditation that develops compassion for ourselves and others. It helps to soften your heart and cultivate love. It is as simple as it is complex.
This meditation finds its roots in Buddhist tradition and it’s words can be changed to have more meaning for you. If you were to look this meditation up you would find many different versions but I find the simpler the better. Essentially the things you say stay the same and the person who you direct them to changes. I use the following:
May ___ be happy.
May ___ be healthy.
May ___ be safe.
May ___ live with ease.
As you go through filling in the blank with the person you are directing the energy towards, do so without any conditions. It calls for an inclusive and unconditional love. It isn’t restricted to people that are easy to love or towards those you would expect to receive love back from. You first direct the meditation towards yourself, “May I be happy”. After you are done with all of the phrases you start over again with a person you feel unconditional love towards. Next you move on to someone you have neutral feelings towards. Someone you don’t have strong feelings towards either way. Then you move on to someone you have difficulty with in feeling love towards. You end with sending this love out to the whole world.
Someone you love unconditionally.
Someone you have neutral feelings towards.
Someone you have difficult feelings towards.
Everyone in the world.
Sometimes this whole practice can feel easy and others it can be extremely difficult. I suggest practicing this in sections at first. Starting with yourself, continuously use all four sentences for a period of time or even break it down staying with one part of it for a week or so. This could easily be a practice that takes up a good part of a year. If you were to take a week for all four parts then it would take five months to go through you, a loved one, a neutral person, a person you have difficulty with and the world. Then you could spend a few more months practicing the whole meditation for a few more months after. It would be a great way to give each part of the meditation your complete attention and really sit with it.
There can be days where you find it difficult to send love your way or even to a loved one let alone to a person you have neutral or complicated feelings towards. The important thing is to try not to judge those emotions or try to suppress them. Don’t try to control what you feel. When it arises, witness it. If it is especially difficult take some time to journal what you are feeling or talk to someone if you need to process it further. After some time you will find your heart and mind softening and the ability to look at the world with kinder eyes.