In yesterday’s post, I wrote about the practice of Loving Kindness Meditation. I wanted to demonstrate its importance as a tool for changing one’s own self and even changing the world. Here I would like to share the steps involved in the meditation. It is slightly different than the way I was taught in that it keeps returning to love for one’s self. I made only a few changes to the meditation as described by Newberg and Waldman.
Step One: Sit and slowly repeat the following prayer ten times, out loud or silently to yourself:
May I be happy.
May I be well.
May I be filled with kindness and peace.
Step Two: Now turn your attention to someone you love such as a friend or even a pet.
May you be happy.
May you be well.
May you be filled with kindness and peace.
Step Three: Now turn your attention to the person you like/love the most. Smile as you visualize his or her face and repeat the prayer above. Then return the love to yourself as in step one.
Step Four: Now move on to another person, not so much in this inner circle such as another relative or friend, someone who comes to mind because you happen to have a concern about them or recently encountered them. As you pray the prayer of loving kindness, notice how your feelings change with each person.
Step Five: Keep enlarging your circle to include as many different people as you can: colleagues, neighbors, the mail carrier, etc. Again, notice your changes in mood.
Step Six: Now extend your prayer to include people you may have difficulty with or whom you find it difficult to forgive. As you pray, think to send loving thoughts to those persons who may have hurt you in the past. If you feel resistance, don’t fight it. If you feel resistance, just acknowledge it and come back to loving yourself.
Step Seven: Pick One person whom you may find especially difficult to forgive. Look for one small quality that you may like in that person and focus your attention on that one trait. Hold any positive thoughts that might come to your mind. Pray the prayer for them. Do you feel any less angry toward that person? Less hurt? Even the slightest decrease in anger is beneficial to your brain. Each time you do this exercise pray for this person again. Give the prayer time to soften your heart.
Step Eight: Finally, extend your loving kindness to the world:
May everyone be happy.
May everyone be well.
May everyone be filled with kindness and peace.
Hold a vision in your mind of all the different people in the world, all cultures, all colors, all religions, and all political groups. Imagine everyone getting along with each other and living together in peace.