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Lovingkindness meditation

by Bodhipaksa

Although the concept of emotional intelligence is relatively new in the west, Buddhist practitioners have been in the know for over 2,500 years. > This simple meditation practice the Development of Lovingkindness helps us to develop a healthier relationship with ourselves and with other people.

1 Sit comfortably and with your back relatively upright, so that you have a sense of poise and dignity.

2 Notice the physical sensations in the body, starting from the feet and working up to the head, and relaxing each muscle as best you can. When the mind wanders (which it will do), gently bring it back to the sensations in the body. Some distraction is normal and it's best to accept it patiently.

3 Then become aware of how you are feeling. What emotions are present? You don't necessarily have to label them, just be aware they are present. Keep your awareness centered on the heart. These emotions will be your focus during the rest of the practice. If you realize you've been distracted, come back to your body, and then to your emotions.

4. Then on each out breath begin repeating a phrase, such as:

"May I be well,"
"May I be at peace," or 
"May I feel confidence." 

You can think of your heart being like a still forest pool, and the phrase being like a flower that you gently drop into the water. Let go of any sense of expectation you may have. Simply stay present with your emotions, and be open to the influence of the phrase.

5 Then call to mind a friend, and use a phrase (the same one you used for yourself or one that is more suitable for them) to wish your friend well. Note that you're not thinking about your friend here, but simply bearing the thought of them in mind, as a sense of presence or even a mental image.

6 Letting the thought of your friend fade away, call to mind someone you don't know well and don't have any strong feelings towards, and wish them well, using a phrase. It's normal to experience a little boredom while doing this, but just keep coming back to your body, to your feelings, and to wishing this person well.

7 Letting the thought of this "neutral person" fade away, call to mind someone you know personally and have conflicts with perhaps a family member and wish him or her well using a lovingkindness phrase.

8 Next, call to mind yourself, your friend, the neutral person and the person with whom you have difficulties, and wish all four of you well, using a suitable phrase such as:

"May we be well," or
"May we be in harmony." 

Look for a sense of expansiveness as you take your well-wishing to all four people at once, and then expand your well-wishing yet further, to everyone around you. You can continue expanding the range of your well-wishing as far as you wish, including not just people but animals, until you are embracing all life in your heart.

9 When you feel it's time to end, let go of any phrases or images you've been using and just sit quietly for a few minutes, enjoying the fruits of the practice and letting yourself become more aware of the world around you.

See Also:

Taoist Meditation Methods

Human Anatomy From The Taoist Perspective

Mindfulness (Vipassana)

Zen and the Art of Looking at Brick Walls

Bodhipaksa is a Buddhist teacher living in New Hampshire. He is the founder of Wildmind Buddhist Meditation, a website devoted to offering teachings on Buddhist meditation. He is the author of "Wildmind: A Step-by-Step Guide to Meditation," published by Windhorse Publications, and of a number of other titles, including "Guided Meditations for Calmness, Awareness, and Love," a popular audio CD.

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