Are you consciously making efforts to deal with negativity and conflict in your life? If not, it can become quite consuming, and if you have ever struggled with stress, anxiety, anger, or resentment, meditation can be wonderful compliment to cope with these difficult feelings. Emotional wellness is one of the most practical reasons to meditate, and as a natural by-product of managing these troubling emotions, meditation offers the chance to cultivate greater positivity as well. Compassion is one positive emotion that can help us alleviate negativity such as resentment, anger, guilt, or shame, and there is a specific meditative practice where loving compassion can be developed for ourselves and all living beings.
Developing insight from meditation
There are three main stages of meditation. Primarily any form of meditation centers on: Concentration – Focusing your mind Tranquility – Allow the mind to be still Insight – See what’s there Meditation can be much more than just focusing our mind and letting it be still. We can take meditation a bit further and start exploring who we are and what’s there within us – the good and the bad. Meditation can help us develop our character and gain insights about who we are and what life is all about. It can help us reach toward greater self-discovery and self-awareness about where we can grow and how we can find self-acceptance. As we gain these insights we can start developing and cultivating certain virtuous qualities, such as compassion, that can have a positive influence on our life.
What is compassion?
Compassion is a positive emotions where we are empathetic to others suffering, we connect with their suffering in such a way that we strive to alleviate their suffering and take action to help them. We develop a mindset where we truly want others to be happy. Developing greater compassion for ourselves and others is truly a way that we can increase our personal happiness and improve relationships. It can lead us to finding self-acceptance and self-compassion, and really give us a method to heal emotionally and become a much more loving person. There is a wonderful TED talk by Joan Halifax that touches on the fundamental importance of compassion, and is a great reference to learn more about how this can transform our life.
I have found that compassion is something we must cultivate within ourselves first before we can begin experiencing true compassion for others. For this reason, you may want to apply the practice of developing self-compassion first. This is something to consider as you approach loving-kindness meditation, and is the place we will start below as we go through the phrases for meditation. After you have developed self-compassion and you progress in mediation practice, you will start to focus on the suffering of others, such as parents or loved ones who you truly care for. Allow the emotion of empathy to wash over you and embrace the feeling of how wonderful it would be if these people could experience peace and happiness. Bask in the joy and pleasure this offers. Eventually, as you grow to be a more compassionate person, you can apply this practice to those you feel neutral towards and ultimately to those you even feel some contempt for. It gets less natural and more difficult to truly desire peace and harmony to those we feel disdain toward. So, when we can begin to offer this loving compassion to our enemies we are truly transcending our temporal struggles. We are getting to a place where we can start to move beyond toxic emotions such as jealousy, envy, and resentment to a position where interactions are based on empathy and consideration for others. Imagine the peace of mind that will follow! As you practice this meditation, work to visualize the person in your mind. Use all of your capacity to really connect with this person as you offer them blessings and really embrace the emotions taking place. Be very intentional about cultivating compassion and loving-kindness. Notice how compassion feels, and really pay attention to emotions in your body and mind. I have pulled different phrases from practitioners and scholars of meditation that can help direct your meditation.
If you need more information on beginning a meditation practice refer to these posts:
5 Reasons to Meditate and a Guided Meditation to Get You Started 5 Simple Steps to Start Practicing Meditation If you’re ready to begin now, start by getting in your normal meditative position, whether you’re sitting down in a chair, in lotus position, or even lying down, just get in a comfortable position. Relax your body, close your eyes, and begin to breathe normally. You can start by just focusing on your breath and preparing yourself to engage in this practice.
When you are ready, below are some phrases to help you begin developing greater self-compassion and practicing loving-kindness meditation.
Let go of all the negative thoughts and feelings that you have been harboring today and go through the following phrases.
“May I forgive myself for any wrong doing, and may I accept myself as I am. May I be safe and peaceful, and show kindness to myself as I would to others I care about. May I be happy and know the natural joy of being alive. May I touch great and natural peace. May I be well in body and mind, and live with ease. May my physical body be filled with strength. May I be filled with loving-kindness and compassion for myself. I respect myself and am content and pleased with my life.”
Now consider someone you love and care for, a family member, spouse, child, or friend and apply the phrases to their life and well-being. Picture them in your mind and use the name of the person you are considering with the phrases below.
“May they be safe, and free from danger May they be happy, and full of joy and love, May they be healthy, May they live with ease, and may their life unfold smoothly, May they be free from suffering and find emotional peace.”
This meditation can obviously be tailored to focus on certain things you or someone else may be suffering with, so this is just a general overview of how it can be applied. Hopefully these phrases and affirmations provide you with a good starting point to experience greater self-acceptance and self-compassion, and to enhance your love and compassion for others. Photo credit: Suicine