A Guided Meditation on Loving-kindness and Compassion
In a recent post, we focussed on the practices of loving-kindness and compassion and discussed their role within Buddhism and within spiritual practice more generally. Following on from this post and further to several emails we have received requesting more information on these practices, here we provide a short introductory meditation on loving-kindness and compassion. This meditation is adapted from a guided meditation that we included in an article entitled ‘The psychotherapeutic applications of loving-kindness and compassion meditation’ that was recently accepted for publication in Thresholds (a journal of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy). The first part of this meditation focusses on establishing equanimity, calm, and meditative awareness, and the second part provides a gentle introduction to the practices of loving-kindness and compassion. There are many ways to practice this meditation, but our suggestion is that you adopt a suitable meditation posture, and then spend one or two minutes on each of the ten exercises.
An introductory meditation on loving-kindness and compassion
- Breathing in, I am fully aware I breathe in; Breathing out, I am fully aware I breathe out.
- Breathing in, I am aware whether my breath is deep or shallow, short or long; Breathing out, I allow my breath to follow its natural course.
- Breathing in, I am aware of the space and time that exists between my in-breath and out-breath, and between my out-breath and in-breath; Breathing out, I relax into this space and time.
- Breathing in, there is nowhere else I need to be; Breathing out, I am already home.
- Breathing in, I am here; Breathing out, I am now.
- Breathing in, I enjoy breathing in; Breathing out, I enjoy breathing out and I smile gently to myself.
- Breathing in, I am aware of the suffering that is present inside of me; Breathing out, I allow any difficult feelings to calm and relax.
- Breathing in, I cultivate feelings of joy and happiness; Breathing out, I bathe in those feelings of joy and happiness.
- Breathing in, I am aware that other people also suffer; Breathing out, I radiate feelings of joy and happiness to others.
- Breathing in, I return to simply following my breathing; Breathing out, I enjoy the experience of simply being.
Ven Edo Shonin & Ven William Van Gordon
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Mascaro JS, Rilling JK, Negi LT, et al. (2012). Compassion meditation enhances empathic accuracy and related neural activity. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. DOI:10.1093/scan/nss095.
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Shonin E, Van Gordon W, Griffiths, MD. (2014). The psychotherapeutic applications of loving-kindness and compassion meditation. Thresholds: Journal of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Spring Issue, In Press.
Shonin E, Van Gordon W, & Griffiths MD. (2014). The emerging role of Buddhism in clinical psychology: Towards effective integration. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, In Press.