A Meditation for Universal Compassion

Why not honor the spirit of giving with the best gift there is? Compassion! Whether it’s towards yourself or others, practicing compassion is one of the most healing and heartwarming things you can do. If you want to spread the love, try this simple meditation that will help cultivate compassion in your life as well as in the lives of others.

To begin, get into a comfortable position. You may want to sit in a chair, on some meditation cushions, or even lie down. Just make sure your back is nice and straight (without being strained or overarched). Close your eyes and take a few deep, slow breaths to let your body settle.

Start by thinking of someone you care about—perhaps this person has been good or inspiring to you. To get a feeling for his or her presence, try to visualize them, or say their name to yourself. Silently offer these phrases of compassion to this person: “May you be free of sorrow and pain. May you be well and happy.” Repeat them a few times.

After a few minutes, shift your attention inward and offer the compassionate phrases to yourself. "May I be free of sorrow and pain. May I be well and happy." Repeat this to yourself a few times.

After a few more minutes, move on to someone you find to be difficult. Spend some time getting a feeling for this person’s presence, and then offer the phrases of compassion to him or her.

Next, turn to someone you barely know (for example, the supermarket checkout clerk, or the mailman). Even if you don’t know their name, you can still get a sense of the person. Then, offer them the phrases of compassion.

Close this meditation session with the offering of compassion to people everywhere—to all forms of life, without limit or exception. "May all beings be free of sorrow and pain. May all be well and happy."

You can begin practicing this meditation with a 10-20 minute session, and then gradually build up to half an hour. If your mind wanders, don’t worry. Notice whatever that distracting thought or feeling is, gently let it go, and then simply return to the phrases.

Once you’ve completed the meditation, take an internal scan and notice how you feel. You will likely feel lighter and happier, having rid yourself of any unpleasant feelings, such as judgment, isolation, dislike, or misunderstanding. Please share your results with us in the comments below!

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