Cultivating Compassion Meditation
Compassion is at the heart of many spiritual traditions. It shifts our awareness away from ourselves, to wishing happiness for others. As the Dalai Lama says, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If YOU want to be happy, practice compassion. ” This is great to practice any time you have feelings of grief, resentment, loneliness, anger, or sadness having to do with others.
1 Begin by following the basic instructions in Buddha’s Peaceful Abiding Meditation Pose. This time, place your hands in Lotus Mudra, and turn your gaze and focus toward your hands as though gazing at a beautiful flower. Place both hands in front of your heart with both your pinky finger side and thumb sides touching, with the base of your hands and your wrists forming a lotus flower.
Spread your other fingers as wide as possible, keeping your pinkies, thumbs, and wrists together.
2 Take a few deep breaths as if smelling the most exquisite fragrance. The lotus grows within the mi but does not get one drop of mud on it. In the same way, we can be in the muddiness and muckiness of life but keep our hearts wide open.
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3 Now begin the traditional Buddhist compassion practice of loving-kindness, or maitri . Start by sending out love and kindness with each exhale, first toward yourself, then toward people close to you like your family, then toward people who are more distant like your neighbors, then toward people you don’t know who perhaps live in a different country, and lastly toward people who have caused you suffering. The last one can be quite challenging, but it is the highest form of liberation to keep our hearts open through forgiveness and by recognizing our shared humanity.
4 You can use the traditional mantra of “May be free from suffering, may they experience health and happiness,” or choose any kind words or prayers to send out to others.
5 After 3 to 5 minutes of this practice, release your hands to your thighs, and meditate on the joyful feelings released through this practice for another 5 minutes.