Loving-kindness meditation is an exercise to develop compassion and kindness. Though it is part of all the main religions. Meditation guru Sharon Salzberg popularised it in the west. You can practice this meditation to develop compassion and kindness.
A study by Helen Weng has reported that daily practice of loving-kindness meditation can not only increase empathy, but it can also make one more altruistic. Thus compassion, kindness, and altruism can be learned through an exercise like loving-kindness.
You can practice this meditation anytime. With regular practice, one can develop compassion and kindness.
Steps of exercise
1. Find a comfortable place to practice this
2. Take a few deep and slow breaths. Inspire slowly through your nose and exhale through your mouth
3. Close your eyes and imagine you are in front of someone you love.
4. Speak to him/her with statements of love and kindness. You can say something like "May you be safe," "May you be healthy," "May you be happy," "May you be successful," "May you live with ease" etc. Continue this for few minutes.
5. While your eyes are closed, now turn your focus to yourself and start saying same things to yourself. You can tell yourself something like
"May I be safe," "May I be healthy," May I be happy, "May I be successful" etc.
If saying above statements to yourself is uncomfortable for you, imagine you are looking into a mirror and look at yourself in the mirror. Start saying same things to your image in the mirror. You don't have to imagine yourself in the mirror. That part is only for those who feel uncomfortable to say such words directly to themselves.
6. As you get used to this meditation, you can slowly imagine saying these statements of compassion and love to your family members, friends, neighbors, colleagues, community, etc. Once you have practiced this exercise for some time with yourself and loved ones, You can then include people who have been difficult to you. It may be hard and may evoke negative emotions. Try to send kindness and love to them and develop understanding we are all humans. It may help to deal with resentment.
Mindfulness has been a part of eastern culture including Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam for centuries. It is well documented in their traditional scriptures. These exercise can be found in most of the books or material on mindfulness. More recently Mindfulness has been found helpful in dealing with stress, anxiety, negative emotions, low mood, pain tolerance and insomnia. We will be regularly uploading various mindfulness exercises here. Keep checking this page regularly.