For many of us, we walk around our lives with a closed heart. And with all the best reasons, unfortunately this anger, resentment, and judgement can lead to depression, long term illness, and even death. That said, one of the great benefits of meditation is its ability to help people tap into compassion. If you’re anything like me, it’s kind of difficult to sit for more than 20 minutes, focusing on my breath, and not drop into come sort of compassionate state.
Checkout this recent Oprah post from Penelope Green on how to practice a compassion meditation. According to Green, a person can cultivate compassion for self and others by silently repeating phrases or statements during meditation that help one to move from a state of judgement and isolation to one of caring and connection. Here’s their six-part practice indented to foster compassion.
- To begin, take a comfortable position. You may want to sit in a chair or on cushions on the floor (just make sure your back is erect without being strained or overarched). You can also lie down. Take a few deep, soft breaths to let your body settle.
- Closing your eyes or leaving them slightly open, start by thinking of someone you care about already—perhaps she’s been good or inspiring to you. You can visualize this person or say her name to yourself, get a feeling for her presence, and silently offer phrases of compassion to her. The typical phrases are: “May you be free of pain and sorrow. May you be well and happy.” But you can alter these, or use others that have personal significance.
- After a few minutes, shift your attention inward and offer the phrases of compassion to yourself: “May I be free of pain and sorrow. May I be well and happy.”
- Then, after some time, move on to someone you find difficult. Get a feeling for the person’s presence, and offer the phrases of compassion to her.
- Then turn to someone you’ve barely met—the supermarket checkout woman or UPS man. Even without knowing his or her name, you can get a sense of the person, perhaps an image, and offer the phrases of compassion.
- We close with the offering of compassion to people everywhere, to all forms of life, without limit, without exception: “May all beings be free of pain and sorrow. May all be well and happy.”
Read more from Green on how to practice a compassion meditation here.