Join me today if for no other reason but to feel a bit more loved, understand why Loving-kindness or Compassion Meditation is so important, and get simple instructions on how to do one starting today. Come on, the holidays are coming, let’s build up our compassion muscle. There actually is a method. The more you lack compassion, the harder it is to get it back. Seriously, use it, or you lose it. Come on, the Dalai Lama does this type of meditation, and he is super cool.
Speaking of the Dalai Lama let's start with a couple of quotes that you might have seen or heard a thousand times, but they never get old:
~Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.
~There are only two days in a year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday, and the other is called tomorrow. Today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly live.
~Compassion is, by nature, peaceful and gentle, but it is also very powerful.
Of course, there are many others I could quote, including Mother Teresa, St Francis of Assisi, and many past presidents. Likely names such as Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D Roosevelt, who said his struggle with polio helped him develop an appreciation for other people. Then, of course, there is the speech to the American University by John F Kennedy. The list could go on and on, but sometimes it gets confusing. Are they compassionate, sympathetic, or empathetic?
Sympathy: A feeling of identity with a situation. Sending a sympathy card to someone who lost a parent.
Empathy: The ability to feel someone else's feelings. Feeling just as much excitement as a friend does when they tell you they got a big new job.
Compassion: Sympathy and empathy together with an added desire to help. Compassion literally means "to suffer together."
You can't stand by and watch them suffer; you must take action. It could be as simple as making meals for the homeless.
So why do we want to practice compassion through meditation? Well first, it's easy and second, with this ease comes great reward. And practicing compassion strengthens our kindness muscle. Not a muscle really, but that part of the emotional center of our brain. This part of our brain must be used like all the other parts but realistically and perhaps sadly we spend more time in our CEO brain then our loving brain.
In Buddhism, there are a series of four virtues and meditation practices made to cultivate them.
1- Loving-Kindness (Metta)
2 - Compassion (Karuna)
3 - Empathetic Joy (Mudita)
4 - Equanimity (Upekkha)
I wanted to mention this before I give you some tips for practice because the third one is really cool, and I don't hear much about it. Plus, I like the sound of Mudita. Mudita is defined as pure joy unadulterated by self-interest. You can be happy about the delights that other people feel. This empathetic joy is the joy that is associated with helping others, it is the reward in and of itself. This is how I feel when I do a loving-kindness meditation, that just doing it brings me pure joy. This is how we should all feel when we do for others.
(There are many online you can find, this is just the one I do)
Begin with a few long slow deep breaths through your nose.
Choose a phrase or a few that resonate with you. I will give you the three that are my go-to but feel free to choose your own.
May you be healthy.
May you be happy.
May you know you are loved.
Begin with someone you care about, a parent, a child, a partner or anyone you feel love for or admire. Visualize them and silently repeat their name. Next, silently offer loving-kindness by silently repeating your chosen phrases a few times. As you say the phrases allow yourself to feel with whatever feelings come up without creating a story about the person or the feelings. Just be present with the feeling without any doing.