Cultivating Compassion

This is a practice to intentionally develop feelings of unconditional acceptance and kindness towards ourselves and others.

Cultivating these qualities in a methodical and intentional way opens the door to greater tolerance, compassion and forgiveness.

Why Tolerance, Compassion and Forgiveness?

It is quite probably unreasonable to expect to behave as a saint. Though cultivating these ethical and virtuous qualities may assist us in our exploration of ourselves and reality.

  • When practicing kindness, often in the most difficult of circumstances, we feel the greatest reward. Kindness is both selfish and self-less!
  • When you respond to others with kindness, they are more likely to respond favourably to you. When others treat you unkindly, you experience mental agitation.
  • Mental agitation is uncomfortable and distracting. In the relative world, it is a complete waste of our time.
  • Ultimately, it helps us to see a deeper truth by bringing us into closer alignment with the essence of that which we seek.

Preparation

  • Choose a time and place where you will not be disturbed. Set aside at least 5-10 minutes.
  • Sit with a straight back and relaxed posture, in a chair or cross-legged on the floor - whatever is most comfortable, stable and relaxed.
  • You may close your eyes, or simply rest your gaze on the floor in front.
  • Take a few moments to reflect on your reasons for sitting, to set your intent.
    • Have you ever experienced confusion?
    • Have you ever been tired or grumpy, and lashed out unconsciously at those around?
    • Have you ever had cause to be glad that you learnt something new?
    • Do you sometimes feel misunderstood?
    • Is it possible other people have had these experiences too?
    • How does it make you feel when others are unkind to you?
    • How does it make you feel when others are kind to you?
  • Consider doing a short Relaxation Meditation prior to beginning the breathing meditation, to settle the mind-body.

Instructions

  • Generate a feeling of benevolence, loving-kindness, warmth or open acceptance:
    • You can say the word in your mind, that resonates most with you, or
    • You can imagine someone whom you have these feelings toward
    The feeling you're looking for is totally unconditional and accepting. In a sense, your intent is as if you had all the power in the world to bring happiness, and relieve suffering - for yourself and others. You are a field of kindness.
  • Direct this feeling toward those closest to you - a close friend, relative or child.
  • If the feeling or intention subsides, or you become distracted, simply repeat the generation step as many times as required.
  • Direct this feeling towards yourself - recall your motivation if you have difficulty here.
  • Direct this feeling towards a stranger. Perhaps a shop assistant, or someone you see in passing on the street.
  • Direct this feeling to someone with whom you experience difficulty - someone who annoys or irrtiates you, or makes you angry.
  • Remember to keep re-generating the benevolent, loving-kindness intention whenever it subsides, or your mind becomes distracted.
  • Finally, direct this intention toward all people, animals and life. It may be helpful to visualise loving-kindness as a white light enveloping the world.

At each stage, spend anywhere from 15-seconds to a few minutes as you feel comfortable. Don't worry if your visualisation isn't great, or you can't hold the feeling. Your intention is key.

Finishing

  • Be gentle when you arise from meditation.
  • How do you feel?

Guided Meditations

There are guided audio meditations available on the Internet. You can listen to these on your computer, phone or audio player. Using a guided meditation can help you when you are new to meditation.

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