A Lovingkindness Meditation

Monday, May 8, 2017 - 5:30 am

A Lovingkindness Meditation

If you’d like, you could close your eyes. It’s perfectly all right to have your eyes open, if you’d rather not. But since I’m going to ask you to imagine somebody who might not be here, you might have an easier time imagining with your eyes closed.

You don’t have to sit in a special way. But if you want to, close your eyes. And just take two deep breaths, in and out.

Take a long breath in, and out. And in again, and out.

Feel yourself sitting here. Feel yourself surrounded by all these people. Feel yourself, I hope, happy and content.

And think in your mind a blessing for yourself, the metta practice, lovingkindness practice always begins with a blessing for yourself. So think for yourself:

“May I feel safe. May I feel content. May I feel strong. May I live with ease.”

Bring into your mind, someone that you love tremendously —  a parent, a partner, a child, a sibling —  someone you love enormously. That thinking of them brings delight into your mind. You probably have more than one. Pick one just for this moment. Imagine them right in front of you. Imagine that they can feel you wishing for them so you make this wish in your mind for your person:

“May you feel safe. May you feel content. May you feel strong. May you live with ease.”

Think about another person that you love a lot. Imagine them and wish for them:

“May you feel safe. May you feel content. May you feel strong. May you live with ease.”

Let your body stay relaxed and easy. I often tell people to smile when they’re blessing, it makes their whole body more relaxed. Think of someone that you rarely think about but that you’d recognize if you met. I always think about Paula who’s been cutting my hair for ten years. I like her very much, but I normally don’t think about her in between. So I like to think about her sometimes in the middle of blessing, because my relationship with her becomes a little dearer. Think of a person that’s a familiar stranger and wish for them:

“May you feel safe. May you feel content. May you feel strong. May you live with ease.”

Think about, past the people that you recognize in the world, familiar strangers, all the unfamiliar strangers, near and far. All around us here and stretching out all around the whole world, all around this whole globe. All people just like us, with lives, who want, just as we do, to live in safety and contentment, to be able to feel strong, to have lives of ease. Who share with us the same wishes and hopes and dreams that we have as human beings. Come home to their family, to be able to take care of their family, celebrate another birthday. Wish for all those people, all beings near and far:

“May you feel safe. May you feel content. May you feel strong. May you live with ease.”

May all of us everywhere feel safe and content and strong and live with ease. Before you open your eyes now, think of the person to your right, to your left, in back of you, in front of you. And see if as you say these phrases of blessing in your mind can actually feel that you are radiating out these blessings of well-wishing to them.

“May you feel safe. May you feel content. May you feel strong. May you live with ease.”

And when you open your eyes now and look around, perhaps you look to the right and to the left and behind and in front and see all the people who have been blessing you. It’s a lovely feeling to be in a room full of blessing people. One of my fantasies, which has become stronger since last week and talking about people power and media power is that the whole world will wish themselves something like that and we’ll have a different world.


This meditation is included in Sylvia Boorstein’s interview with Krista Tippett:

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Contributor

Sylvia Boorstein

is a founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. Her books include That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Buddhist and Happiness is an Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life.

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Reflections

  • LenMinNJ

    It’s not a good idea to send wishes of safety, contentedness, strength and ease to all sentient beings near and far, if those strangers include ISIS, Boko Haram, terrorist groups that attack civilians (like Hamas and Hizbullah), and countries that gas their own civilians. Safety and happiness for those people only increases their evil deeds. A friend of mine who is a Zen Buddhist roshi once called that “idiot compassion.”

    • Nora

      I personally think that when the people of ISIS, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hizbullah, etc etc really would feel safe, content, strong and would live with ease, then they wouldn’t be aggressive any more. I think that all human violence comes out of a feeling of deprivation, insecurity, need of exaggerated control, weakness, fear. So that’s why I can give this blessing in utmost intensity to all those who are a threat to their surroundings.

      • LenMinNJ

        This is a fundamental difference how different religions of the world understand basic human nature. Some religions understand that no amount of safety, happiness, ease or strength will necessarily result a person doing good or being compassionate. One could have all of those and still do evil.

  • I don’t know anything about meditation. How does it work or how to fill the depth of the meditation?

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