Welcome back to the MBSR Meditation series. My name is Nejra and today, I will be guiding you through a practice where we will be bringing kindness to ourselves, to the whole of our experience, and expanding to include more and more people, meditating on our shared common humanity.
We do this with an attitude of curiosity, kindness, and non-judging.
So to begin this meditation, let’s settle ourselves into a comfortable sitting position, on a chair, or on the floor, supported by cushions.
Perhaps feeling the ground beneath the feet, or noticing the contact between the chair and the sitting bones.
Placing the hands to rest on the lap or the thighs.
The head balanced on top, with the chin tucked in very slightly and the neck elongated.
And settling into stillness, coming back to ourselves, to our being, allowing us to just be as we are in this moment.
Focusing ourselves to observe the sensations of breathing.
Can we feel how the breath enters and leaves the body?
What sensations follow the cycle?
Observing the breath as it rolls in and out.
Although this practice is about empathizing with others, we start with ourselves—it is only possible to connect with others if we have awareness, openness, and honesty in our own experience.
From this space of being grounded and in the moment. Bringing to mind someone that it is easy to feel kindness towards.
A loved one, a friend, partner, or family member.
If it’s challenging to think of someone, you could imagine the warmth and tenderness you might feel toward an infant, a kitten, or a puppy.
Experience how your face softens, and your heart expands, in their presence.
Now, imagine directing these same feelings of warmth and tenderness to yourself, repeating the following phrases.
May I feel safe.
May I feel happy.
May I feel healthy.
May I live with ease.
Between each phrase pause for just a moment to drop your awareness down to your body, to your heart in particular; note and accept whatever sensations arise here.
Whatever we are feeling.
Just practicing having the intention of kindness from wherever we are, however we are now, even when there is pain or suffering.
Perhaps softening, as best we can, to whatever is present by taking the breath to any painful sensations, breathing in softness, and breathing out with a sense of softening resistance.
So practicing giving ourselves permission to be just as we are.
Breathing in loving kindness. Breathing out and letting go.
Simply surrendering to the experience as it is, without requiring that it be any different.
Just inhaling, and exhaling.
Practicing broadening and investigating with awareness the nature of experience from a perspective of wholeness and integration.
And now, whenever we are ready bringing to mind a dear friend, as best as we can.
So visualizing this person standing in front of us.
Observing their silhouette, their face. Perhaps hearing their voice. Or remembering how it feels to be with this person.
As in the first stage we reflected on the pleasure and pain in our own experience. Now we are practicing reflecting on the fact that our dear friend also experiences pleasure and pain. Joy and sadness. Happiness and fear.
The stories of our lives and circumstances are different, but the basic human experience is similar.
They experience the same range of emotions that we experience.
And, just like us, they wish to love and be loved.
We can also reflect that our friend is breathing in and out just as we are.
And just as we wished for ourselves, now directing loving-kindness towards them saying:
May you feel safe.
May you feel happy.
May you feel healthy.
May you live with ease.
Practicing becoming aware of our friend on the in-breath, and then breathing out kindness and well-wishing towards them on the out-breath.
Coming back to the body and breath. Anchoring in the present moment.
Breathing in kindly breath. Breathing out kindly breath.
Practicing connecting with what we share, our common human experience.
Then broadening out our awareness to include more and more people.
No matter where they live, their age, or origin.
Feeling the unity we share.
May we all feel safe.
May we all feel happy.
May we all feel healthy.
May we all live with ease.
Allowing kindly awareness to permeate our breath as we practice awareness of a widening circle of life.
Opening to a sense of the whole world breathing—rising and falling like waves on the ocean.
Expanding the attention to include the entire body from the soles of the feet to the top of the head.
Being present to the totality of the experience of sitting here in this moment.
The breath rolling in and rolling out down into the ground.
Breathing in, and breathing out down into the earth, being supported, nurtured, and held.
And when we are ready, gently turning our awareness to feel the earth beneath us.
The sense of sitting or lying here in this present moment.
Maybe offering an invitation for the body to stretch and move in any way that it wants.
The Loving-Kindness Meditation is now complete.
Thank you for meditating with me.
In the next, final session, we will explore bringing the qualities of a mountain to your meditation practice and life.
See you in the next practice.
”Although the practice is about empathizing with others, we start with ourselves—it’s only possible to connect with others if we have awareness, openness, and honesty in our own experience.