Tita Angangco, cofounder of The Centre for Mindfulness Studies, shares a loving-kindness meditation that serves as an ignition to sparking change.
1. In preparing for this practice, let’s all try to sit comfortably with both feet planted on the floor, spines erect, but relaxed. We can close our eyes if that feels OK, or keep the eyes open and soften the gaze.
2. Let’s now take our attention to the sensations of breathing, following the in-breath as it travels through the nostrils, expands the chest, and settles in the belly. Follow the out-breath as it travels back from the belly to the chest and out through the nostrils.
3. Then asking, “What is my experience right now? What thoughts are going through the mind? What feelings are here?” And saying to yourself, “Let me be with you. This is what it is right now.”What body sensations are present that you are aware of right now?
4. Now, we’re turning to a loving-kindness practice. Allow yourself to remember and open up to your basic goodness. Remember times when you’ve been kind or generous, or recall your natural desire to be happy and not to suffer. If this is difficult, then look at yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you. What does that person love about you? Or you may recall the unconditional love you felt from a beloved.
Remember times when you’ve been kind or generous, or recall your natural desire to be happy and not to suffer.
5. And as you experience this love, notice the feeling in your body, maybe a feeling of warmth in the face, maybe a smile, a sense of expansiveness. Rest in this feeling of open, unconditional love for a few minutes.
6. Begin, now, to wish yourself well by extending words of love and kindness yourself. “May I be filled with loving kindness. May I be saved from any harm. May I be well in body and mind. May I be at ease and happy. May I know the natural joy of being loved.”
7. Now, extend loving-kindness kindness specifically to those among our fellow human beings across the globe suffering not just from the pandemic, but also from chronic injustices and unkindness. Our brothers and sisters in America who are Black, who are living in extreme poverty, who are more likely to also be suffering from oppressive systems, and are also more likely to be stricken down by this pandemic. May we affect the changes needed so that you can be filled with loving kindness; you can be saved from inner and outer harm; you can be well in body and mind; you can be at ease and happy, you can know the natural joy of being alive.
8. Now, allow your awareness to open out in all directions, to yourself, a dear one, a neutral person, and a difficult person; and to all beings, humans, and animals living everywhere; living in richness, poverty, war, peace, hunger, abundance. Be aware of all the joys and sorrow that all beings experience. May all beings be filled with loving kindness. May all beings be safe from inner and outer harm. May all beings awaken and be free.
9. And, let go of this loving-kindness practice and gather your attention. Focus back on the breath, resting in the rhythmic sensation of the inhale and exhale as best you can, allowing thoughts and feelings to fall away. And just being, with an awareness of the sensation of breathing. Breathing in, I know that I’m breathing in. Breathing out, I know that I’m breathing out.
10. Now, end this practice by gently opening her eyes and bringing this expanded, more spacious awareness to the next moment of your day.
This classic loving-kindness meditation can help you to awaken to how connected we all are. You don’t have to like everybody, or agree with everything they do—but you can open up to the possibility of caring for them, because our lives are inextricably linked.