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Finding Your Own Phrases for Loving-Kindness Meditation

As we describe it on the Loving Kindness page, Loving Kindness meditation is a practice which helps to cultivate the positive orientation of wishing well for yourself and others. In addition to the stabilizing elements of mindfulness, including breath and body awareness, Loving Kindness meditation makes use of imagery and language to help open the heart.

The imagery is what arises from bringing to mind people you're in a relationship with. You imagine their presence: what they look like, sound like; what it feels like to be in their presence. We often bring to mind someone we have a warm and intimate relationship with to help orient the heart towards kindness as it usually feels pretty natural.

The language element are phrases: simple wishes you repeat to yourself that help to orient the heart towards kindness. There are a set of "stock phrases" which are adapted in various ways from Buddhism which are usually used. For example:

May you be happy and joyful.

May you feel safe and secure.

May you be healthy and strong.

May you live with ease.

These are wonderful wishes but for many of us they might not sound very natural. Additional possibilities may open up if you had your own phrases of loving-kindness. The kind of language and sensibility that comes naturally to you.

The Exercise

The Mindful Self-Compassion curriculum includes a wonderful practice of finding your own phrases which we offer here. This video is of Tim leading this practice. You'll want to be sitting in a quiet and undistracted environment and have pen and paper to hand. The lesson is 35 minutes long.




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