How to do loving-kindness meditation

Now we can do a meditation that helps sweeten and calm the mind. You begin with developing loving acceptance of yourself. If resistance is experienced then it indicates feelings of unworthiness are present. No matter, this means there is work to be done, as the practice itself is designed to overcome any feelings of self-doubt and/or negativity.

Then you are ready to develop loving-kindness to others. Four types of persons are chosen to send loving-kindness to:

  • A respected, beloved person – such as a spiritual teacher;
  • A dearly beloved – which could be a close family member or friend;
  • A neutral person – somebody you know, but have no special feeling towards, for example: a person who serves you in a shop;
  • A hostile person – that is, someone you are currently having difficulty with.

Starting with yourself, then moving systematically from person to person in the above order will have the effect of breaking down the barriers between the four types of persons and yourself, at the same time breaking down the divisions within your own mind. Try different people to practice on as some people do not easily fit into the above categories, but do keep to the prescribed order.

Ways of arousing feelings of loving-kindness:

  • Visualising, that is, have a mental picture of yourself, or the person you have chosen, in a happy state of mind.
  • Reflecting on the positive qualities of a person and the acts of kindness they have done; and to oneself, make and repeat an affirmation, that is, a positive statement about yourself.
  • Auditory, while this is the simplest – it can be the most effective method. It is repeating an internalise mantra or repetition of a word or phrase such as ‘loving-kindness’.