May we feel safe, strong, happy and peaceful

The loving-kindness meditation helps us and helps the world

Have you heard of loving-kindness? You don’t have to be a monk or a saint to practice it. We start where we are and I can assure you, you will feel the benefits immediately -if not, sooner!

The loving-kindness meditation helps us cultivate feelings of openness and compassion towards ourselves and others.  Centuries old in Buddhist traditions, it trains our heart to be more open and loving.  It nourishes us, and helps us direct healing energy towards ourselves and others.  When people (even those new to meditation) practice loving-kindness, they experience more love, engagement, serenity, and joy; their health and their connections with others improve.1

“Just a simple statement about expressing love for all living things activates the love [vagus] nerve and prompts a person to put those statements into action in the world. 2” Lynne McTaggart

Where do I begin?

Begin by relaxing and calming the mind by becoming aware of the breath.  Consciously call to mind feelings of love, kindness, or forgiveness toward oneself. Then, we go on to send tender feelings to someone we know well and care about.  Next, we identify a person we feel neutral towards; and then someone we may have a difficult time with.  Eventually we cultivate feelings of kindness and generosity towards those who are suffering, to all life on the planet, and even to the earth itself.

Free, guided loving-kindness meditations abound, ranging from 1 minute to over an hour long.3 You may settle into one set of phrases, or spontaneously create your own, changing the words from one practice to the next.  The traditional loving-kindness phrases go something like this:

 May I* feel safe and protected.

 May I feel happy and peaceful.

May I feel healthy and strong.

                         May I live with ease.       *(we, he, she, they)

How will I feel?

Initially, the loving-kindness meditation may feel fake or unrealistic.  That’s OK.  Don’t be disheartened.  Set your intentions and just see what follows.  Sometimes you may feel nothing, but at other times you may feel as though your heart is expanding – overflowing with tenderness, concern, and empathy for others.  Just accept what arises authentically, don’t rush or force anything.  Some people struggle with sending loving-kindness to themselves or others.  In this case, you may find it helpful to practice self-love and/or self-compassion4 meditations first, or in conjunction with loving-kindness meditations.

What will happen?

Loving-kindness practice helps to retrain our habitual ways of responding to others (and to ourselves).  We may acknowledge how we’d feel in their situation. We become aware that just like us, other people are full of hopes, insecurities, and suffering; and are deserving of kindness.  It conditions our mind, heart, eyes, and ears to connect with others with respect and goodwill.  Eventually it becomes easier, even second nature, to treat ourselves and others kind heartedly.

The outcome: Cultivating feelings of compassion towards ourselves and others

“Each time you encounter another, or yourself, you have the opportunity to do so with tenderness and warmth, with relaxed openness and goodwill.” Barbara Fredrickson


  1. Fredrickson, Barbara. PhD., 2013, Love 2.0. Creating Happiness & Health in Moments of Connection, Plume, New York
  2. McTaggart, Lynne., 2017, The Power of Eight, Harnessing the Miraculous Energies of a Small Group to Heal Others, Your Life, and the World, Atria, Simon & Schuster Ltd, New York
  3. Numerous sites and apps relating to mental health and/or meditation contain a variety of free Loving-kindness, self-love/compassion meditations: including Insight Timer https://insighttimer.com/; and https://www.positivityresonance.com/meditations.html
  4. A leader in self-compassion research, Dr Kristin Neff, offers free resources to help us develop self-compassion, https://self-compassion.org/

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