Sometimes, I have a loving-kindness meditation routine that I follow during my five minutes of meditation in the morning. This was a meditation routine I cobbled together from a few different things I’d read over the past couple of years, and it’s helped me become centered and focused quickly in the mornings while promoting that feeling of loving-kindness towards myself and others.
This is how the routine usually goes:
I use a meditation timer app on my iPhone to lead myself into the meditation. I relax and get comfortable, and then I hear a little chime and begin to breathe deeply. As I breathe deeply, I say this silently in my head:
“[Goddess/God/Universe/Powers That Be/St. Francis/etc.] grant me the grace to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
This helps center me for the rest of my meditation.
For the next step, I spend 2-3 deep breaths focusing on my own self, and carrying myself within the grace and light of loving-kindness. Often this involves picturing being surrounded by a white light.
Then, I spend 2-3 deep breaths focusing on Thomas and Aisling, carrying those closest to me within the grace and light of loving-kindness. I picture both of them surrounded by the same soft light.
After that, I spend 2-3 deep breaths focusing on my family, carrying them within the grace and light of loving-kindness. I picture their faces and see them surrounded by light.
Next, I spend 2-3 deep breaths focusing on my friends, carrying them within the grace and light of loving-kindness. I see them surrounded by light, as well.
Then, I spend 2-3 deep breaths focusing on my acquaintances, carrying them within the grace and light of loving-kindness. I know it sounds silly, but often for this step I’ll picture my Twitter and Facebook friends surrounded by a soft light.
After that, I spend 2-3 deep breaths focusing on my coworkers, carrying them within the grace and light of loving-kindness.
Finally, I spend 2-3 deep breaths focusing on those I have difficulties with. I imagine someone I feel like I carry a grudge about, and then I bathe that person in the same light of loving-kindness.
If I still have time, I’ll try to extend my circle of loving-kindness outward at this point. I’ll imagine all of Knoxville bathed in loving-kindness, then all of Tennessee, then all of the United States, then the continent of North America, then the entire Earth, then outwards to fill the whole universe. This particular step is often difficult to maintain, though when I do manage to extend that circle outward I feel especially refreshed, energized, and connected.
The meditation timer will then chime again three times, to gently bring me to a close on my meditation. It will count down 30 seconds, and then I take one more deep breath after the final chime, and bow slightly, grateful to all those in my life and in the world.
I don’t do this particular form of meditation every morning, but on the mornings I go through these steps, I often feel very warm, comforted, and connected. This morning, however, I noticed something interesting. When I got to the part where I wanted to send loving-kindness to people I had difficulty with, I could no longer think of someone. I’ve had a few people I’ve put into this category over the years, but this morning, it no longer felt right for those people to be in that category. My go-to “difficult people” have moved on. I feel comfortable in my interactions with those people, and there is no longer any difficulty in those relationships. It was a really wonderful feeling, and I can’t help but think that focusing so much loving-kindness on those situations during meditation had to help at some small level.
Meditation is wonderful for several different reasons, but I really love the idea that one of those reasons is because it helps to work through and deal with difficult relationships and confrontations that come up in people’s lives.