Loving-Kindness Meditation for Compassion and Well-being
Wishing peace and goodwill to all isn’t a concept you need to reserve for the holidays. This easy mindfulness meditation called Loving-Kindness can give you the warm fuzzies all over, all year long.
What is Loving-Kindness?
Meditation may sound hard but there is a super simple way to get started: love and kindness.
Loving-kindness refers to a state of unconditional kindness and compassion for all beings. This concept is found in many religions and cultures around the world, and the tradition spans a few thousand years.
What’s the big deal? Some studies suggest you can boost your empathy1 and feelings of connection2 and reduce your implicit bias3, anger, depression and anxiety.4
How does it work?
You start with yourself and expand your circles of compassion outward. Here are the basics:
- You: Think about yourself. Direct your kindness to yourself with a phrase like, “May I be happy.”
- Someone really close: Think about someone you love. Direct your kindness to that person, “May you be happy.”
- Someone neutral: Think about someone you feel neutral about, like a coworker you really don’t like or dislike. Direct your kindness to this person, “May you be happy.”
- Someone hostile: Think about someone you have a tough time being around. Direct your kindness to this person, “May you be happy.”
- Bundle: Think about all of these people together, and equally direct your kindness to all of them.
- Expand: Finally direct your kindness everywhere, “May all beings everywhere be happy.”
You get the idea. Make it more your style, with a different phrase like, “May I be at peace,” or “May I be safe,” or stack phrases together to expand the notion. To get more practice, search for a loving kindness meditation video and find your favorite version.
Tonight before you drift off, take a moment to wish yourself some well-deserved peace. Let’s do this, and be Healthy for Good!
Last reviewed September 2017.
1Klimecki, O., Leiberg, S., Lamm, C. & Singer, T. (2012) Functional Neural Plasticity and Associated Changes in Positive Affect After Compassion Training. Cerebral Cortex. DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhs142
2Hutcherson, C., Seppala, E., & Gross, J. (Vol. 8, No. 5, 2008) Loving-Kindness Meditation Increases Social Connectedness. Emotion, a Journal of the American Psychological Association. DOI: 10.1037/a0013237
3Kang, Y., Gray, J. R., & Dovidio, J. F. (2013) The Nondiscriminating Heart: Lovingkindness Meditation Training Decreases Implicit Intergroup Bias. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. DOI: 10.1037/a0034150
4Hofmann, S., Grossman, P. & Hinton, D. (Vol. 31, Issue 7, November 2011) Loving-kindness and compassion meditation: Potential for psychological interventions. Clinical Psychology Review. DOI: 10.1016/j.cpr.2011.07.003