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Well Wishing: A Compassion Meditation

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This meditation is designed to cultivate compassion, directing inwards toward yourself for healing, and also outwards towards others. It is a really nice one to do, and it is one of the best I know for effecting real personal transformation.

I always like to begin with a short relaxation exercise to help clear and focus the mind. Any one will do, so if you already have a favourite relaxation exercise you can use that, otherwise here is the one which I use:

Begin by focusing your awareness on the contact between your body and whatever is supporting it, like the chair underneath you, and perhaps the floor beneath your feet. Take three deep breaths, and each time you exhale feel your weight sinking down into the chair and the floor (or whatever it is you are on). Relax your body as you let go of its weight. Now expand your awareness to include the contact between different parts of your body. Your hands may be resting on your knees, your toes and fingers touching, your cheeks touching your gums and teeth, and so on. Again take three breaths and relax your body. Expand your awareness again to include the contact between your body and your clothes, and the air around you. Again take three deep breaths and relax. You will now be ready for the main meditation.

Silently repeat to yourself over and over again: ‘I wish myself well, I wish myself healthy and at ease’. We do not often allow ourselves to feel compassion towards ourselves, but that is exactly what you should try to do as you continue to repeat the above phrase over and over. It should be almost as if you were another person, outside of yourself looking in, quite apart from your ordinary desires, problems, ambitions, stresses, loves etc., but seeing them and feeling compassion towards yourself.

After a while, holding on to this feeling of compassion, feel it expand to include your closest friends, family and loved ones. At this point you should be silently repeating ‘I wish them well, I wish them healthy and at ease’, but you should still be including yourself in ‘them’.

After a while longer you should expand this again to include everyone you know. When your mind turns to a person who you are in conflict with in some way, or who you do not like or get along well with, try to understand where they are coming from, to empathize with their position even if you disagree with it vehemently, and to feel only compassion towards them, at least for that one instant.

Finally you should expand this once again to include the whole world, all the people within it, and perhaps even the biosphere of the earth itself, and all of the life it contains.

When you are ready to finish you should refocus your attention back towards yourself, and simply remain in position for a few moments, allowing yourself to feel the compassion that you have cultivated during the meditation, and thinking about how you can take this feeling forward into your life.

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