Getting seated:

Find a comfortable seated position in a chair, on the floor, on the sofa. The most important thing is that you find a position in which you feel alert and the chances of you drifting off to sleep are minimal. For the practice of loving kindness you can keep your eyes open or closed—the choice is yours—with the understanding that our goal is to remain awake, as best we can.

Noticing the breath:

Once you find that position, begin by simply taking a breath—with awareness. Not trying to change the breath or fix it in some way, just being fully present with the full duration of the inbreath and the full duration of the outbreath. You may notice it most strongly in the nose and the throat. Some people notice the breath in the chest or the belly. Wherever the breath is most alive for you, just allow yourself to rest your awareness there. If your mind wanders away from the breath, which it is prone to do, then, without judgment, just simply bring yourself back to the next natural inhalation or exhalation.

Finding our heart center:

And now, very gently, allow your awareness to move from your breath to your heart center. Into that place, right there, in the middle of the chest. Not as much the physical heart but that place where we tend to feel warm emotions. If you would like to do so, sometimes people find it helpful to gently place their open hand over the location of their physical heart as this can help facilitate the practice. As best you can, try and find a memory or feeling sense of a time when you experienced a strong sense of loving kindness, either from someone or toward someone. It might have been the first day you met your life partner; the day a child or grandchild was born; it might have even been a particular afternoon with your favorite pet, or a time when you felt warm appreciation after helping or being helped by someone. The idea is not to find the perfect experience or image, nor should you be concerned if you find yourself thinking of many different events or experiences. The idea is—as best you can—to re-create the warm, tender, or positive feelings associated with prior experiences of loving kindness, and to allow these feelings to grow in your heart center. For just a moment, allow these feelings to grow.

Sending loving kindness to a person we care about:

And now, in your mind’s eye, gently bring into focus an image of someone you care about, a person you already have existing warm feelings for, may feel love toward, or may feel a sense of positive connection with. It doesn’t have to be a perfect relationship or one without conflict—the idea is to find an image or feeling sense of someone you know whom you already have warm feelings for. As best you can, hold this image or a feeling sense of this person in your heart center. And now, from the feelings of loving kindness in the center of your chest, extend warm wishes to this person you care about. Using these phrases, silently repeat to yourself…

May this person be at ease. May they be content with their life. May they be joyful. May they feel safe and secure.

Again, extending warm wishes of loving kindness to this person you care about…

May they be at ease. May they be content with their life. May they be joyful. May they feel safe and secure.

And again, from the source of loving kindness in your own heart, extending well wishes to this person you already care for…

May this person be at ease. May they be content with their life. May they experience joy. And may they feel safe and secure.

And now, gradually allow the image or feeling sense of this person you care for to gently dissolve from your mind’s eye, resting your attention back in your heart center, back into those feelings of warm loving kindness—as best you can.

Sending loving kindness to a person we feel neutral about:

Bring to mind an image of someone who you don’t really know, who you’ve at least seen once but don’t feel any connection with one way or another. It could be your postman, or a supermarket clerk you’ve seen, or someone else of that sort. And again, as best you can, from your own heart, extending warm wishes of loving kindness toward this person you hardly know about, saying silently…

May this person be at ease. May they be content with their life. May they be joyful. May they feel safe and secure.

Again, extending warm wishes of loving kindness to this person you hardly know at all…

May they be at ease. May they be content with their life. May they be joyful. May they feel safe and secure.

And again, from the source of loving kindness in your own heart, extending well wishes to this person you barely know…

May this person be at ease. That they be content with their life. That they be joyful. That they feel safe and secure.

And now, with warm loving care, gently turn your attention back to the sensations of your breath and your heart center, allowing the image or feeling sense of this person you hardly know to be released—allowing yourself to rest here, in this moment, with your feelings of warmth and kindness. Remembering that you can carry with you throughout your day these warm feelings of love and kindness that you were able to generate, knowing that you can always find your heart center when needed and making a kindhearted commitment to integrate this practice of loving kindness into your life, as best you can. And when you are ready, you can open your eyes and bring your attention back into the room.

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