Instructions: One way to build compassion is to practice an ancient contemplative exercise to help us connect with others and remember our common humanity. The goal is to cultivate our inner compassion for others.
First, take a few deep breaths and slowly shift your focus to contemplating love and kindness toward someone special to you. You may imagine your loved one happy and healthy, finding peace in their life and work. Spend a few minutes imagining yourself radiating these feelings from your body toward wherever they may be.
Next, refocus your breathing and select someone in your life that you feel neutral about. This could be a neighbor, co-worker, or someone you don’t know well. Again, spend a few minutes wishing peace and warm feelings to this person.
Now select a person you actively dislike or maybe even despise. Refocus your breath to inhale and exhale more slowly. With each exhale, wish for the well-being, success, and peace toward this person you do not like. Reflect on your relationship with this person. What would it mean for this person to be happy and connected to others?
Finally, imagine a group of people in distress (i.e., migrants, mass shooting victims) or the entirety of humanity or sentient beings. Once again, continue to wish love and kindness to all people.
Time to Complete: 10-12 minutes