Compassion, or a love and cherishing of others, sometimes described as a universal, non-discriminating love, is perhaps the most widely shared value among the world’s major religions. Whether one uses language of agapic love, universal compassion, or something else, the aim is a self-sacrificial love that desires the well-being of the other regardless of their behavior toward us.
Various things interfere with our ability to love and cherish others and meditation is one of the things that can help us to grow into a greater universal compassion
Loving-kindness meditation, or metta bhavana as it is called in Pali, is one method of developing compassion. Although the meditation comes from the Buddhist tradition, it can be adapted and practiced by anyone, regardless of his or her religious affiliation or even lack of any religious affiliation. The aim of the meditation is to develop unconditional, inclusive love and acceptance of all living beings. It uses words, images, and feelings to evoke a lovingkindness and friendliness toward oneself and others.
I lead guided loving-kindness meditations every Thursday morning at the University of St. Thomas in our interfaith prayer space on the St. Paul campus. (Loving-kindness is also one of the meditations we practice in our Wednesday meditation sessions on the Minneapolis campus.) Having posted a podcast of a mindfulness meditation yesterday morning, I thought I would post a guided lovingkindness meditation today.
You can access a recording of the session here or stream it from the icon below. The guided meditation runs for about thirty minutes.