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Loving Kindness Meditation

It's fair to say that it's been a bit of a heavy news week. Votes are being counted and the world waits to see whether global power will shift - or not. The UK went into national lockdown 2.0 and everywhere there are different opinions on whether that is right, necessary, or even obstructive. I don’t think the world has ever felt more divided. And I keep thinking about the practice of Loving Kindness Meditation.

Right now, taking a moment to connect to your breath and consciously send love to someone you actively dislike feels like a radical act. And that’s the climax of this practice.

You start either laying down or sitting in a comfortable meditation posture. Visualise yourself. A happy, fulfilled, glowing you. You at your absolute best. Think: ‘May I be well. May I be happy. May I be free from suffering.’ Chant this several times as you breathe evenly and continue to visualise the happy, glowing you.

Then move on to someone close to you, whom you love. Visualise them happy, fulfilled, glowing with health and vitality. Think: ‘May this person be well. May they be happy. May they be free from suffering.’ Focus on the image of them and repeat the chant several times.

Then repeat the process with a neutral person; someone you have no strong feelings about either way. Perhaps the person who serves you coffee or sells you your morning paper. Someone whose face you know, but who has no effect on your life one way or other.

Now repeat it with somebody you actively dislike. Someone who annoys you. Someone who wronged you, even. Someone who, just maybe, doesn’t even deserve your well wishes. Maybe it’s someone you know. Maybe it’s someone you’re hoping won’t be elected. Do it anyway. Feel the challenge. Notice the feelings it brings up. Wish this person well. They are also a human being. Be radical.

Release the practice and re-connect to your breath. Observe how you feel now. It will be different for everyone but it’s a very interesting process.

The Dalai Lama said 'If every 8-year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.' It might not be that simple, but I wish that world leaders had to do this practice every day, before they make the decisions that affect us all.

I wonder how different the world would be if they did.

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