Life is a mixture of so many different things.
Sometimes it’s great- peaceful, joyful, and quiet- other times it’s crazy, hectic, overwhelming, or even downright brutal.
If we ever hope to find peace & happiness and learn how to better manage ourselves during difficult situations, we need a daily practice which nourishes our mind and brings us back to “center”.
For millions of people around the world, this is the practice of meditation.
There’s many different forms of meditation, all with essentially the same purpose, but some with slightly different approaches.
Loving-kindness meditation, or LKM for short (also sometimes just called meditating on compassion or love), is a form of meditation that emphasizes cultivating love and compassion for all beings, including yourself.
For this reason, LKM is especially great for improving your relationship with yourself as well as with others in your life. This is something everyone needs to work on, but if this is something you especially need to put time into I’d suggest trying this out as your daily meditation practice for a few weeks at least.
LKM is a formal meditation practice (which you can read about here), but I’ve also adapted an “everyday” version of the practice for use when you’re out and about and encounter difficult situations within yourself or between another.
Sometimes, when things get rough, all we truly need to do is to turn our attention inward and focus on ourselves for a moment. And this is where this simple meditation really shines.
To practice “Everyday LKM”, follow these simple instructions (3-4 minutes total):
Before you start, ask yourself: is this an internal challenge (dealing only with me), or an internal-external challenge (a problem which has to do with me + others)? I’ll explain why in a bit.
1. Calm (1 minute). Whatever the challenge, the first thing you should do is to take a second to calm yourself. Become aware of your breathing for a few seconds (10-15 at most) and then repeat this mantra to yourself for no more than a minute: “Be happy. Be at peace."
2. Generate love (1 minute). Next, imagine a close friend, family member, or mentor/teacher which you have a great deal of love (and preferably respect, if possible) for. Keep an image of them in your mind for a minute or 2 and imagine those feelings of love and compassion for the person swelling up as high as they will go.
3. Send love to yourself (1 minute). Now, imagine transferring those feelings of love and compassion for the person over to yourself. After doing so for a moment, you can repeat this mantra to yourself: “Be kind. Be compassionate. Be loving.” Imagine transferring those feelings to yourself.
If this is an internal challenge, stop here. If this is an internal-external challenge, do step 5:
4. Send love to the other (1 minute). Lastly, do the exact same thing as in the last step except send those feelings of love from yourself to the person who you’ve conflicted with (whether directly or mentally, such as when you notice having envy or jealousy for another).
I’ve kept the practice period for the meditation very short so that it’s extremely easy and convenient to practice within your everyday life, but you can lengthen each section if you’d like to practice longer.
When to use Everyday LKM
When is Everyday LKM useful? Its usefulness is endless, but here are some great examples of ways you can use this simple meditation to bring peace and balance to your daily life and help overcome daily challenges, both internal and external:
- You were fired from your job, failed an exam, or didn’t make the cut. Practice sending compassion and love to yourself and remind yourself not only that you’re human, but that things can’t always work out how you imagine them (which doesn’t mean this is bad- you never know what’s around the corner).
- You had a bad fight with a friend or family member. This is not only difficult for both people internally but creates a lot of external tension. By meditation on love and compassion, you can forgive yourself, the other person, and encourage yourself to apologize, which more often than not leads the other person to open up and apologize as well. And this is very healing.
- An expectation wasn’t met, however small. In everyday life, we fill ourselves up with expectations. This includes everything big and small from how the next year of our lives will go to whether our dog will pee on the bed again or not. By learning to identify this expectation as well as send love and compassion to yourself and anyone else involved, we can help dissolve the pain of the situation into peace.
There are so many examples of ways you can use Everyday LKM to help you overcome personal challenges, challenges with others, and other challenges dealing with the unfolding of everyday events.
I know everyday life can be very difficult at times. But, if you take the time and dedicate yourself to a regular meditation practice which suits your style of practice, you’ll considerably improve your ability to navigate those daily challenges and come away with greater peace and happiness as a result.
Take a little time each day to send love and compassion to yourself and see how things change for the better.
*You can learn more about love as a path of meditation and spirituality here.
*For more information on Loving-Kindness meditation as a formal meditation practice, click here.