In honor of Valentine’s Day, today we’re sharing a practice for growing unconditional love.
Unconditional love is pure love - it does not desire to possess or judge, and it is unrestricted in its scope, starting from oneself then expanding outward to include all living beings.
Cultivating unconditional love in our hearts can be a powerful grounding for how we choose to relate to others in our day to day lives and in our work to effect social change.
Take some time to find a quiet place and get into a comfortable position. Draw your attention to your chest area, your “heart center”.
Breathe in and out from that area, as if you are breathing from the heart center and as if all experience is happening from there. Anchor your mindfulness only on the sensations at your heart center.
Breathing in and out from here, begin by generating a kind feeling toward yourself. Use either these traditional phrases or ones you choose yourself. Say or think them twice.
May I be full of loving kindness,
May I be healthy and free of physical pain,
May I be calm, and relaxed, and without fear,
May I be happy, content, and really free.
Next, move to a person who easily invites the feeling of pure unconditional love, someone who has taken care of you. Repeat the phrases for this person: “May she be full of loving kindness….”
Next, move to a person you regard as a dear friend and repeat the phrases again, breathing in and out of your heart center.
Now move to a neutral person, someone for whom you feel neither strong like nor dislike. As you repeat the phrases, allow yourself to feel tenderness, loving care for their welfare.
Now move to someone you have hostile feelings / resentment for. Repeat the phrases for this person. If you begin to feel ill will toward this person, return to the benefactor and let the loving kindness arise again. Then return to this person.
Let the phrases spread through your whole body, mind, and heart.
After the difficult person, radiate loving kindness out to all beings.
May all living beings be full of loving kindness,
May all living beings be healthy and free of physical pain,
May all living beings be calm, and relaxed, and without fear,
May all living beings be happy, content, and really free.
Allow the phrases to be simply a conduit for the force of loving-kindness. Empower your imagination to touch the hearts of all forms of life in the universe, unconditionally and inclusively. Stay with all beings until you feel a personal sense of the profound interconnectedness of all creatures, all life.
When finished, pause to notice how you feel now. You can let this feeling take you into whatever today brings, and share your experience with us. Thanks for your practice, and Happy Valentine’s Day!
With love and light,
*Thanks to the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society for this practice.