Buddhism has a very powerful meditation called Metta Bhavana or “Development of Compassion” which is an excellent exercise in developing loving kindest or friendship.
Recent studies have suggested that regulate Metta practice can have positive effects on both your physical health and your mental well being.
How To Do It
There are six stages to the traditional Metta Bhavana, spend a few minutes on each stage, in order. To help you keep time you can use a stopwatch, countdown timer, or fancy meditation app for your smartphone.
To learn more about the basics of meditation, read my ebook here.
You cannot have compassion for everyone else without having compassion for yourself. If you are full of self loathing you cannot help but to project that outwards. To be be truly compassionate you must accept yourself fully.
2. A Good Friend
Think of a good friend, imagine those feeling of friendship you have towards them, focus on sending them your loving kindest and compassion.
3. A “Neutral” Person
Take someone who you don’t really have any feelings for, a neutral person, and project those feelings of loving kindest onto them.
4. A Difficult Person
This is where you may waiver! Think of someone you personally know who you do not like, notice where those thoughts and feelings come from and what memories come to mind. Now imagine that person as a friend, project those same feelings towards them, notice how your feelings towards this person slowly changes.
5. All Four of the Above Equally
Focus on all four people and feeling that loving kindest equally for each one, so one has no more feeling of compassion towards one than the other.
6. And Then Gradually The Entire Universe
Expand this feeling of compassion to all the people on our planet, all living things and as far out into the universe as you can imagine. See yourself as part of an intricate and complex system, not an individual but interconnected.
Remember, don’t leave this feeling on the meditation mat! That is just practice for being compassionate in the real world!