A 10-minute guided meditation on love shows us how to expand our love for our partner and family to a loving-kindness that embraces all beings.
Start off by finding yourself in a quiet corner of your home. You can sit down cross-legged on a cushion or flat-backed in a chair. Rest your hands palms-up in your lap. Tilt down your head and half-close your eyes.
A brief meditation on the breath
For a minute, bring all your attention to your breath: the air coming in and out of your nostrils, or the rise and fall of your abdomen. If other thoughts or feelings in your body or memories or plans intrude, just let them pass by. Without pushing them away and without pulling them forward, they disappear by themselves.
Meditate on Love for someone close to you
Now within your mind picture yourself resting on a cushion, at peace but with a body that is lighter, translucent; a you that is made of light with a sphere of light at your heart that is all your inner goodness, all your best qualities of kindness, openness, generosity, patience, humor, and joy. Qualities you learned from others, that were nurtured by your family and friends and teachers, but also qualities that you were born with, that are natural to you when you’re not overwhelmed or stressed or in pain.
In front of you, picture someone that you love dearly. Ideally this is someone that your feelings are less complicated toward, simpler and purer. For some, the love for a child or for a pet might be easier than the love for a partner or a parent. Take a moment to choose this person or creature for whom your love flows effortlessly and picture them before you now: alive, breathing, happy, smiling.
Notice how this love makes you feel. It’s wonderful to feel genuine affection. These feelings crowd out other more anxious or selfish thoughts. Simply recalling our love for another is a natural way to feel good anytime we want to.
And imagine how nice it is to be that one in front of you. How wonderful it is to be loved and cared for unconditionally; to have even our faults accepted, to be loved for all we are.
Feel that love and the gratitude for being loved exchanging between you and the one in front of you as a beam of light that connects your hearts, one that is inexhaustible, your love made visible in your mind.
Meditate on love for everyone close to you
Now let other people who are close to you appear surrounding that first loved-one. Let your feelings of love, and love as that material light from your heart spread out to them all and rest in that for a moment.
Meditating on love for strangers
Expanding our love, now let a vast ring of strangers surround those that you know so that they fan out for miles around you: the billions of people on earth. Feel in your heart how they each want and deserve affection. And imagine that, if you could, of course you would give it to them.
Bring this wish to life by visualizing billions of light rays going out from your heart to theirs, offering them your affection and care and also material things, safety, security, friends, loved ones too.
Meditating on love for enemies
And then finally, in front of you, imagine the people you have difficult with: the people you know who have cause you pain and the broader set of people in the world that you know of that are causing pain and problems for you or people you care about. Think how these people also fundamentally want to be happy, how they want affection and approval. And how maybe if they got it, they’d stop bothering you and everyone else.
If you can, now imagine also offering your enemies happiness and all its causes: the material things they need along with friends and affection and peace of mind, mental stability, a warm heart.
Bringing your love meditation into daily life
And now let this huge crowd of people and the light rays of your loving-kindness dissolve into diffuse white light. Let your body return to awareness of itself and the room around you.
See if you can maintain this expansive feeling of wishing all beings to be happy as you open your eyes. Take a deep breath in, and as you come off your cushion, carry this expansive feeling of kindness and affection with you into your day.