Meditation for compassion

Note: I wrote this article shortly after the terrorist attacks in my hometown of Paris last November. LokahSamastah

In these dark times, it’s easy to let ourselves feed into panic, fear and anger. It’s important to take a step back. The recent events carry a message: our world is unwell, but we have the power to change it by centering ourselves on our capacity for human compassion.

We can practice a simple meditation to help us get back in touch with compassion. Beyond quieting the mind, it helps us send positive energy around us, and to those who are suffering. That is what our world needs: more love and more compassion to counter the anger, the hatred and the constant destruction happening at the very core of humanity. We are slowly forgetting these innate virtues, and the recent events are also there to remind us that we will never be able to change or help the world by continuing to fight one another…

According to French writer and Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard : « Compassion is the form that takes altruistic love when it is confronted to the suffering of another living being. For that to happen, we need to feel concerned by the fate of the other, be conscious of his or her suffering, wish that he or she be healed from it, and be ready to act in this way.  »



Find a comfortable seat.

Close your eyes, and direct your gaze internally towards your third eye in between your eyebrows. Listen to your natural breathing, feel your posture, and become aware of your body.

You can rub your palms together to warm them before placing them gently on your closed eyes, on your heart or on your belly.

Think of someone you love very much. And observe the sensations that begin to run through you. Perhaps it’s a sensation of warmth, an electric current pulsing through your veins, or even a color. Let yourself be penetrated by these sensations, by slowly releasing any tensions in your body and mind.

Send compassion to that same person, even if they are not currently suffering. Send them good, loving, and warm energies.

Slowly, begin to send that same energy to other people close to you : friends or family. And step by step, begin to broaden that circle of light, warmth and love to all who surround you : your neighbors, the people living in your street, in your neighborhood, your city or town, your country, your continent, and the entire world (yes even the mean and evil souls that may cause you suffering), making sure to include all forms of life, from plants and trees to animals and insects.

You can help your focus by repeating the mantra : « Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu », « May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all. » You can repeat this as long as needed.

Now observe the sensations within your body and mind, take a few deep breaths, and slowly begin to come back to your center before opening your eyes.

Try to practice this meditation outside of the mat as well, in your every day life : allow for compassion to have a greater place in your mind so that it can accompany you everywhere. This is the only way to counter the anger, hatred, and destruction that unfortunately often comes to shake us in more ways than one.