Loving-Kindness Meditation

Difficulty: Moderate | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 15 mins
(10 member ratings)

Time Required

15 minutes daily

How to Do It

This exercise draws on a guided meditation created by researcher Emma Seppala, Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education

We recommend listening to the audio of this guided meditation in the player below; you can also download it from Dr. Seppala’s website. We have included a script of the meditation to help you follow it yourself or teach it to others. 

Body Position

Close your eyes. Sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor and your spine straight. Relax your whole body. Keep your eyes closed throughout the whole visualization and bring your awareness inward. Without straining or concentrating, just relax and gently follow the instructions.

Take a deep breath in. And breathe out.

Receiving Loving-Kindness

Keeping your eyes closed, think of a person close to you who loves you very much. It could be someone from the past or the present; someone still in life or who has passed; it could be a spiritual teacher or guide. Imagine that person standing on your right side, sending you their love. That person is sending you wishes for your safety, for your well-being and happiness. Feel the warm wishes and love coming from that person towards you.

Now bring to mind the same person or another person who cherishes you deeply. Imagine that person standing on your left side, sending you wishes for your wellness, for your health and happiness. Feel the kindness and warmth coming to you from that person.

Now imagine that you are surrounded on all sides by all the people who love you and have loved you. Picture all of your friends and loved ones surrounding you. They are standing sending you wishes for your happiness, well-being, and health. Bask in the warm wishes and love coming from all sides. You are filled, and overflowing with warmth and love.

Sending Loving-Kindness to Loved Ones

Now bring your awareness back to the person standing on your right side. Begin to send the love that you feel back to that person. You and this person are similar. Just like you, this person wishes to be happy. Send all your love and warm wishes to that person.

Repeat the following phrases, silently:

May you live with ease, may you be happy, may you be free from pain. 

May you live with ease, may you be happy, may you be free from pain.

May you live with ease, may you be happy, may you be free from pain.

Now focus your awareness on the person standing on your left side. Begin to direct the love within you to that person. Send all your love and warmth to that person. That person and you are alike. Just like you, that person wishes to have a good life. 

Repeat the following phrases, silently:

Just as I wish to, may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you live with ease and happiness.

Just as I wish to, may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you live with ease and happiness.

Just as I wish to, may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you live with ease and happiness.

Now picture another person that you love, perhaps a relative or a friend. This person, like you, wishes to have a happy life. Send warm wishes to that person.

Repeat the following phrases, silently: 

May your life be filled with happiness, health, and well-being.

May your life be filled with happiness, health, and well-being.

May your life be filled with happiness, health, and well-being.

Sending Loving-Kindness to Neutral People

Now think of an acquaintance, someone you don’t know very well and toward whom you do not have any particular feeling. You and this person are alike in your wish to have a good life.

Send all your wishes for well-being to that person, repeating the following phrases, silently:

Just as I wish to, may you also live with ease and happiness.

Just as I wish to, may you also live with ease and happiness.

Just as I wish to, may you also live with ease and happiness.

Now bring to mind another acquaintance toward whom you feel neutral. It could be a neighbor, or a colleague, or someone else that you see around but do not know very well. Like you, this person wishes to experience joy and well-being in his or her life. 

Send all your good wishes to that person, repeating the following phrases, silently:

May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be free from all pain. 

May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be free from all pain. 

May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be free from all pain. 

Sending Loving-Kindness to All Living Beings

Now expand your awareness and picture the whole globe in front of you as a little ball. 

Send warm wishes to all living beings on the globe, who, like you, want to be happy:

Just as I wish to, may you live with ease, happiness, and good health. 

Just as I wish to, may you live with ease, happiness, and good health.

Just as I wish to, may you live with ease, happiness, and good health.

Take a deep breath in. And breathe out. And another deep breath in and let it go. Notice the state of your mind and how you feel after this meditation. 

When you’re ready, you may open your eyes. 

Difficulty: Moderate | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 15 mins
(10 member ratings)

Why You Should Try It

Practicing kindness is one of the most direct routes to happiness: Research suggests that kind people tend to be more satisfied with their relationships and with their lives in general. We all have a natural capacity for kindness, but sometimes we don’t take steps to nurture and express this capacity as much as we could. 

Loving-kindness meditation (sometimes called “metta” meditation) is a great way to cultivate our propensity for kindness. It involves mentally sending goodwill, kindness, and warmth towards others by silently repeating a series of mantras. 

Difficulty: Moderate | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 15 mins
(10 member ratings)

Evidence That It Works

Fredrickson, B. L., Cohn, M. A., Coffey, K. A., Pek, J., & Finkel, S. M. (2008). Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1045-1062.

People who practiced loving-kindness meditation daily for seven weeks reported a steady increase in their daily experience of positive emotions, such as joy, gratitude, contentment, hope, and love. They also reported greater life satisfaction and lower depressive symptoms following the intervention, compared to when they started. People who were on a waitlist to learn the practice didn't report these benefits. 

Other evidence for the effectiveness of this practice can be found on Dr. Emma Seppala’s website

Difficulty: Moderate | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 15 mins
(10 member ratings)

Why It Works

Loving-kindness meditation increases happiness in part by making people feel more connected to others—to loved ones, acquaintances, and even strangers. Research suggests that when people practice loving-kindness meditation regularly, they start automatically reacting more positively to others—and their social interactions and close relationships become more satisfying. Loving-kindness meditation can also reduce people’s focus on themselves—which can, in turn, lower symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

Difficulty: Moderate | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 15 mins
(10 member ratings)

Sources

Emma Seppala, Ph.D., Stanford University

Difficulty: Moderate | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 15 mins
(10 member ratings)

For More

Difficulty: Moderate | Frequency: 1x/day | Duration: 15 mins
(10 member ratings)

Loving-kindness meditation invites us to cultivate warm feelings of love and kindness toward increasingly distant people, and ultimately all living creatures. How concerned are you about your community, your fellow citizens, and all of mankind? Take the Connection to Humanity quiz to find out. 

Completion Status

Comments & Reviews

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  4. Elocin
    Elocin
    November 7, 2017

    This assumes you have someone in your life that loves you very much- useless for me

  5. bcrain107@gmail.com
    bcrain107@gmail.com
    July 12, 2017

    Very Good!

  6. Zie Mental Art
    Zie Mental Art
    June 18, 2017

    This really works to induce a calmer, and more loving disposition even in the face of a monster.

  7. beverly corso
    beverly corso
    April 28, 2017

    This is a beautiful practice, too bad that you at Berkeley don't practice what you preach. How you acted to Ann Coulter was a disgrace for a group of people who are supposed to live with love in your heart....Please take my name off your list! Beverly Corso beverlycorso778@gmail.com

  8. Ana Claudia Camargo Germani
    Ana Claudia Camargo Germani
    November 2, 2016

    Simple and powerful way to feel better!

  9. Ivana Miletic Demmel
    Ivana Miletic Demmel
    April 25, 2016

    Beautiful little practice! Managed to catch the essence of Metta in such a short time. I also really like that the phrases are changing so the words keep their meaning as opposed to becoming a mantra where through repetition you remain aware only on their melody.

  10. ng tengjie
    ng tengjie
    April 17, 2016

    I have been taught another variation by a buddhist monk which uses self-empathy if you can't thinking of a person whom you can receive lovingkindness from. In this case you send well-wishes to yourself with the following phrases: "May I live with ease, may I be happy, may I be free from pain."

  11. Anna Zaremba
    Anna Zaremba
    February 3, 2016

    IT'S GREAT. John, in Positive Psychology course an Coursera prof. Fredrikson give us only one - thre four statements mantra. I am not sure, I believe it was: may you be happy, may you be helthy, may you live with ease . You can chek it on the course grin

  12. John Karlsson
    John Karlsson
    February 3, 2016

    I find it difficult to memorize six mantras that are near identical and a combination of each other. Is there any difference in effectiveness if you use one or two similar mantras (equally many times as in this exercise of course) instead?

  13. DoHyeon Park
    DoHyeon Park
    December 13, 2015

    It`s very good.

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