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Compassion Meditation

flowersThe human heart has the extraordinary capacity to hold and transform the sorrows of life into a great stream of compassion. Compassion is the movement of concern and kindness in response to the difficulty of any living being. Compassion arises when you allow your heart to be touched by the pain and need of another.To cultivate compassion, let your self sit still in a centered and quiet way. Breathe softly and feel your body, your heartbeat, the life within you. Feel how you treasure your own life, how you guard yourself in the face of sorrows. After some time, bring to mind someone close to you whom you dearly love. Picture them and feel your caring for them. Notice how you can hold them in your heart. Then let yourself be aware of their sorrows, their measure of suffering in life. Feel how your heart opens naturally, moving toward them to wish them well, to extend comfort, to share in their pain and meet in with compassion.This is the natural response of the heart. Along with this response, begin to wish them well, reciting the phrases, May you be free from pain and sorrow, may you be at peace, while holding them in your heart of compassion.After you learn to feel your deep caring for this person close to you, turn your compassionate heart toward yourself. For a time recite the phrases, May I be free of pain and sorrow, may I be at peace. Then, one person at a time, extend your compassion to others you know. Picture your loved ones, one at a time. Hold the image of each in your heart and be aware of their difficulties and wish them well. May you be free from pain and sorrow, may you be at peace. After this you can gradually open your compassion further, to neighbors, and all those who live far away, and finally to the brotherhood and sisterhood of all beings.Let yourself feel how the beauty of every being brings you joy and how the suffering of any being makes you weep. Feel your tenderhearted connection with all life and its creatures, how it moves with their sorrows and holds them in compassion.Now let your heart become a transformer for the sorrows of the world. Feel your breath in the area of your heart, as if you could breathe gently in and our of your heart. Feel the kindness of your heart and envision that with each breath you can touch the pain of others and breathe out compassion. With each out-breath wish all living being well, extend your caring and merciful heart to them. After some time, sit quietly and let your breath and heart rest naturally as a center of compassion in the midst of the world.~Jack Kornfield, "Buddha's Little Instruction Book"

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The Path of the Bodhisattva by Pema Chodron