How to Meditate for Peace + Compassion
Updated: Jun 12
Imagine if, instead of violence, there were only peace, silence, and calm voices to honor George Floyd and protest against the heart-wrenching way he lost his life, as well as all lives lost at the hand of discrimination and ignorance.
Instead of going outward at 9 pm, what if we all went inward, in total silence, to individually and collectively raise our vibes and to consciously lift each other and create change. What would that look like?
How can we help individuals who see only differences to see that we are all one and the same and that every single individual is a unique and special being whose life matters — no matter race, ethnicity, size, income level, background, or species. How can we create communities that are compassionate and look out for each other rather than walk away, thinking "it’s not my problem.”
My Kadampa meditation teacher recently taught a beautiful meditation on discovering compassion within and helping to foster compassion within others. It helps me to feel peace during times of social unrest, chaos, and violence and my hope is that it helps you too. Perhaps if we continue to feel more peace within we can, together, create positive change and help those that are frustrated, angry, and upset to channel those emotions through peace instead of violence.
The exercise below is an excerpt from Positive Psychology and is the same compassion meditation exercise my Kadampa mediation teacher taught a few weeks back. It involves consciously breathing in the suffering of others, and breathing out relief for that suffering to create universal unity, compassion and peace.
Find a comfortable position and begin to follow your breath and quiet the mind. After a few minutes or once you are relaxed, you can bring to mind a friend or loved one whom you know is experiencing emotional discomfort or suffering. Imagine that he or she is standing in front of you, and visualize their suffering as a dark, heavy cloud surrounding him or her.
Move your awareness to your heart area and breathe in deeply, imagining yourself inhaling those dark, heavy, uncomfortable, cloudy feelings, directly into your heart. As you breathe out from the heart area, imagine that your heart is a source of bright, warm, compassionate light, and you are breathing that light into the person who is suffering. Imagine that the dark feelings are disappearing without a trace into the light of your heart; the dark clouds transforming into a bright, warm light at the center of your heart, alleviating his or her suffering.
Next, try extending your compassion out to a stranger or general population that may be experiencing dark, heavy feelings at this moment. As you did for your loved one, imagine inhaling these cloudy, dark feelings away from those people into your own heart. As the dark feelings settle into your heart, imagine that they are disappearing without a trace into the light of your compassionate heart. You can imagine this person or people being enveloped by the calm and comforting light that you are breathing out from your heart.
Continue the above process of sending and receiving, but this time extend your compassion out to someone you find difficult to associate with. Tonglen can extend infinitely, and the more you practice, the more your compassion will expand naturally. You might be surprised to find that you are more tolerant and able to be there for people even in situations where it used to seem impossible.
Please share below ways you are peacefully trying to create positive change.