In Buddhism, there are “Four immeasurables” — divine dwellings or perfect virtues that Buddha taught his monks to encourage and cultivate through meditation. These are loving kindness, equanimity, appreciation, and compassion.
Out of this four, compassion, also known as Karuna among Buddhists, is probably the most difficult mental state to develop. Compassion comes from truly understanding others, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and walking a mile in them. And most of the time, it’s not an easy thing to do.
In addition, only a thin line separates compassion from emotions such as sorrow, pity, and resentment. If you’re not careful, these emotions can work their way into your state of mind and dampen your well-being.
However, compassion meditation is just as important and vital as the rest. Here’s how you can do it safely.
Prepare yourself. Strengthen your connection to the three other divine states first. It will deepen and develop your sincerity towards others. Spend time learning the rest and compassion will come naturally later on.
Moreover, the compassion you’ll have for others will be a reflection of the compassion you have for yourself. So it’s best to be a “bigger and better” person first.
Set aside time to be alone. Find a quiet place and choose a position you’ll be most comfortable in. Be aware of your body and release all the tension you feel, may it be physical or mental. Take your time and let your focus and awareness build.
Think about a person or a situation you felt sorry for. Ruminate about what had happened and allow empathy to manifest and direct you. Focus only on the aspects you feel genuinely sincere about.
Next, start wishing them well. In your mind, send them healing and peaceful vibrations with words such as “May you recover from your loss soon” or “May you heal and recover faster“. Mean what you say inside your head and truly feel for them.
But if thoughts or judgement enters your mind, don’t let it affect you. Just return to the reason why you sincerely feel compassion towards the object of your meditation.
Also, loosen your grasp on distracting and hindering emotions such as hostility, sorrow, frustrations, desires, and coldness. Whether you feel them towards people you know or yourself, let them go. Focus on the compassion you feel and let it take over your awareness.
After ending your meditation, stay compassionate throughout the day. Continue finding reasons to be kind and sympathetic. It will develop your mind and strengthen “Karuna”, the 4th divine dwelling in your life, and allow you to be more understanding, forgiving and tolerant.