Lovingkindness by Joan Halifax


This is about, actually, tremendous dignity.

Our capacity to uphold ourselves in every situation.

As courage.



So you might consider coming off the back of your seats.

And joining me in a kind of embodiment of strength and dignity.

Real physical engagement.


And we’ll work with the posture a little bit but I’d like us to begin in a very direct way.

Which is — cultivating the quality of compassion that becomes this base note, if you will, of our meditation.


And we just remember, really, why we’re here.

And it is to be a benefit to others.

And to move away from the self-referencing.

Into a state of natural unselfishness.


And we can use a very simple method to do this — which is, to contemplate a being whose really suffering.

It could be a human being, a parent, a child, a grandmother who is really sick.

It could be a creature.


It could be a natural system — like the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida — now being contaminated by oil.

The kind of incense of the modern world.

And the insanity of the modern world.

Maybe take in the feeling of creatures, or what was a pristine beach, or the shrimper.


Whatever that feeling is.

This may perhaps, horror, as an ecosystem goes down.

Yet another one.


Or maybe that feels distant for you.


Find some being where you really have a connect.

Or some place where there’s a real sense of connection.

And where that being could use well-being.


And see if in spite of the kind of tenor of our world where there is so much cynicism.

And skepticism.

If you can drop into a place that is deeper than that superficial level of the personality.


Moving into a place where you can really touch your own natural compassion.

Your own feeling for other beings and things that are under siege.


And actualizing that sensibility that there is no self and there is no other.


And if you will, on your next in-breath, whatever form of ill-being that you have allowed yourself to contemplate if only for a moment.

Even if it is your resistance, on the in-breath, take it in.

On the in-breath, take it in. Fully.

And on the exhale, give it space, let it be.


So the in-breath is a breath of really deep acceptance.

And the exhale is a kind of grandmother’s heart.

“Oh yes, I’m here for you.”


And notice if there’s resistance.

And if so, just breathe it in.

It’s not a matter of letting go. It’s more — being present for it.

Like “Ma, I don’t really want to do this.”

Accept that.

Give it space — on the exhale.


And if there is a sense of Maitree — of lovingkindness, compassion.

Let that sensibility actually perfume your awareness.


And very gently but firmly move your attention back to your feet.

And see if you can engender the mental quality of groundedness.

And shift your attention now to your back.

And see if you will lift it off the back of your chair.


And that sensibility that you’re cultivating in the mental continuum is of strength.

Your capacity to uphold yourself in the midst of any conditions.

Strong back.


And let the breath be deep in the body.

Not just the inhale but the exhale.

Let it be long and strong.



And moving your attention now to the front part of your body.

The back being strong.

Associated with the quality of equanimity, of balance in the front part.

Soft, open, and associated with the mental quality of compassion.

That capacity — to really be tender, open, permeable, inclusive.


And the pairing of strong back, soft front.

Equanimity, compassion.


Now move your attention firmly and gently.

Another pairing — firm and gentle.

Onto the breath body.


And notice whether the breath is long or whether it’s short.

And notice whether the breath body is deep or is it shallow.

And is the breath smooth or is it uneven?


And just see if you can keep your attention anchored int he breath for a few inhales and exhales.

Noticing whether the breath is long or short.

Deep or shallow.

Smooth or uneven.

And with that judgement, keep it really simple.


And then concluding the meditation.

Very simply whatever good that has arisen for you in just these few moments we’ve had together.

Please offer it to other beings.

Thank you so much.