CHESED LOVING KINDNESS MEDITATION
The Lord passed in front of [Moses] and proclaimed: The Lord God is merciful and gracious, long suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, and sustains mercy for the multitudes, constantly forgiving iniquity and transgressions...Exodus 34:7
Forgiveness-asking for it and giving it-is a basic Jewish practice. On the High Holy Days, Jews perform rituals and prayers that beg God for forgiveness for acts between ourselves and others as well as between ourselves and the Source of Life. This act of contrition has a deep healing effect and is used in many traditions. The following meditation has extraordinary power to heal psychic wounds, release negative energies, and bring a new sense of inner peace. In Buddhist tradition, this is called a metta (friendship) meditation. In Judaism, it could be called the chesed (loving kindness) meditation.
This is an excellent meditation to use late at night, just before going to sleep. It is one of the few meditations that is actually recommended for doing in bed, as it is a wonderful way to fall asleep. Read over the following guidelines a few times so that you understand the sequence of the meditation and have it roughly memorized. (Obviously, if doing this in bed, you will want to follow the meditation on your own without referring to the book.)
1. Assume a comfortable, relaxed position. If lying down, do not assume your normal sleeping pose. If you usually sleep on your side or stomach, then do this meditation on your back, or vice versa.
2. Notice the movement of your chest as it rises and falls with your breath. Allow yourself to reflect on the events of the previous week.
3. If an event arises in which you realize you have acted unskillfully, or in which someone else may have hurt your feelings, allow that to be a focus of your meditation. If nothing specific arises, then this meditation will be more general.
4. Think to yourself. If I have harmed anyone or anything, directly or indirectly, intentionally or unconsciously, I ask for forgiveness. Allow images to arise of the previous week, or of any time in your life, and visualize asking for forgiveness.
5. Now think to yourself. If anyone has harmed me, directly or indirectly, intentionally or unconsciously, I offer you my forgiveness. Once again, allow images to arise for the previous week or any time in your life, and visualize offering forgiveness to the best of your ability.
6. Think to yourself. May I be happy. (Imagine special, happy moments in your life.) May I be peaceful. (Imagine peaceful moments in your life.) May I be free. (Imagine moments of freedom in your life.) Happiness, peacefulness, and freedom often are used for this exercise; however, you may select any three attributes with which you wish to resonate, for example, loving kindness, serenity, grace, wisdom, gentleness, etc.
7. Think of someone you dearly love and visualize this person as clearly as you can. Think to yourself: Just as I wish to be happy, may you be happy. Just as I wish to be peaceful, may you be peaceful. Just as I wish to be free, may you be free. Each time you mention a quality, remember your own life experiences with that quality. It is very important to not simply say the words, but to actually visualize and feel the experience.
8. Think of someone about whom you do not have strong feelings and repeat the phrase for #7. (Just as I wish to be happy..., etc.)
9. Visualize someone about whom you have negative feelings and once again repeat #7. You can repeat this over and over with different individuals for as long as you wish.
10. Visualize people in your local community and repeat #7 for each individual you can bring into your awareness.
11. Visualize a broad segment of people as a group, any category you wish, such as all of a selected minority; all who suffer from cancer, all who are hungry, all who are in pain, and end with a general prayer to all of them: May you be happy, may you be peaceful, may you be free.
12. Let your prayers extend out to the farthest reaches of the universe, to the limits of your imagination: May all beings be happy, may all beings be peaceful, may all beings be free.
If lying in bed, at some point in the meditation you will know that it is time to assume your normal sleeping pose. You will find that this process done regularly will have highly positive effects on your sleep and on your general sense of wellbeing. This meditation has no limits on the amount of time you can use it, or where, or when. It is always beneficial.
For anyone taking a oneday retreat, this is a marvelous way to complete the day, to nourish your soul with light and love, and to experience the healing that comes through sending your love and goodwill throughout the universe.