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Expert GuidanceLoving Kindness

Loving Kindness

How visualizing other people's happiness can help us to uncover a more compassionate mind.

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When practicing loving kindness, we use a very particular type of visualization. Rather than living with resentment towards others, we're training the mind to let go of any hostility, to let go of any anger and instead be present with unconditional kindness. We do this by visualizing different people in different scenarios. Sometimes someone that we know, sometimes someone that we don't know, sometimes people we like, sometimes people we don't like, and we're focusing on that person being happy. It may sound easy, but it requires a lot of practice especially when we're focusing on someone we're really mad at. Then we may think, well yeah, but does it really make a difference to the other person? If it does, then that's wonderful. But this is about cultivating love and kindness in our own mind. And in the process of focusing more on the happiness of others, rashly letting go of many of the things that cause unhappiness in our own mind. So whether it's in a peace or outer peace that we're looking for, loving kindness is a great place to begin....


TypeExpert Guidance
Duration<1 min

About your teachers

  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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  • Eve is a mindfulness teacher, overseeing Headspace’s meditation curriculum. She is passionate about sharing meditation to help others feel less stressed and experience more compassion in their lives.

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  • As a meditation teacher, Dora encourages others to live, breathe, and be with the fullness of their experiences. She loves meditation’s power to create community and bring clarity to people’s minds.

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  • Kessonga has been an acupuncturists, therapist, and meditation teacher, working to bring mindfulness to the diverse populations of the world.

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  • Rosie Acosta has studied yoga and mindfulness for more than 20 years and taught for over a decade. Rosie’s mission is to help others overcome adversity and experience radical love.

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Frequently asked questions

  • In a loving kindness meditation (also known as a meditation for compassion), you usually bring to mind the image of someone you know with the intention of sending them love, understanding, and kindness. This technique — designed to cultivate a softer, more spacious, kinder mind — is not always focused on people you love, either; it can be focused on someone you don’t like, or even a stranger, or a group of people. You start the meditation by first extending well-wishes to yourself. Why? Because the idea is that you cultivate a sense of kindness to yourself with the intention of, ultimately, being kinder to others. That’s because compassion for others can only begin when you are first able to show compassion to yourself. The more you meditate this way, the more you will be able to foster compassion and let go of easy judgment, of yourself and others.

  • A loving kindness meditation taps into the innate kindness of human nature. Everyone is born with the innate quality of kindness but life, over time, can add different layers of events and experiences that obscure or skew that natural way of being, which gets further buried by mental chatter — the inner-critic, the easy judgment, negative storylines, impatience. Loving kindness meditation helps you to make space between yourself and your thoughts/feelings. We also have a Kindness course — you learn to reject any negative conditioning or judgmental thinking, making way for self-love and self-compassion. This type of meditation essentially reprograms the mind to respond to situations kindly, in how you speak to yourself, in how you view others. With practice, kindness becomes the lens through which you view the world.

  • You can start with a loving kindness meditation in the Headspace app. At first, you learn to recognize how you speak to yourself, noting any easy criticism or negative self-talk. With this awareness, you begin the process of letting go of such thoughts, which then creates space for more positive self-talk as you cultivate self-love and self-compassion. You also get to direct that kindness outward by bringing to mind someone you love, someone you miss, someone you don’t like, or even a stranger … and you send them loving kindness. You come to realize that you can choose to ignore negative thinking and instead focus on what’s kind.

  • There is the obvious benefit that you become kinder to yourself, and that, in turn, has a ripple effect on all your relationships and interactions. You become less reactive and more responsive, more considered and less rash. Scientific research has shown that using loving kindness meditation with Headspace makes people kinder. In one study, three weeks of meditation using the app led to a 23% increase in compassionate behavior.

  • A metta meditation is another word for loving kindness meditation. It’s about sitting in meditation with a focus on directing kindness and compassion inward before directing it outward, to someone you love, someone you like, someone you’re in conflict with, and then to all people everywhere. It is a practice in sending unconditional, benevolent wishes out into the world, with an intention of fostering a kinder mindset that’s rooted in self-love, empathy, and understanding.

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