Set aside a quiet period to go through these simple steps with intention and openness.
- Recognize the place of loving kindness inside yourself. It is there. Honor it, awaken it, and actively draw upon it.
- Drawing upon the source of loving kindness within, bring to mind someone for whom you feel sincere goodwill and tenderness, someone you love very much. From your source, send loving kindness toward this person and bless them.
- Awaken loving kindness for someone who is a casual friend or associate—someone not in your inner circle, but a bit further removed, someone you admire or appreciate. Send love to that individual.
- Now send loving kindness to someone about whom you feel neutral or indifferent—for example, a gas station attendant or a cashier. Send your blessing to this person.
- Think of someone who has hurt you, who has talked evil of you, whom you find it difficult to like or you don’t enjoy being around. Bless them; send this would-be enemy your love.
- Bring all of the first five individuals into the stream of flowing love, including yourself. Hold them here for a few moments.
- Finally, extend this love to embrace all beings in the universe. It is one piece of love, one love toward all, regardless of religion, race, culture, or likability.
This practice can help you know—in your mind, heart, and body—that love is not determined by the worthiness of the object. Love is determined by the giver of the love. These steps can be repeated for the other three limitless qualities. Remember, spiritual gifts increase with use. Love, compassion, joy, and equanimity will grow as you let them flow. You are simply an instrument, a conduit for the inflow and outflow of the gifts of the Spirit. You are “inter-being.”
--From the Center for Action and Contemplation