Our intuitive wisdom often tells us to let go, to be peaceful, to relinquish efforts to control. But our cultural conditioning and personal history tell us we should hold on to people, pleasure, and distractions in order to be happy. Often we find ourselves in a struggle between our own wisdom and our conditioning about clinging and control. An especially important time to heed our intuition is when we're challenged by emotional or physical pain.

This meditation may help you do that. Use one, two, or even three of the lovingkindness phrases below. Alter them in any way you like, or create new phrases that have personal significance.

First try this practice for five to ten minutes. Then move on to a Breathing Meditation…or the Lovingkindness Practice…. If you find that sadness, distress, fear, or discomfort continue to divert your attention, go back to experimenting with the phrases in response to your pain.

Start by sitting or lying on the floor comfortably and take a few deep, soft breaths to let your body settle. Bring your attention to your breath, and begin to say silently your chosen phrases in rhythm with the breath. Or simply settle your attention on the phrases themselves. Feel the meaning of what you are saying, but don't try to force any particular emotional response. Let the practice carry you along.

  • May I accept this pain without thinking it makes me bad or wrong.
  • May I remember that my consciousness is much vaster than this body.
  • May all those who have helped me be safe, be happy, be peaceful.
  • May all beings everywhere be safe, be happy, be peaceful.
  • May my love for myself and others flow without limit.
  • May the power of lovingkindness support me.
  • May I be open to the unknown, like a bird flying free.
  • May I accept my anger, fear, and worry, knowing that my heart is not limited by them.
  • May I be free of danger, may I be peaceful.
  • May I be free from anger, fear, and regret.
  • May I live and die in ease.

When you feel ready, open your eyes.

Sharon Salzberg in Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation