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Updated on:

October 5, 2019

Love comes in a variety of flavors as our life experience can attest to. However, beneath whatever form love takes on the surface of our human existence. It’s the unshakeable, unconditional form of this feeling that many of us are after. Through a variety of mindfulness exercises for love and compassion, we come into greater resonance with this powerful force of love that rests at the core of each of us. And so, we have come up with 8 mindfulness exercises for love and compassion. You can click here to jump to the guide right away.

It’s a question that doesn’t always elicit a simple answer. Because, it depends upon what we’re referring to. For example, there’s romantic love. There’s the unconditional love we have for our children. And then, there is the universal force of energy that, in many traditions, is understood to be the highest form of love.

mindfulness exercises for love and compassion, 8 Mindfulness Exercises for Love and Compassion

Defining Unconditional Love and Compassion

Beneath whatever feelings of love we experience for our partners, our family members, our pets, and the world beneath our feet. There is a broader scope of this sentiment that many of us are now tapping into – that is, the unconditional heart of compassion. When we first run into the idea that compassion and love can be ‘unconditional’. Many of us experience some form of rejection of this notion. 

Well, it is largely because there are many hurts, many traumas, and many acts of aggression. These challenge our ability to see that love can be granted in any and all situations. However, as we begin to explore the unconditional energy of love and compassion through a variety of mindfulness exercises. We come to see how love as unconditional and the awareness of our human trials and tribulations are not mutually exclusive. To explore this further, let’s consider what unconditional love and compassion are not, or do not require of us.

  • Unconditional love does not draw the blinders on human pain and suffering; in fact, it enables us to move in closer and grant love and support where it is needed.
  • Unconditional love and compassion does not require us to accept or subject ourselves to acts of unkindness or abuse. Instead, it helps us to harness our sense of love for ourselves and to mindfully navigate challenging situations more effectively.
  • Unconditional love does not mean that we cannot look at or acknowledge painful experiences of our past. It simply holds any situation from a higher lens, inviting us to move beyond the limitations imposed by the past.
  • To love unconditionally is not the same as condoning hurtful or destructive actions. It is simply a broader way of seeing a particular occurrence.

It is hard to clearly define what unconditional love really is. As humans, many of us falter in offering unconditional love based on the way that life has conditioned us to understand the world we live in. Unconditional love is really more of a feeling – an intangible energy of acceptance and oneness – than it is a notion we can rationally hold onto. As we explore a variety of practices, such as mindfulness exercises for trauma and loving-kindness practices. We start to gain a visceral sense of what and how we might open ourselves up to this transformative force.

A Simple Love-Centered Mindfulness Exercise

There are many different mindfulness exercises online that can be explored in relation to love and compassion. However, this simple heart-centered practice is a great grounding meditation. It can be practiced without any additional tools and without requiring an extended period of time. You can practice this mindfulness exercise anywhere, bringing yourself into a comfortable seated position and closing your eyes as it feels safe to do so.

  • Wherever you are seated, take a few moments to focus your attention on your breath. Without changing the breath in anyway, simply follow its natural rhythm. and as you pay greater attention to the sensations present with each inhalation and each exhalation. Watch your breath in this way for just a few cycles.
  • Now, gently tune into the physical body, noting where there is any contraction, and mindfully release this tension. Soften the belly, the shoulders, the eyebrows, and the forehead, in particular.
  • Next, draw your attention to the space between your closed eyes. And when you are ready, begin to draw your attention slowly down the length of your nose. Then through your mouth and throat, until you land in the center of your chest. Hold your attention here as you breathe into and out of the heart space.
  • Anytime the mind wanders, pulling your attention away from the peaceful flow of your breath through your heart center, gently invite these thoughts down to the heart for release and/or transformation.
  • Practice this for a few minutes at minimum or for as long as you’d like. You can practice this technique anytime. When the mind becomes consumed by fearful thoughts that are in opposition with the loving core nestled deep within you. In addition to being used as a standalone practice, you can use this exercise as a way of grounding yourself in the heart space before diving into another mindfulness exercises for love and compassion.

8 Mindfulness Exercises for Love and Compassion

From trauma and depression to anger and contempt, a variety of human experiences act as invitations for us to deepen our sense of the transformative power of love. As we open our hearts to this broader way of viewing ourselves, our pasts, and those around us, our experience of compassion grows and our life transforms in infinite ways. These 8 mindfulness exercises online are examples of practices and teachings we can explore in relation to our search for greater peace, happiness, and unconditional acceptance.

Forgiveness can often be hard to grant, acting as a barrier at times between us and our capacity to love unconditionally. While forgiveness takes practice and time, it is worthy of our consideration and exploration if we yearn to heal our hearts. This talk by Jack Kornfield is an introduction to the 12 principles of forgiveness. This can help us to move into this virtue with greater understanding and ease.

In this talk given by Mark Coleman, we are invited to explore the tender spaces within us – to approach our struggles and our vulnerabilities with tenderness. This is a crucial exploration and consideration if we wish to move deeper into our experience of unconditional love as it helps us to be more present with the pain that arises in life. And, as we become better equipped at being with our own pain, we become more present with that of others.

There are a variety of mindfulness exercises for trauma that help us to move into and beyond some of life’s most painful experiences. This talk by Tara Brach is a beautiful introduction to how we might do that. She explores the precautions we must take when venturing into trauma and suggests specific practices. Those might be most helpful to soothe the nervous system as a starting point. Once we are well grounded in these practices and it feels safe to dive deeper, we can consider moving further with our exploration.

In this talk, Tara Brach introduces us to the acronym, RAIN. It acts as a guideline for compassionate exploration. 1) recognize what is going on. 2) allow the experience to be there. 3) investigate with interest and care. Lastly, 4) nurture with self-compassion. Even in the presence of challenging emotions and feelings, we can use this acronym as a way to navigate our way through whatever is present with grace.

This talk by Rick Hanson invites us into a deeper exploration of how we can enhance our power to create a stronger sense of happiness and wholeness. A short way into the talk, he guides listeners through a practice of self-compassion. As we start to feel more loving towards ourselves, we are better able to exhibit those feelings outwards and onto those around us.

A beautiful and powerful heart-based practice that comes from the Buddhist tradition is metta meditation. Sometimes referred to as loving-kindness meditation. This practice helps to enhance our ability to feel unconditional love and well wishes for ourselves, for others, and for the world at large.

For those who learn well through reading, this free e-book called ‘On Love’ is written by Ajahn Jayasaro. It dives into this topic with a broad lens, helping us to gain another perspective of this human emotion. Exploring this topic from a Buddhist perspective, it also highlights practices that can help us to explore the true nature of things and to enhance our awareness of love and life.

Another example of a metta meditation, this recording – led by Kamala Masters – expands our loving-kindness practice by incorporating the practice of forgiveness. Through this meditation, we gain a greater sense of our connection to others. Masters invites us to consider that we each one of us holds the same wish and desire for freedom from pain and suffering.

In conclusion, regardless of where we are in life or what we are experiencing, the opportunity to expand our capacity for unconditional love and compassion is infinite. In each moment, we can work towards gaining a larger perspective of some situation or person, helping us to see that we are each more alike than we are different. With a variety of mindfulness exercises online dedicated to enhancing love and compassion, there is no shortage of pathways into the fullness of the heart.

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About the author 

Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]