Day 2 Morning Meditation: Open Your Heart, with Sharon Salzberg

A simple practice for opening your heart toward giving and receiving love.

To connect more deeply with others, we must face the one person that we keep on the shortest leash: ourselves. We often reject other people’s care or attention when we believe we don’t deserve it—but there’s nothing special you must do to deserve love. As Sharon Salzberg reminds us, it is simply because you exist. Follow this guided meditation to open your heart toward giving and receiving love.

A Meditation for Opening the Heart

A Meditation for Opening the Heart

  • 15:49

This meditation begins by imagining yourself surrounded by a circle of the most loving beings, making generous offerings of love and goodwill to you. Sit comfortably, eyes open or closed. 

1. Imagine you’re encircled by people who love you. You, in the center of a circle, made up of the most loving beings you’ve met. Maybe they exist now or they’ve existed historically, or even mythically.

2. Receive the love of those who love you. Experience yourself as the recipient of the energy, attention, care, and regard of all of these beings in your circle of love. Silently repeat phrases of tender love and care for yourself, not just for today but in an enduring way. Phrases that are big and open, like May I be safe, be happy, be healthy. Live with ease of heart

3. Notice how you feel when you receive love. You may feel gratitude and awe, or you might feel kind of shy. Whatever emotions arise, just let them wash through you. Repeat your phrases of tender care: May I be safe. May I be happy… 

4. Open yourself up to receiving love. Imagine that your skin is porous and this warm, loving energy is coming in. Imagine yourself receiving love simply because you exist.

5. Send loving care to the people in your circle. Allow that quality of loving-kindness and compassion and care you feel coming toward you to flow right back out to the circle and then toward all beings everywhere so that what you receive, you transform into giving.  When you feel ready you can open your eyes or lift your gaze to end the session.

Research on Loving-Kindness and Compassion

As few as seven total hours over two weeks of loving-kindness meditation increases connections in the brain for empathy and positive feelings. This impact is strong enough to show up outside the meditation state. Hundreds of studies now validate that cultivating positive emotions—gratitude, kindness, joy, awe, delight—will shift the functioning of the brain from negative to more positive. This creates more openness, more collaboration with other people, more optimism. Self-compassion is a very powerful practice to trigger that brain shift. The direct, measurable outcome of self-compassion practice is resilience. So we engage the power of self-compassion not just to feel better, but to function better.

Read More About Compassion:

About the author

Sharon Salzberg

Sharon Salzberg is a meditation teacher and New York Times best-selling author. She is the co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and has played a crucial role in bringing Asian meditation practices to the West. Sharon has been a student of meditation since 1971, guiding retreats worldwide since 1974. She is a weekly columnist for On Being, a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and the author of many books including Real Happiness, Lovingkindness, and Real Change.

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