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Guided Visualization to Increase Empathy

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

This week we are practicing our visualization skills on those around us. So, I thought it might be beneficial to do a guided meditation designed specifically to increase empathy for others.

You might want to read the words of this meditation ... slowly ... into a tape recorder and then play it back for yourself. If the sound of your own recorded voice is a little disturbing, perhaps you could find someone else to read the script, or, alternatively, you could practice some self-love and just be with it how it is. Either way, it may take some time and practice to really go deeply into this meditation. When you see the three dots ( ... ) that's an indication to pause when reading the script. This meditation is approximately 10 minutes long.

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Here it is:

See if you can position yourself as comfortably as you can ... shifting your weight so you're allowing your body to be fully supported ... head, neck, and spine straight ...

And taking a couple of deep, full, cleansing breaths ... inhaling as fully as you comfortably can ... sending the warm energy of your breath to any part of your body that's tense or sore or tight ... and releasing the discomfort with the exhale ... so that you can feel your breath going to all the tight, tense places ... loosening and softening them ... and then gathering up all the tension and breathing it out ... so that more and more, you can feel safe and comfortable, relaxed and easy ... watching the cleansing action of the breath ... with friendly but detached awareness ...

And any distracting thoughts or feeling you might have ... those, too, are sent out with the breath ... so that inside, you can be still and quiet ... like a lake with no ripples ...

And now ... imagining a place ... where you feel safe and peaceful and easy ... a place either make-believe or real ... a place from your past ... or somewhere you've always wanted to to ... it doesn't matter ... just so it's a place that feels good and safe and peaceful to you ...

And allowing the place to become real to you, in all of its dimensions ... looking around you ... taking the place in with your eyes ... enjoying the colors ... the scenery ... fully appreciating every detail with your eyes ... looking over to your right ... and over to your left ...

And listening to the sounds of the place ... the motion of wind or water ... the music of birds or crickets ... or a whole blend of sounds ...

And feeling whatever you are sitting against or lying upon ... or perhaps feeling the quality of the ground beneath your feet ... whether it's sand or pine needles or grass ... or you might be in a cozy armchair ... or sitting in a nice, warm rock in the sun ...

And feeling the air on your skin ... either crisp and dry ... or balmy and wet ... perhaps you are inside, feeling the warmth of a cozy fire on your face and hands ... or maybe you are outdoors, and there's just the subtlest caress of a fragrant, gentle breeze ... so just enjoying the feel of the place on your skin ...

And smelling its rich fragrance ... whether it's the soft, full scent of flowers ... or sharp, salt sea air ... sweet meadow grass ... or maybe the pungent smell of peat moss in the woods ...

And as you become more and more attuned to the safety and beauty of this place ... feeling thankful and happy to be there ... you might begin to feel a kind of tingling ... a pleasant, energizing something in the air all around you ... something that contains expectancy and excitement ... a sense that something wonderful is just about to happen ...

And as you look out in front of you ... just a few feet before you ... you begin to discern that there is a king of transparent screen there ... getting more and more opaque and solid as you look at it ...

And as you watch the screen with a kind of peaceful curiosity ... you gradually become aware of a human form beginning to appear on it ... becoming more and more defined ... until the three-dimensional image of a person is quite clear --- someone you want to understand better ... or resolve something with ... appearing on the screen ... in whatever characteristic posture they have ... wearing whatever it is that they wear ... doing whatever it is that they do ... crisp and clear in every dimension ...

And surprised but not surprised, you see that you can softly and easily enter the screen ... to have a closer look ... undetected by them, you can slip into the screen ... and have a slow, detached, curious walk around them ... seeing them from every angle ... the profile ... and the back ... and the other side ...

And experiencing the feel of the air around them ... the sounds of the breathing or the voice ... the smells that surround them ... just slowly moving around them ... experiencing a full, rich awareness of them ... with all of your senses ...

And now ... in the safe, magical space of the screen ... for the sake of your own learning ... somehow, for just a short while ... sliding past the boundaries and slipping into the body of this other person ... entering this other awareness ... and breathing their breath ... for just a brief while ...

And if there is any resistance to doing this, just gently noting it, and allowing yourself to soften all around it ... for the sake of understanding more ... to learn what you need to know ... just an experiment ... feeling what it is like to be in their body ... breathing their breath ... looking down and seeing the hands and the feet ... the clothing ...

And feeling what is happening in the heart ... (pause) ... the belly ... (pause) ... the muscles of the back and the neck ... (pause) ... open and curious as to how it is in there ...

And seeing out from their eyes ... what the world looks like ... sounds like ... feels like ... as you breathe their breath ... feel their feelings ...

... (longer pause) ...

And perhaps even seeing you over there ... with this pair of eyes ... what you look like ... sound like ... how you seem ... from this body ... from this awareness ... feeling what it feels like to be looking over at you, while breathing this breath ... soft and easy ... just allowing yourself the space to experience this ... in the safe, magical space of this screen ... with friendly but detached interest ...

... (longer pause) ...

And now ... softly and easily ... very gently wishing this body goodbye ... with whatever thoughts and wishes you feel appropriate ... saying goodbye to this other ... and gently moving back into your own body ... re inhabiting your own body ... fully and easily ... breathing deeply into your own belly ... exhaling fully from your own nose and mouth ...

And feeling grateful for your ability to move so easily here and there ... you step out of the magical, translucent screen ... back into your peaceful outdoor environment ... again taking in the beautiful sights and sounds and smells ... and watching the shimmering screen fade ...

Understanding that you have in fact added to your own understanding in a very real way ... increasing your own well-being as you open your mind and heart in this way ... safely and easily ... and knowing that you can do so again whenever you wish ...

And so ... very gently ... and with soft eyes ... coming back into the room whenever you are ready ... knowing that you are better for this ... and so you are ...

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