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Healthy Minds in Practice: Giving and Receiving Love

Photo courtesy iStock

Love is a powerful emotion. It can be an anchor to keep us grounded and a tie that keeps us connected to others. In this 12 minute practice, we’ll celebrate love and invite more of it into our lives. We'll alternate between strengthening the skills of awareness and compassion while exploring the ways you experience love and the varied emotions that go with it. 

Giving and Receiving Love

Led by Ronné Wingate Sims

Hi! This is Ronné Wingate Sims. Thanks for joining me. The 1965 hit song, “What the world needs now is love” couldn’t be a more appropriate theme for today. Love is a powerful force that unites us all. In this meditation we’ll employ the breath as we celebrate giving and receiving love, and invite more of it into our world. 

Start by finding a comfortable position that brings you a sense of calm alertness. Ideally one that helps you feel alert, yet relaxed. Place your hands in your lap or rest them on your thighs. Feel free to close your eyes or leave them open, whatever’s most comfortable. Take a few slow, deep breaths.

Allow your breath to return to normal. Now, ask yourself: What motivated you to do this practice right now? Why are you here listening to this? Consider this practice an act of love for yourself, your loved ones or for the world. 

When you’re ready, place one hand over your heart. See if you can feel your heartbeat. If it’s easier, try feeling for your pulse by holding on to your wrist below the base of your thumb. Once you find it, take a moment to notice its rhythm. 

Every beat of your heart is another opportunity for you to give and receive love. As you take a few deep breaths give thanks to your heart and your body for keeping you alive.

Extend that same love and appreciation to the rest of your self, recognizing that you don’t have to do or be anything other than who you are in this moment. You are enough and you are worthy of love, just as you are. You might say something like, “I am love.” Or “I am loved.”

Now, return your hands to your lap or on your thighs. Take a few deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth — slowly filling your lungs, holding for a moment and then exhaling completely. 

As you breathe, notice how your abdomen rises and falls, how air flows through your nostrils, into your lungs, and flows back out again.

Now, see if you can bring to mind the face of a loved one. This can be a romantic partner, a family member, a close friend or even a pet. It can be someone from the past or the present. As you visualize their face, reflect on the ways in which their unconditional love has touched your life. 

Give thanks for the love they’ve shared with you. If it feels right whisper, “I love you” or “you mean the world to me” to them. You can use any phrase that feels meaningful to you. 

How are you feeling in this moment? Are you feeling joyful?, sad?, or somewhere in between? Thinking about love can bring up strong emotions, so whatever you’re feeling right now is perfectly fine. Continue to be open and aware of whatever’s happening for you in this moment. 

Now, turn your attention back to the breath. See if you can focus on the movement of your breath as it flows through your nose, deep into your lungs, and back out again. 

If at any point you find that your mind begins to wander off, that’s fine. Gently bring it back by focusing on your breath.

See if you can reflect on a time in your life when you acted with loving kindness toward someone. Perhaps it was a special occasion or life event - like a birthday, graduation, engagement - or maybe just a regular day when you showed your love and care to someone else. 

Do you notice any specific feelings that came up for you just now? Again, whatever you feel is fine. Just acknowledge it and give thanks for being able to share love with others. 

Let’s return to the breath. Notice the quality of your breath as it flows in and out. 

Lets expand awareness to the world around us. Love is as close as our front door. Think about the feeling of the sun kissing your skin, the breeze on your face, birds singing or flowers blooming. Consider the glow of the moon and the twinkle of the stars. Imagine that all of this is the earth’s way of showing love. Give thanks for the way the earth demonstrates its unconditional love for us every day. 

Now, let’s go back to the breath again. Focus on the movement of your breath as it flows through your nose, into your lungs, and back out again. 

Consider all of the people of the world, near and far who just like you, desire and are worthy of love. Take a moment to send them a loving thought. You might say something like, “May you feel love, peace and joy.”

For the rest of the practice let’s just rest our minds. There’s nothing to do here but to sit in the fullness of these loving feelings, however this feels to you in this moment.

Great, let’s end here. When you’re ready, you can slowly open your eyes if they are closed. Take in the beauty of this moment. 

Love truly does make the world go ‘round. Feel free to return back to this practice whenever you feel the need for a little more love in your life. Thanks for joining me.

Awareness. Connection. Insight. Purpose. We consider these to be four ingredients of a healthy mind. You can train yourself to improve these skills, just like you can develop any habit. This audio practice is provided by Healthy Minds Innovations (HMI), an external, affiliated nonprofit dedicated to supporting the mission of the Center for Healthy Minds. Want more practices? Try the Healthy Minds Program App.

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