Opening our hearts to more romantic partnerships means more opportunities for those partnerships to come to an end. During a breakup, even under the most amicable of circumstances, it can be tempting to associate negative feelings with a former partner or focus on their flaws and shortcomings as a way of buffering the pain of the loss. Unfortunately, these reflexes interfere with the healing process and tamper with the ability to transition into a platonic partnership (if one is desired). Loving kindness meditation offers a way to combat this temptation and redirect towards positive feelings for former partners.
Even for those who don't experience negative feelings towards a former partner, practicing loving kindness meditation can be a helpful tool to reinforce your own self-love and your positive feelings about a former partner.
Step Two: Loving kindness meditation
As you approach this meditation, it's important to remember two things:
First, select three phrases that are meaningful to you as you consider the current situation.
You've selected 0 phrases. Select 3 more to continue.
For this next step it's helpful to find a quiet and calm place to sit and focus. Repeat the following phrases to yourself in your mind, with your eyes closed, and with enough space between each repetition for the words to resonate with you. Do as many repetitions as you feel comfortable (If you're eager for rules and structure, around 5 times is a good place to start).
If you feel your mind wander, just gently bring it back to focus on this practice without judgment.
Now think of someone who brings positive energy into your life. Someone who you love easily, even if it's not a romantic love. Spend a moment visualizing that person in your mind as if they were in front of you.
Once again, repeat the phrases as you did before, but with your focus on this person. Do as many repetitions as feel right to you.
Next consider someone you don't have strong feelings about, a stranger you just met. Examples might be a server at a restaurant or someone you noticed walking by on the street. Once again, spend a moment visualizing that person in your mind as if they were in front of you.
This time, as you repeat the phases, allow yourself to feel a positive energy for this person and for their welfare. Sometimes it helps to visualize the energy you're sending out to that person.
Offer yourself compassion for this next step, and if you find it evokes a lot of emotions, that's ok. Just notice them without judgment and return to the practice.
Now think about someone you have difficulty with. Once again, spend a moment visualizing that person in your mind, but to the best of your ability, try not to associate specific feelings with them in this moment. Just focus on repeating these phrases. With practice, in time, you may be able to start feeling positive energy for this person and their welfare.
If you've made it to this point in the meditation, take a moment to feel pride that you've set aside time to engage in a practice like this. It's a beautiful thing you've undertaken and you deserve to feel good about it.
The last step in this meditation is to think about everyone in the world. This time, you are going to repeat the same phrases, and instead of directing them at a single person, you will offer the positive energy up to everyone everywhere. To all beings.
Step Three: Next Steps and Resources
Congratulations, you've completed this loving kindness practice. You may not notice any significant change in your feelings or emotions the first time you do this practice. It takes time and repetition for it to have power. Try to come back often and repeat the practice to get the full effect.
If you are feeling good about this practice and want to explore complimentary exercises, it may be helpful to visit the Jealousy and Difficult Feelings page.
For further reading, I suggest you check out the book Real Love by Sharon Salzberg.