This is an excellent meditation to follow if you’re stuck in an awareness that’s too overly focused on yourself and your thoughts. You might be feeling stressed, frustrated, confused, or just downright agitated because your state of consciousness is narrow and restricted. Typically, when we’re in a less than a blissful state of being, we’re overly focused on ourselves. Perhaps we’re wholly fixated on a particular drama that’s going on in our lives and going round and round in circles trying to fix it or make it somehow better. If you’re caught up in this kind of mental state, it’s always a good idea to get out of it—remember, you can’t fix a problem from the same level of awareness from which it came.
That said, take a moment to get comfortable and find a meditation seat. Close your eyes and begin to focus your attention solely on the breath. As you breathe deeply, become very still, drawing your focus inward. Now, take a moment to consider what it feels like to be you, experiencing the particular drama or life situation that’s got you “hooked,” as Pema Chodron would say. Whatever it is you’re experiencing in this moment, bring it into your body and into your awareness. How does it feel? You might even want to exaggerate these feelings a bit, to make them big and clear within your state of consciousness. Even if it feels icky and sticky, take a moment to feel into it, with all your senses. Allow yourself to feel totally and entirely constricted by your mind stuff.
Now, bring your attention back to your breath and use your inhalations and exhalations to begin to release all that constricted tension gradually. Just begin to let it all go. As you do this, notice how your body starts to relax. Perhaps your shoulders fall down from your ears, and your face begins to soften. Just allow your body to continue relaxing and releasing the stress and tension that’s there. As you do this, start to notice the environment around you. Notice the space that surrounds your being. In other words, slowly begin to move your awareness outward.
Connect yourself to the room or space in which you’re meditating. Allow your exhalations to lengthen a bit, as you continue to expand your awareness outward, bringing it to the space outside—to the elements of nature around you. Think about the entire continent upon which you’re sitting. Can you bring into your mind’s eye all the living beings going about their daily business, with all their struggles and all their happiness and everything in between?
Continue to expand your awareness outward to the many continents beyond this one. Think about the planet and all its sentient beings. Imagine what it might be like to walk in their shoes for a moment – rather than your own. See if you can connect to all of them, as you continue to breathe deeply. Offer everyone and everything inner peace and unconditional love. Breathe deeply as you offer this love and feel it is given back to you.