A Compassion Practice for Healthcare Workers

In this guided loving-kindness meditation, Dr. Mark Bertin offers an opportunity to bring awareness to patterns of thinking, settle the mind, and dedicate a few minutes to self-care.

denayune/Adobe Stock

Our minds are never really still. And in moments of uncertainty or crisis, whether in life or in a clinical setting, our minds can complicate our emotional and practical responses with thoughts that make our experiences more intense. 

In this guided loving-kindness meditation, Dr. Mark Bertin invites us to work with our thoughts. This practice strengthens our intention to notice and label whatever may arise, as a tool to anchor ourselves. While you follow along, simply recognize where your mind gets caught up in thinking about the future or the past. Quite often we get lost in thought—even while meditating. When this happens, we can use an immediate sensation or a phrase to ground ourselves again.

What to do When Thoughts Arise While Meditating

We can’t wrestle with or suppress thinking. No matter how hard we try, thoughts will always come and go. Often, they’re like trains leaving a station, Bertin says. They sweep through our minds, we hop on the train of thought, and get lost. 

Within any mindfulness practice, we can anchor our attention with something neutral, like the breath, and recognize that our thoughts are not inherently good or bad, useful or useless.

A Simple Compassion Practice

1. Find a comfortable posture for yourself. You can sit, stand, or lie down, with your gaze lowered or eyes shut.

2. Begin by offering yourself well wishes. At a comfortable pace, maybe timed with your breath, start by repeating the loving-kindness phrases to yourself.
May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I live my life with ease.
You can use any variation of the phrases that works for you.

3. When your mind wanders, note or label your thoughts and bring your attention back to the phrases.

4. Let go of any sense of striving or trying to make yourself feel anything. Approach whatever your experience is right now the way you would approach that of a close friend. 

5. Continue to repeat the phrases of your choice.
May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I live my life with ease.

6. Remind yourself that you deserve well wishes, no more and no less than anyone else.

7. Next, expand your awareness to the people around you. It may be people within the closest proximity to you, or your dearest friends or family members. Offer them the same well wishes.
May you all be happy, may you all be healthy, may you all live your life with ease. 

8. If you’re comfortable where you are, you can continue to offer well wishes to the people around you. If you’d like to go further, try expanding your awareness to all people, and all beings everywhere.
May all beings be happy, may all beings be healthy, may all beings live their life with ease.

9. When you’re ready you can open your eyes.