We all have people in our lives who are challenging to be with—maybe a friend or family member, a coworker or boss—but who are important to our lives nonetheless.
The following meditation is designed to help you build compassion for this person and yourself so that you can have a healthier relationship and better cope with times when they challenge you.
This exercise may bring up some strong emotions for you, so make sure that you give yourself the time to practice it fully (we recommend anywhere from 10-30 minutes). You may want to revisit the meditation more than once, or start with someone who is slightly less challenging than the person you have the most conflict with.
Meditation for Difficult Relationships
- Find a comfortable position for meditating. If it feels okay, find a gentle relaxation in your jaw and in your shoulders. You might imagine a string pulling the top of your head towards the ceiling to allow for a straight spine without being uncomfortable.
- If it feels okay, close your eyes and take a few full inhales and exhales to settle your body and mind. Take as many breaths as you need before moving on.
- Now, we’ll build compassion for ourselves. Say to yourself, whether aloud or in your mind, the following affirmations:
“May I be safe.”
“May I be at peace.”
“May I have joy.”
“May I be well.”
Take a few more breaths, and repeat these affirmations once more.
- Now, I invite you to call to mind the person you are feeling challenged by and to repeat the above affirmation for them.
“May you be safe.”
“May you be at peace.”
“May you have joy.”
“May you be well.”
Take a few more breaths, if that feels okay.
You might notice some resistance at directing these affirmations towards this person, and that’s okay. See if you can notice the emotions this brings up and how they affect your relationship with them.
When you feel ready, repeat these affirmations for this person again. “May you be safe, may you be at peace, may you have joy, may you be well.”
- Think of a positive moment or attribute that you associate with this person. Perhaps you appreciate that they are very organized, or you can recall a time that you two laughed together. Hold this moment or attribute in your awareness, continuing to breathe, and one more time, repeat the affirmations.
“May you be safe, may you be at peace, may you have joy, may you be well.”
Breathe in. Breathe out.
- Now, we’re going to bring this compassion back to ourselves.
Aloud or in your head, say “may I be safe, may I be at peace, may I have joy, may I be well”. Take a few more breaths and when you are ready, open your eyes.
I recommend that you give yourself plenty of time and space to practice this meditation so that you can fully connect with the words of the affirmations, and experience both inwards and outwards compassion.
This meditation is adapted from “Mindfulness Made Simple: An Introduction to Finding Calm Through Mindfulness and Meditation.”