Friday, February 14, 2020

Resources for Practicing and Teaching Kindness and Compassion

updated March 10, 2020


Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash





by Catharine Hannay




Here are a variety of resources on lovingkindness, including guided meditation, songs, videos, and recommended books.

I've started with teaching tips, so if you're looking for resources for your own personal practice, you might want to skip that part and scroll down to the Lovingkindness Meditation subheading.





Teaching Tips 

(for using these resources 
with adults, adolescents, or children)





If you plan to lead a guided meditation:

Here are a few basic guidelines, based on advice I've heard consistently over the years from experienced mindfulness teachers and teacher trainers.

  • Please don't lead any practices you haven't done personally, preferably several times;
  • If you aren't yet able to speak comfortably, without using a script, you might be better off using recordings for now;
  • Use your own discernment about what's appropriate for your particular students or clients, based on factors including: 
    • their previous experiences (if any) with meditation;
    • their age/attention span;
    • their religious beliefs.
  • Especially if you're teaching in a context where people are required to be there (such as a school program or workplace retreat), always give them an option to stop meditating. We don't always know other people's trauma histories or what might be triggering for them.


If you plan to use the other teaching resources:

Here are a few basic guidelines, based on many conversations over the years with students and colleagues who had negative experiences in the classroom:

  • Never show a video to your class without watching it first; 
  • Never share a song with your students without reading the full lyrics first;
  • Be very careful with any discussion topics or writing prompts that involve personal information:
    • Make sure the students clearly understand how the information will be used;
    • Don't push anyone beyond their comfort level. 
      • As I mentioned above, we don't always know other people's trauma histories or what might be triggering for them. 
      • Also, we don't always realize the social dynamics or what they might be comfortable sharing with the group. 


OK, all of that said, here are a variety of different resources you might find useful.





Lovingkindness 




Sending Kind Thoughts
kids lead a lovingkindness practice
(1 1/2 minutes)
from Greater Good; 
they also have a useful article on 
Training Kids for Kindness 




Guided Lovingkindness Meditation Audio Recordings


A note about Christian reaction to lovingkindness meditation:
There's a lot of misunderstanding about why many Christians object to lovingkindness meditation. I've heard secular teachers say things like "Don't use repeated phrases," which isn't really the issue. (For the record, I grew up saying repeated phrases at church every Sunday. But they were different types of phrases.)
My colleague Dr. Irene Kraegel has a useful perspective on lovingkindness meditation at her website, TheMindfulChristian.com. You may also be interested in the many posts here at Mindful Teachers about Religious and Spiritual Perspectives on Mindfulness, including a few guest posts by Dr. Kraegel, who teaches mindfulness at a faith-based university.



Compassion Practices 
here at MindfulTeachers.org  



Videos About Kindness and Compassion




 from Sharon Salzberg and 10% Nicer



Over the past few years, I've put together a lot of video playlists about kindness and compassion, featuring adults and kids from all over the world. Many of them have suggested questions you might want to use as discussion topics or prompts for reflective writing.
Change the World Song Playlist :  music videos about diversity, unity, love for humanity, and making a difference  
Inspiring Videos of Young People Serving the World: children, teens, and young adults who've made a difference in their own communities or communities in other parts of the world. 
Inspiring Videos of Service to Humanity: helping child soldiers, victims of human trafficking, and former gang members, and providing 'spiritual and mental nutrition' to the starving. 
Kindness and Compassion Song Playlist 1: songs about treating each other with compassion, empathy, and kindness 
Kindness and Compassion Song Playlist 2: songs about discrimination, understanding people from different backgrounds, and taking action to help others 
Mindfulness and Compassion Song Playlist:includes songs about appreciating the present moment and about compassion, peace and diversity.
Regret and Forgiveness Song Playlist: songs about apologizing, reconciliation, and forgiving ourselves and others  
Thought-Provoking Videos About Empathy, Compassion and Servicehow to defeat bullying, support people from different backgrounds, and communicate respectfully even if we have opposing viewpoints.
Videos about Kindness, Compassion, and Service (part 1): small acts of kindness and large acts of philanthropy. 
Videos about Kindness, Compassion, and Service (part 2): empathy and aid for people from different backgrounds.


A Few Recommended Books on Compassion


Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World, by Mathieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk with a PhD in cell genetics whose very influential in bringing together scientific and spiritual perspectives.

Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happinessby Sharon Salzberg, who was at the forefront in making lovingkindness part of mainstream mindfulness teaching.

Mindful Compassion, by Paul Gilbert and Choden: written by the founder of Compassion-Focused Therapy.



Please Note: The above books are by Buddhist teachers, written for a general audience with a variety of beliefs. Christian teachers or students might prefer Dr. Irene Kraegel's book The Mindful Christian: Cultivating a Life of Intentionality, Openness, and Faith, which includes a section on lovingkindness meditation and other reflections on compassion and self-compassion.


Looking for Children's Books?

I have a list of teacher-recommended books on mindfulness in a post on Mindfulness and Yoga for Young Children. You may also be interested in a list of 25 Multicultural Children’s Books teaching Kindness & Empathy at ColoursofUs.com.






Related Posts at MindfulTeachers.org




And there are many more resources on mindfulness and compassion at www.mindfulteachers.org/p/mindfulness-resources.html.





About the Author



Catharine Hannay is the founder of MindfulTeachers.org and the author of Being You: A Girl’s Guide to Mindfulness, a workbook for teen girls on mindfulness, compassion, and self-acceptance.