(Loving kindness meditation)
Metta is a Pali word generally translated in Englsih as “loving kindness”. It can also be translated as friendliness, benevolence or good will.
You may wish to practice Metta for few minutes each day at the beginning or at the end of your meditation practice, or do a separate sitting in which you only practice Metta meditation, or even choose to integrate your Metta practice with daily chores.
To begin, take a few moments to quiet your mind and focus your attention on the experience of loving kindness, then begin by offering Metta to yourself. If distracting thoughts arise during the practice, acknowledge them, make a mental note to return to them afterwards, but quickly move them aside to maintain concentration.
Recite the following phrases to yourself at a pace that keeps you focused and alert.
- 1. May I be safe and protected.
- 2. May I be peaceful and happy.
- 3. May I be healthy and strong.
- 4. May I be at ease
Continue reciting the phrases in the first person. You may change the formulation as you wish, and if English is not your mother tongue or language of habitual use, you can use another language.
Once you are comfortable with this part of the practice, start offering Metta to a loved one, for example one of your children or a close and dear friend. You can also offer Metta to a beloved pet. Forming visualizations of this person or being while reciting the phrases can be helpful.
- 1. May s/he be safe and protected.
- 2. May s/he be peaceful and happy.
- 3. May s/he be healthy and strong.
- 4. May s/he be at ease
Once your Metta flows easily to a loved one, begin to include in your practice one or more of the following categories of persons to whom you will offer Metta:
- A neutral person (someone you neither like nor dislike), like a shop keeper.
- A person you are having difficulties with (no need to start with the most difficult person, but someone whom you have a distaste for, like a politician you despise)
- All beings, (choose whichever word to describe all 'beings' that you please; it may be helpful to break up this category into subcategories; i.e., all men, and then all women, humans and animals.
Metta practice is a powerful antidote to ill will, anger, hatred and all aversive states of mind. It is also said to promote sound, undisturbed sleep.