While I am working on another project about promoting self-love, I want to share a beautiful meditation with you. Its name is Metta or maybe better known as Loving-Kindness Meditation.
Metta has several meanings, including: loving kindness, friendship, good will, friendliness, and active interest in others.
In his book: The Mind Illuminated, Yohn Yates introduces Loving-Kindness Meditation the following way:
“This Meditation conditions your mind to readily enter a state of ease, peace, love, and happiness. It also cultivates loving-kindness and compassion toward all beings, including you.”
Although we have a tendency towards being selfish, it is ourselves, we often find hardest to truly love. In my opinion, many of our problems with others and ourselves have their origin in having trouble to love ourselves. I had many conversations about this topic and I know from myself, that sometimes, the things we tell ourselves, are the meanest and darkest, we are capable of saying. Often, we wouldn’t even tell those things to someone else, without regretting our words immediately.
I also should do this practice more often. Every time I do it, I feel better afterwards. And although I am pretty happy with the person I am today, I still need to show more compassion towards myself in certain areas of my life. If I had to describe how the practice impacts me, I’d say, that it soothes a raging heart.
There are countless different practices out there and I think each one has its merits. The practice I want to share with you is also from The Mind Illuminated, as it has an in-depth explanation. I will, however, give only a summary.
The practice is based on a simple formula:
May all beings be free from suffering.
May all beings be free from ill-will.
May all beings be filled with loving-kindness.
May all beings be truly happy.
There are three parts to the practice:
- you generate these feelings as strongly as you can in your mind
- you generate a strong wish for others to experience these feelings
- remind yourself that you too need and deserve to be comfortable, at peace, filled with love, and happy
Set a timer for your practice. Feel free to adjust the time according to your needs. At the beginning, start with Focus Meditation until your mind is settled.
Generate the feelings
Once your mind is settled, let the breathing sensation slip into the background of your awareness. Now, make the first wish: May I be free from suffering. Call to your mind, as clearly as you can, what it is and feels like to completely free of any kind of suffering. Generate a strong sense of what it feels like to feel comfortable and at ease in mind and body.
Then, without losing that feeling make the second wish: May I be free from ill-will. Again, call to your mind what it is like to be completely free of every kind of ill-will, completely at peace with everything and everyone. Generate a strong feeling of being at peace with the world.
Then, without losing these feelings, make the third wish: May I be filled with loving-kindness. Call to your mind, what it is like to be filled with the wonderful, heart-warming feelings of love and kindness. Think of someone you love and focus on the feeling of tenderness and caring it produces in you.
Then, without losing all of these feelings, make the fourth wish: May I be truly happy. Call to mind, as clearly as possible, what it is like to be truly happy, contented, wanting and needing nothing, saturated with the simple bliss of being alive.
Sit for a little while basking in the experience of the complete absence of suffering, being at peace, and filled with love and happiness.
Generating the wish for others
Without losing these precious feelings you have so carefully generated, say to yourself:
Just as I wish to be free from suffering, free from ill-will, filled with loving-kindness and truly happy, so do all beings wish for these things.
Now, think of someone you care about deeply and have good feelings toward. Picture the person as clearly as you can and then make the wish: May (name) be free from suffering – May (name) be free from ill-will – May (name) be filled with loving-kindness – May (name) be truly happy.
As you do so, send these feelings to them, from your heart to theirs. Visualize the expression on this person’s face as they feel this sense of ease and comfort, peace and goodwill, loving-kindness, and true happiness welling up from nowhere. Chose as many persons as you want to direct these wishes toward.
When you are done, think of people you are not so close to, and that you have less affection for and repeat the practice, sending them those wishes. Then, you can expand the wish to people you don’t really know but encounter from time to time. When you are ready, think of people you might have difficulties with or for whom you feel a sense of dislike. They, too, are subject to any kind of suffering that you are. Send them those wishes, too.
Once you are done with individual people, move on to larger categories. For example, the people in your neighborhood. Then, move on to even larger categories like the city, the world, and the universe, sending all beings loving-kindness.
Directing the wish toward yourself
Now, turn all those feelings toward yourself. Remind yourself, that you are worthy and deserving of peace, love, and happiness, as everyone else. Loving and accepting yourself – with all your own failings and shortcomings – is the most direct part to loving and accepting others. Say to yourself:
As I am no less deserving than anyone else,
May I continue to be free from suffering.
May I continue to be free from ill-will.
May I continue to be filled with loving-kindness.
May I continue to be truly happy.
Conclude by holding a strong wish for these feelings to continue to remain strong.
I invite you to practice Metta for the next couple of days, and who knows, maybe weeks. I set myself the goal to practice it once for the next seven days, starting with today. And for all of you who like to listen to a guided version, I included a video. It is a bit different from what I presented here, though still a nice practice =)
Enjoy your day wherever you are and take care =)
Loving Kindness Meditation to Develop Mindfulness and Compassion