“May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness. May they be free of suffering and the cause of suffering.” Excerpt from a Traditional Tibetan Buddhist Prayer
One of the most important Buddhist practices is that of Metta, or loving-kindness meditation. Loving-kindness is one of the Four Immeasurables taught by the Buddha. In the Visuddhimagga or The Path of Purification (one of Buddhism’s foundational texts), loving-kindness is defined as follows: “Loving-kindness has the mode of friendliness for its characteristic. Its natural function is to promote friendliness. It is manifested as the disappearance of ill will. Its footing is seeing with kindness. When it succeeds it eliminates ill will. When it fails it degenerates into selfish affectionate desire.” www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanamoli/PathofPurification2011.pdf
Put simply, metta is the sincere wish for the well-being of oneself and others and includes being open hearted to all beings, even toward one’s enemies.
Metta is practiced first toward oneself, as loving others is difficult without first loving ourselves. To begin your loving-kindness meditation, sit in a comfortable position and bring your awareness to your breath. As you allow deep breaths to flow in and out, imagine the breath moving through the center of your chest in the area of your heart. As you sit begin mentally repeating the following phrases: “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.”
Spend some time simply cultivating loving kindness toward yourself until you can really feel a connection to the intention of love and happiness. This may happen in one session, or may happen over many.
After a period of time directing loving-kindness toward yourself, call to mind a friend or loved one. Begin your practice as before: “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.” then bringing to mind your loved one and change the phrase to: “May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.”
Just as before, if any feelings of loving-kindness arise, connect the feelings with the phrases; the feelings may become stronger as you mentally repeat the words.
After you have spent some time cultivating your practice in this way, consider adding to your awareness thoughts of loving-kindness for a neutral person, somebody you know, but have no special feelings toward, and finally for someone you are having, or have had, difficulty with.
Practice with different people; however, keep the practice in the same order: self, a beloved person, a neutral person, then a hostile person. After each person, check in with your posture and breathe into any tight spots. If a distraction or a resentful thought arises, simply observe the thought and let it pass.
After you have moved through the practice from self to enemy, begin cultivation of loving kindness to all people and beings everywhere, repeating the phrases: “May all beings be happy. May all beings be well. May all beings be safe. May all beings be peaceful and at ease.”
As with any new meditation practice, metta meditation can take time to cultivate; allowing yourself time and patience without attachment to any specific outcome will make the process easier.
In the seventh and final article in this meditation series, we will explore the benefits of guided meditation.
Until next time, I wish you all the best with your practice meditation practice of choice, and please don’t forget to take advantage of the live psychic readings available here at voiceoftheangels.com!