The traditional phrase for the first stage of metta or loving kindness meditation is “May I be well, may I be happy, may I be free from suffering.” You must say the phrase as if you mean it. Keep your focus on your emotions as you repeat the phrase. Leave time between each repetition so that you have time to absorb what effect it has. I often fit the phrase in with the rhythm of my breath.
In the second stage of the practice, think of a good friend, and wish them well. Next, call to mind someone you have no emotional connection with. Once you’ve called this person to mind, wish them well, using words or phrases, or your imagination.
Then cultivate Metta for someone you don’t get on with. It may be someone that you have long-standing difficulties with, or it may be someone that is normally a friend, but you have difficulties with right now. Call the difficult person to mind, and be honest about what you feel. There may well be feelings of discomfort. Notice any tendency you may have to think badly of that person, or to deepen the conflict you have with them and let go of those tendencies. Instead, wish them well. “May they be well, may they be happy, may they be free from suffering.”
Then in the last stage of the practice spread your well-wishing in wider and wider circles. Start with yourself, your friend, the neutral person, and the difficult person. See all four of you together, and wish all four people well. Try to do this equally for all four of you, and notice any tendency to “play favorites” by wishing your friend more happiness than the others. Then spread your well-wishing out in wider and wider circles, until you are wishing that all sentient beings are well and happy. Finally, you can imagine that you hold the world enfolded in your heart, and cherish it.
(Adapted from Wildmind Guide to Meditation.)
- Metta is an attitude of recognizing that all sentient beings can feel good or feel bad, and that all, given the choice, will choose the former over the latter.
- Metta is a recognition of the most basic solidarity that we have with others, this sharing of a common aspiration to find fulfillment and escape suffering.
- Metta is empathy. It’s the willingness to see the world from another’s point of view: to walk a mile in another person’s shoes.
- Metta is the desire that all sentient beings be well. It’s wishing others well.
- Metta is friendliness, consideration, kindness, generosity.
- Metta is an attitude rather than just a feeling. It’s an attitude of friendliness.
- Metta is the basis for compassion. When our Metta meets another’s suffering, then our Metta transforms into compassion.
- Metta is the basis for shared joy. When our Metta meets with another’s happiness or good fortune, then it transmutes into an empathetic joyfulness.
- Metta is boundless. We can feel Metta for any sentient being, regardless of gender, race, or nationality.
- Metta is the most fulfilling emotional state that we can know. It’s the fulfillment of the emotional development of every being.
- It’s our inherent potential. To wish another well is to wish that they be in a state of experiencing Metta.
- Metta is the answer to almost every problem the world faces today. Money won’t do it. Technology won’t do it. Metta will.