The Practice of Metta

Remember that the purpose of metta practice is to feel tenderness, softness and an opening of our hearts and not merely a mental repetition of metta phrases.

Length of practice

Serious practitioners of Metta meditation offer Metta for an hour or more morning and evening. Beginners may wish to begin by offering Metta for just 10-15 minutes each day. You may do the metta practice as a formal sitting meditation or while walking. A practitioner may also choose to integrate Metta practice with daily chores.

Method 

To begin, take a few deep breaths to quiet your mind and remind yourself of your intention for practicing loving kindness. Bring to mind one or more episodes where you felt your own goodness and kindness.

First Stage – Metta to Oneself 

Begin by offering Metta to yourself. Place your awareness on your heart area (the physical heart) and recite inwardly the metta phrases.

  1. May I be safe and protected.
  2. May I be peaceful and happy.
  3.  May I be healthy
  4. May I be peaceful

Keep reciting the phrases in the first person. Remember the practice is about FEELING tenderness and unconditional love and not just mentally repeat the metta phrases. The phrases may appear in different rhythms and take different tones or an image may appear. Allow everything to be.

If distracting thoughts arise, acknowledge them, let them be, make a mental note to return to them after your Metta practice, but quickly return to reciting the metta phrases to maintain concentration.

Stage Two  – Metta to Beneficiary 

When you are comfortable, try offering Metta to a beneficiary, someone who supports you, who has always “been on your side.” Forming visualizations of this person while reciting the phrases can be helpful; for example, imagining this beneficiary as a child or grandparent, can assist in ‘opening the heart.’

  1. May s/he be safe and protected.
  2. May s/he be happy.
  3. May s/he be healthy .
  4. May s/he have live in peace.

Stage Three – Metta to a loved one

  1. May s/he be safe and protected.
  2. May s/he be happy.
  3. May s/he be healthy .
  4. May s/he have live in peace.

Further Practice   

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 close friend.
  • A neutral person (someone you neither like nor dislike)
  • A difficult person (no need to start with the most difficult person, but someone whom you have a distaste for)
  • All beings, individuals, personalities, creatures. It may be helpful to break up this category into subcategories; i.e., all men, and then all women, all enlightened ones, and then, all unenlightened ones, all beings who are happy, and then all beings who are both happy and suffering, and all beings who are primarily suffering.


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2 Responses to The Practice of Metta

  1. Pingback: Day 26 – Forgiveness | The 30-10 Gratitude Challenge

  2. Pingback: The Practice of Metta | Advaharma

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