The Ultimate Introduction to Loving Kindness Meditation
Loving Kindness, also known as Metta Meditation, is an ancient Buddhist practice of compassion, peace, and love. The point of metta is to take time to send high vibration love energy across the world, both to specific individuals as well as humanity as a whole.
In this post we’ll give a comprehensive introduction to the practice of metta and loving kindness.
What Is Metta Meditation? Origin and Meaning
The practice of loving kindness comes from several ancient Buddhist traditions, including Theravada and Tibetan practices. The practice is also known as metta in most traditional Buddhist texts.
Mehta is from the Pali language, and translates to mean the practice of benevolence, kindness, and heart-centered faith in others. A person who practices metta offers good will to all those he encounters.
How To Do A Loving Kindness Meditation: Getting Started
There are many ways to practice metta, but the general concept is to sit quietly and allow yourself to focus on developing a feeling of warmth, heart-centeredness, peace, and love for all of mankind.
Usually, this is done in stages, with different types of people represented throughout the meditation.
First, be sure to extend compassion and joy towards yourself. Many people overlook this step, but it’s an essential first step because sending yourself positive energy to begin the meditation helps to improve the efficacy of the remainder of the time spent.
Then, you can proceed out to send this same energy of love to others. These can be broken into several categories, including: friends, family, challenging acquaintances (such as someone with whom you’ve recent argued or who always triggers a stressful response from you), and strangers. During this phase of the meditation, center your attention on specific individuals or (in the case of a stranger) the specific idea of a person.
Envision this person in as much detail as possible, and imagine sending that person all of your love. Feel a sense of unity with the individual, and forgive him any transgressions against you. Understand he is human, and his true Self wishes you no harm; see any negative interactions as an expression of pain that you can resolve with love.
When you move into the third phase of the meditation, you expand this love from the specific idea of a person to the general well-being of mankind, or a large subset of mankind. Continue to expand the feeling, and eventually allow it to encompass the entire universe.
Taking It Off The Mat
It’s important to understand that the practice of metta is not limited to your time spent meditating. While focusing a series of meditations on this theme helps to achieve many of the benefits listed above, the real impact of loving kindness comes when you apply it to your day to day life.
This concept would be similar to Christian practice of Christ-consciousness, or “living God’s law.” It means taking every action with conscious intention out of respect for all living beings.
Benefits of Metta
There are many benefits to developing a habit of loving kindness, both from including it in your meditation routine to applying it to your daily life. Some of the top effects include:
- Increased Love and Happiness: It’s no surprise that one of the top benefits of a loving-kindness meditation practice is that you can learn to cultivate a higher degree of love and happiness in your life. When you focus on the feeling of love, you trigger your brain to release a number of happy-chemicals, leading to better mental and physical health.
- Increased Empathy and Compassion: One of the main concepts behind metta is the focus on sending love to others. Often, this involves practicing forgiveness, and seeking to understand that any negative behaviors you’ve experienced from others resulted from ignorance, and can be solved with love. You’ll find you begin to feel more empathy and compassion on a daily basis.
- Self-Acceptance: Many people overlook this benefit of loving kindness, but as you focus on increasing the joy and love in the world, accepting others as they are, you also accept yourself. As we mentioned above, it’s a good idea to start every session with a few moments sending yourself love as well.
- Purpose, Fulfillment, and Self-Worth: This last benefit might be a little more subtle, but cultivating a consistent feeling of love imbues a sense of fulfillment and purpose in your life. You begin to value yourself more, and see the importance of your role as a centered, well-intentioned being.
The Best Loving Kindness Scripts
There is no one specific script you need to use in order to practice this style of meditation. Take the following ideas and adjust them as you see fit for your own style and practice.
The key to being successful with this technique is to repeat each phrase multiple times, allowing yourself to feel the energy of it, before moving on to the next.
- May I be filled with loving-kindness.
- May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.
- May I be well in body and mind.
- May I be at ease and happy.
- May you live with ease, may you be happy, may you be free from pain.
- Just as I wish to, may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you live with ease and happiness.
- May your life be filled with happiness, health, and well-being.
Click here if you would like to download a loving kindness pdf with instructions and a guided script: loving kindness pdf download
(Thanks to the VA of Central California for providing this script.)
Guided Loving Kindness Audio Recordings and Videos
The following guided metta meditation is one of the easiest ways to get started with practicing loving kindness.
(credit goes to ggia.berkeley.edu)
Below are two of my favorite metta recordings from Youtube.
Guided Meditation Video for Compassion, Peace, and Love