Loving-kindness, also known as metta, is the practice of unconditional love and forgiveness even in the face of past struggle or difficulty. This is one very common Buddhist practice, but the spirit of metta is by no means limited to Buddhism. Loving-kindness is a trait glorified by most major religions.
Despite the common presence of this ideal in cultures across the globe, the actual act of practicing loving kindness can be a tricky art. In this post we’ll look at a few tips for how to incorporate this practice into your daily life, as well as a good loving kindness meditation to get you started.
How To Practice Loving Kindness: 3 Tips for Practicing Metta into Your Daily Life
Develop a Daily Gratitude Habit
The first tip to begin practicing loving kindness in your life is to begin a practice of gratitude. Gratitude is an important habit for a number of reasons, and has been scientifically proven to help you improve brain function and lead a happier life.
In the context of loving-kindness, however, the importance of gratitude deals with how you interact with others. When you are consistently grateful, you train your brain to look for positive aspects in situations. When you deal with other people, then, you’ll automatically be on the lookout for these positive traits.
That means that even if you’re dealing with a situation in which it is difficult for you to forgive or get past a previous event, you’ll still be able to enjoy higher levels of compassion, and will at least start the practice of looking for reasons for forgiveness.
Believe it or not, the simple act of mindfulness, or developing an awareness of your surrounding environment, can also be a great way to expand upon loving kindness.
That’s because the entire point of mindfulness is to center you into the present moment, and when you are fully centered in the moment, you are unable to hold negative emotions. Mindfulness, in its purest form, requires letting go.
Developing a habit of mindfulness about things that don’t seem related to whatever your “big issue” with metta is can be a great way to build up strength and consistency, before tackling the larger issues you’re dealing with.
Take Time for Meditation
Finally, it’s important to remember to take time every single day to sit quietly and center yourself. Sit comfortably, focus on your breath, and allow your natural energies to flow.
You don’t have to do a “loving-kindness meditation” every day in order to improve your practice of metta. Any type of meditation will do. If you do want to work specifically on the loving kindness ideal, however, I recommend the meditation below.
Loving Kindness Meditation
Check out the following video for one of my favorite examples of a loving kindness meditation.