Have you heard of metta meditation?
METTA MEDITATION: MEANING AND PRACTICE
In Pali language (the traditional language of Theravada Buddhism) metta means “benevolence“, “kindness“, “GOODWILL” (in Sanskrit maitrī), it is found both in the sacred texts of the Vedic Indians as well as in Buddhists texts. Very often it is known as meditation of kindness.
In Buddhist texts it is seen as a very important issue, the first of the “Four’ immeasurable” i.e. four virtues and their related practices for coltivating (brahmavihara).The other virtues in addition to kindness are:
- Compassion (a result of metta, to identify themselves in the sufferings of others),
- Empathetic joy (the ability to feel joy because the others are happy even if there is no reason to be part of the joy) and
- Equanimity (treating everyone with impartiality and serenity).
Mettā is also one of the “ten perfections” of Theravada Buddhism and is practiced at the end of a session of Vipassana.
HOW TO PRACTICE METTA MEDITATION
When you start it is important to begin one step at a time, lets see the metta meditation practice.
This meditation is practiced a few times a week and although the results are different for each person you must focus on moving forward with constancy and discipline.
And if during this practice you realize or discover that inside you there is sorrow, anger, or something very profound that you fail to cease and overcome alone, then it is best to ask for help!
The preparation phase
Choose a quiet place to relax in a good moment where you can not be disturbed.
Begin to breathe and concentrate on the flow of air that enters and exits from the nose and do it for some time until you feel ready.
The steps of metta meditation in brief:
- Breath of the heart:
Follow the path of your breath, note all the muscles that accompany it… the thoracic cage, the shoulders, the belly. Follow the path of the breath even when it exits your body.
Bring your awareness completely to the heart, try to feel the space it occupies inside your body the physical organ heart, and to listen to its beats.
Now concentrate on your fourth chakra and imagine, view or hear that whole engine of breathing is your heart chakra: The breathing starts and ends there, and gradually, purifies the air that you may inhale and exhale. Continue until you feel heat that emanates from the centre of the chest.
- Sincere love and without reserve for yourself, for a friend and/or for the Mentor:
Send mentally this heat to the whole body and then also to your mind and put your attention on any blocks, rigidity, or numbness that impede your practice.
If you find any blocks, watch them without judgment and then try to hear, view or imagine that you are capable of loving infinitely and unconditionally. Give a smile to each of the obstacles that you find one by one, and fill them with love.
When you are finished, choose one of these phrases and confirm it mentally or in a low voice until you feel full of love for yourself.
- I shall be free from all dangers interior and exterior.
- I shall be safe and secure
- I shall be free from mental chains
- I shall be happy.
- I shall be free from physical pain and suffering.
- I shall be healthy and strong.
- I shall live in this world happily, in peace with joy, with ease.
Choose a sentence from those above and apply it also for your friend or for your mentor.
- Love for those to whom we are neutral:
Now think of a person towards whom you do not feel anything in particular, neither positive nor
Negative. Repeat the sentence and send them love, but if you find it difficult to do, than try just to wish them benevolence and protection. When you feel ready, move to the next person.
- Love for those who we do not know:
As for the neutral person, now view, imagine or feel the presence of a person you do not know, maybe someone who you meet on the street or at the supermarket… and redo the same procedure: repeat the sentence that you have chosen (or also just wish benevolence and protection) until you feel strong and sincere the energy of goodwill that is released from your heart.
- Love for an enemy /a hostile person:
After the person you do not know, imagine, view or feel the presence of a hostile person or who you consider an enemy. It must be a person towards whom you feel resentment, and even if it can be very difficult, repeat the usual procedure.
If you are experiencing difficulties, you can say “To the best of my ability I wish that he/she can…”.
If the difficulties become too many or you feel bad or strongly uncomfortable, return to imagine/view/hear the mentor. And Repeat this process each time that the difficulties get too big.
- Love for the existence:
When you are finished with the hostile person, you can imagine, view or hear that you are sending your kindness and wish love and protection to all living beings, to the planet, to all the people of the world.
You can also simply use a final sentence, for example “I wish that all living beings be protected, safe, healthy, free and happy”.
The Metta Meditation is meditation of loving-kindness, hence this can help us not only to find peace but also to spread serenity and donate a little of this peace to others.
If you want to deepen and start with the basics of yoga take a look at our ebook yoga for everyone
If you are interested in meditation take a look at our course on MINDFULNESS!