Loving Kindness

Loving kindness


In the plugged in digital world, the term meta is associated with data; it’s the information that web publishers send into cyberspace to entice Google’s bots to index their web pages. But in the Buddhist world, “metta” — with two “ts” — has a totally different meaning, best translated as “loving kindness.” One of the 10 paramis of the Theravada school of Buddhism and one of the four sublime states, it means love without clinging—a combination of benevolence, amity, friendship, compassion and empathy.

Cultivating loving-kindness in our daily lives is an essential part of finding inner serenity—a place where we can go when the world becomes too busy, too stressful, too confusing to sort out. Everyone needs this oasis—not a physical space, but a spiritual haven somewhere within where we can retreat for a few moments to regain our composure and simply breathe….like diving deep into stormy seas and discovering the deep, quiet depths below.

The loving kindness meditation is one of the easiest to learn. It consists of just a few sentences, but when they practiced with intention—they can change your world.


Loving Kindness Meditation

Sit quietly, close your eyes, and take three deep cleansing breaths. Allow your breathing to return to normal, and sit quietly for a few moments, connecting with your inner world. Name the emotions you find there. It doesn’t matter what they are: Anger, fatigue, annoyance, love, detachment, irritation—they are all acceptable—just part of your experience and who you are, .a human being struggling to make your way in the world. Let yourself connect with them without judgment—just acknowledge that they exist.

When you are ready, bring to mind a person in your life who you care deeply about. Try to picture him or her in your mind — hear his voice, see his face. When you have a good picture, say these words either to yourself or out loud as you send him or her your love:

May you be healthy.

May you be happy.

May you live with ease.

Repeat this as many times as you like, and then move on to the next step.

Now bring to mind another person—perhaps your boss or a friend you don’t see very often—someone with whom your emotional connection is less intense. Send this person the same message of compassion and love.

May you be healthy.

May you be happy.

May you live with ease.

Again, repeat the words until you feel that you have made the kind of connection you would like to make with the person you have in mind.

Now, reach deep into your heart and send the same message of deep, caring, non-judging love to yourself.

May I be healthy.

May I be happy.

May I live with ease.

As you do so, allow yourself to relax as deeply as you can so that you can experience he same empathy, forgiveness, compassion and love that you sent to others. This will probably be hard at first, but with practice it will come.

Finally, bring to mind all of humanity and repeat the message again.

May you be healthy.

May you be happy.

May you live with ease.

When you are ready, stop, open your eyes and connect with how you feel.

This short meditation typically takes about 10 minutes, but once you have practiced it for a while, just saying the words briefly to yourself will bring the feeling of metta back to consciousness and give you a measure of peace at any time, anywhere.

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