Loving Kindness Revisited

Loving Kindness or Metta Meditation

I’ve been teaching Loving Kindness Meditation in my classes this week, in honor of Valentine’s Day. We can all use a little more love in our lives. In the light of the tragedy which occurred on Valentine’s Day, I thought I would dedicate this blog to providing specific and detailed directions for the ancient practice of Loving Kindness (Metta) Meditation.

So here are the specific instructions:

Sit quietly, and become aware of your body, your heart, emotions, thoughts. Get comfortable and relax as much as you can: hands, feet, belly, shoulders, face…

Begin by saying the words of Loving Kindness to yourself. You can use the words below, or write your own. You may also just allow any words of kindness to arise.

May I be happy.

May I feel peaceful.

May I be safe from inner and outer harm.

May I feel free from suffering.

  • Yourself: In the first stage, send Metta (Loving Kindness) to yourself. Begin by becoming aware of yourself, and focusing on feelings of peace, calm, and tranquility. Repeat the words – this may feel awkward or even forced at first; if you continue, the words may begin to resonate for you. Feel free to improvise and change the words so they feel more organic to you.

Many people report that it is difficult to send these wishes to themselves. Over time it will get easier. Traditionally, one spends days or even months sending the wishes of Loving Kindness to oneself. I have found it is often easier to begin sending the wishes to others and progress to extending the wishes to yourself. Below is a suggested progression – this is actually the traditional progression, beginning with oneself. Spend a few moments with each person, but try not to become rigid – allow the meditation to flow naturally. If you forget the order or if you don’t remember the words, it’s ok.

  • Then, bring to mind someone you admire or respect: perhaps a spiritual teacher or friend. Extend the Loving Kindness wish to this person you look up to – maybe someone who has been a mentor to you. Picture this person as vividly as you can in your mind’s eye, feeling the emotions this person conjures up in you.

May you be happy.