May all beings be happy, healthy, and free of suffering.
An ancient practice used primarily by Buddhists throughout history, Metta is a Pali word meaning love, friendliness, or kindness... Concisely put, loving-kindness. You don't have to be a Buddhist to benefit from this practice.
Loving-kindess is described as the heart fully awake in friendliness, compassion, and empathic joy. And while living in a state of loving kindness is a wonderful intention, it seems that judgment of others (and ourselves) too often creeps into our thoughts. So loving-kindness in itself (like yoga) is a practice, one that begins intentionally and with time can express outwardly into your life.
Coming back to your meditation cushion for a few minutes to offer yourself this ancient practice will not only bring you closer to a constant state of Metta, but also have positive ripple effects in the world around you.
I have found this meditation to be a wonderful place to start for beginners curious about meditation and wanting to try it for the first time.
Practice Metta meditation at home:
There are 5 stages to this practice, start with 1-2 minutes in each stage, and add on an extra minute to each stage as you progress.
-Begin in a comfortable seated position in a space that is free of clutter/distractions.
- Close your eyes, relax your jaw, and just breathe.
Stage 1 - Feel Metta for yourself
Bring your awareness to your self, the energy you feel within your self and say quietly:
May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I be free of suffering
May I be at peace
In between each of these mantras, take a slow, smooth breath. Visualize yourself happy, healthy, free of suffering, at peace with each breath.
Stage 2 - Feel Metta for a loved one
Picture someone close you to, visualize them, think of your connection, their great qualities, and feel love for them in your heart. Keeping their vision within you, quietly say:
May he/she be happy
May he/she be healthy
May he/she be free of suffering
May he/she be at peace
Again, take each of these phases slowly with your inhales, and as you exhale picture sending your energy of loving kindness to them.
Stage 3 - Feel Metta for someone neutral
Now think of someone you don't particularly like or dislike, this may be someone you don't know very well or an acquaintance. Picture them in your mind and repeat the phrases from stage 2.
Stage 4 - Feel Metta for someone you dislike
Next think of someone you actually dislike, an enemy or a foe, and picture them in your minds eye. Do not get caught up in negative feelings. Picture them in your mind and visualize them being surrounded by light, love, and happiness while repeating the phrases from stage 2.
Stage 5 - Feel universal Metta
Finally, picture the entire world, everyone and everything in it, and wish loving kindness for all.
Keeping this vision in your mind and heart, quietly say:
May all beings be happy
May all beings be healthy
May all beings be free of suffering
May all being be at peace
Do not underestimate your power to spread loving-kindness to all living things. Metta has a beautiful ripple effect: begin inwards, and it watch it spread outwards.
Rachelle Taylor is a love warrior, yoga teacher, and rookie meditator.
A tranquil spirit trapped in a busy body, Taylor is co-owner of Prairie Yogi Inc + Prairie Love Festival, a contributor for the POWERHOUSE newsletter, an inspired speaker, and winner of the YMCA Women of Distinction Award.