Wildmind Buddhist Meditation

Lovingkindness Meditation

Sit : Love : Give

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Lovingkindness meditation

We have various lovingkindness meditations available in our online store.
The Metta Bhavana, or Development of Lovingkindness, practice is one of the most ancient forms of Buddhist practice, one that has been passed down in an unbroken line for over 2,500 years.

We’re often taught as children that we should love others. Religious teachings say, for example, that we should “love others as ourselves.” But how do we learn to love others? And what happens if we don’t particularly like, never mind love, ourselves? The development of lovingkindness meditation practice is the practical means by which we learn to cultivate love for ourselves and others.

The practice helps us to actively cultivate positive emotional states towards ourselves and others, so that we become more patient, kind, accepting, and compassionate.

It’s part of a series of four practices which lead to the arising of:

  • lovingkindness
  • compassion (empathizing with others’ suffering)
  • empathetic joy (rejoicing in others’ wellbeing and joy)
  • and equanimity (patient acceptance of both joy and suffering, both our own and others’).

The metta bhavana is the foundation practice for this series of meditations.

The practice, leading as it does to the realization of compassion, is central to Buddhism, to the extent that the Dalai Lama has said “My religion is kindness.” While this statement may appear almost platitudinous, it’s actually indicative of something profound about spiritual practice.

How to get started

  1. Read our introduction to lovingkindness
  2. Learn techniques for cultivating lovingkindness
  3. Start cultivating lovingkindness

Much of our unhappiness comes from the desire to be happy at the expense of others. It’s really very ironic that in grasping after happiness in this way we end up causing ourselves pain. It’s like sticking your hand into what you think is a cool stream in order to find relief on a hot day, only to discover that the water is boiling.

Buddhist theory teaches, and practice demonstrates, that happiness comes from empathizing with others and from seeing their wellbeing and their suffering as being important as our own.

It’s not that we set aside our own needs entirely and become martyrs in the popular sense of the word, but that we recognize that one of our needs is to help others meet their own needs. In meeting our need to help others meet their needs we find that we become happier: a layer of self-induced (and selfishness-induced) suffering starts to dissolve.

Realizing this and working it out in our lives through the practice of kindness is a major part of Buddhist practice. In fact we could say, as the Dalai Lama implies, that developing a sense of connectedness with others and overcoming selfishness is the essence of the spiritual path.

Comments

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Comment from laughingyogini (carolyn grady)
Time: December 31, 1969, 11:59 pm

Lovingkindness meditation is a great way to combat negativity in yourself and others : http://www.wildmind.org/metta

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Comment from stephani faulkner
Time: June 14, 2007, 1:21 pm

i have a question: what if when you’ve set aside your needs, even things you want to do, to help better another’s life. and still unhappiness looms? my situation is that i have done that then the individual i try to help will then soon after yell at me and pile all her negative and unhappy feelings on me. no matter what i do, even when i do nothing but bve there i am still treated that way……i guess my question is this: why even if i try to me others needs am i unhappy. i am not trying to seek my own personal gain at their expense.

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Comment from Minx
Time: June 19, 2007, 1:37 am

Maybe the lesson here is that your practice is never going to enable you to control other people. That negative, dumping person is just going to do their thing – and that is not within your control. What *is* within your control is how you react to their behaviour. You do not *have* to become unhappy in reaction to their behaviour – you can choose to react in a variety of ways to their behaviour (from, say, thumping them to showing huge amounts of compassion – it’s a long scale!).

Their unhappiness is their problem – it does not have to be yours, or result in any disquiet for you. Hopefully your practice will help you find that quiet place between reacting and choosing your response so that you can choose not tohurt yourself when you are around this person’s behaviour.
Peace to you,
Minx

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: June 19, 2007, 6:22 am

Hi Stefani,

I think it’s important to remember that the first stage of the metta practice is about cultivating lovingkindness for yourself. This involves recognizing and valuing our own needs — and only then do we go on to cultivate lovingkindness for others.

We don’t stop with cultivating metta for ourselves but neither do we cut out that step and just start sacrificing ourselves for others. If we do start trying to meet others needs without taking our own into account then we’re going to become very unhappy — we try in effect to “buy” other people’s affection by negating ourselves and taking only their needs into account. And we probably try to buy love in this way because we’re not giving it to ourselves.

Now we can look at ourselves doing this and then use it as an excuse to beat ourselves up even more, but I think it’s wiser to recognize that underlying every action we take is a desire to achieve wellbeing. Deep down we all have a desire for wholeness and wellbeing. Even our misguided actions — like ignoring our own needs — are just failed strategies for finding happiness. But the underlying desire for wholeness is still there, and it just needs to find better strategies.

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Comment from Ivana
Time: August 9, 2007, 3:52 pm

Hello Stephani.
Try this-Sit at home, relax, breath on Your nose slowly, and then visualize Avalokiteshvara going down from the top of the head of person You are trying to help, through the head, neck-throat and down to the heart simultaneously reciting mantra Om Ma Ni Pad Me Hum. Leave Avalokiteshvara in the heart of the person. And “leave to Avalokiteshvara to finish the job” for You, when the right time comes …When You are near that person, do not talk too much, just breath slowly for You and that person. She\he will calm down…but do not give too much importance to anybody, it is feeding their ego, and the reaction is opposit of wanted. Everything is illusion and dreamlike…Greetings from Serbia.

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Comment from sangos
Time: February 28, 2008, 6:03 am

I personally use this imagery to idealize Buddha’s metta practice…Christ dying the most horrifying death on the cross and yet he says ” Father forgive them because they do not….”, what can be a greater edition of ‘extreme’ metta. If I can achieve even a tiniest fraction of that level I guess I will experience the Brahma viharas!!!

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Comment from Danny
Time: May 23, 2008, 10:35 pm

I have for years had a problem with compassion and helping others. Not that I don’t do it, I try to do whatever I can to help others. But I feel guilty inside that I am doing these good deeds to make myself feel better. A feeling of selfishness can at times overcome me, because I wonder if I would do these good deeds if there were no personal satisfaction obtained from it. Does that make sense? I help others, and feel good for a moment, then feel selfish for it. I suppose by this logic I will never find happiness. It seems and unending cycle here.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: May 24, 2008, 8:37 pm

Hi Danny,

That’s a really interesting question.

One of the needs we have is to help other people, so when we help others we’re also helping to meet our own needs. It’s for this reason that Marshall Rosenberg, the teacher of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) says that we never do anything for another person. That doesn’t mean that we can’t be truly compassionate and that everything we do is selfish, it just means that we help ourselves by helping others. That’s not a bad thing — it’s just how things are.

It’s been shown in fact that in experiencing or exercising compassion we become happier. You might want to read Daniel Goleman’s “Destructive Emotions:

In May 2001, in a laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, a Tibetan Buddhist monk donned a cap studded with hundreds of sensors that were connected to a state-of-the-art EEG, a brain-scanning device capable of recording changes in his brain with speed and precision. When the monk began meditating in a way that was designed to generate compassion, the sensors registered a dramatic shift to a state of great joy.

As Goleman put it, “The very act of concern for others’ well-being, it seems, creates a greater state of well-being within oneself.”

It’s natural and intrinsic to compassion that it benefits us. That’s a reality that we simply need to accept. It’s really a great thing. Helping others helps us! Great! There’s nothing selfish about being happy, or about seeking happiness.

I’d suggest that the way to break your vicious cycle is two fold: first, accept the happiness you feel when you help others. It’s natural, and good. And why would we help others if it didn’t feel good? We’ve evolved pleasant feelings to keep us doing things that help our survival as a species. Sex feels good. Eating feels good. Helping others feels good. There’s a reason for these good feelings — communities of people who eat, procreate, and help each other will tend to survive.

Second, feel compassion for yourself when you experience guilt about feeling happy about having helped others. Notice where the unpleasant feelings are in the body and send them metta. Regard them as being a part of yourself that is suffering and that needs warmth and empathy. Help that part of yourself just as you would help others.

Fare well! And be happy!

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Comment from Danny
Time: May 25, 2008, 3:31 pm

Thank you for your insight. I know that there is nothing wrong with feeling good about helping others. It is the fact that it seems an involuntary response on my part that bothers me. I began my meditation practices years ago after a suicide in my family. Perhaps a year later, for no good reason that I can pinpoint, I practiced less and less until ultimately I have gone some years without any thought given to it at all. I am only now beginning to practice again, trying to realign you might say. I can’t say enough good things about this site. It seems so many on the internet are here to make money off of people looking for help. This is one of very few sites I have found with open and free information on the subject. Many thanks.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: May 26, 2008, 5:08 pm

Hi Danny,

These kinds of involuntary responses where we have an unpleasant feeling arising are called vedanas in Buddhism. They arise because of past conditioning, so if you were often criticized as a child for being selfish and encouraged to be self-sacrificing then an unpleasant feeling will tend to arise when you feel good about doing something for others.

Vedana, in Buddhism, is ethically neutral, which means that you’re not doing anything wrong in experiencing them. And there’s nothing you can do, in the short term, to stop them arising. Where ethics comes in is how we respond to these unpleasant vedanas. We can simply note the unpleasant sensation’s existence and wish ourselves well because there’s an element of suffering, and keep going on about our business, or we can give rise to a stream of self-critical and self-doubting thinking, which will inevitably be accompanied by emotions of doubt, ill-will, etc. With mindfulness we have a choice about how to respond.

In time, and with practice. what happens is that the vedanas that arise are different. Sometimes this can happen quite quickly when we consciously adopt another way of seeing things (what’s sometimes called “reframing a situation”) and when that new viewpoint sticks. It can help to adopt a mantra to help drive that new viewpoint in to the mind — for example you could repeat, “It’s good to feel good about helping others,” or “It’s okay to experience discomfort.” Maybe you could try this, or perhaps make up your own mantra.

Thanks for your kind comments about the site. We do want to help as many people as possible.

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Comment from kevin
Time: May 29, 2008, 9:24 pm

Stefani and Bodhipaksa,
Jesus taught that the way to attain your own happiness was to help others before yourself. He taught Infinity first, others
second, and yourself last.
Namaste and Blessed Be!
In Love,
Kevin

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: May 30, 2008, 9:07 am

Hi Kevin,

That’s interesting. Do you have a reference for “help others before yourself”? I’m aware of Jesus having said repeatedly “Love thy neighbor as thyself” but not “before thyself.” The clear implication (o the version I’m familiar with) is that we should love ourselves and extend that love to others.

Stephanie’s problem seemed to be that she was trying to love others while not loving herself (or taking care of her own needs, which amounts to the same thing). Since what gives light must sustain the burning, that’s simply not a path to well being, however noble it may seem at first glance.

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from shevon
Time: July 16, 2008, 4:12 am

my problem is this that i cannot come out of my past ,i was working out of city when i came to know that my mother passed

away and i have a guilt and feel bad about it.my realtionshio with dad is healthy and good and he lives with me for some and
then goes back to the place i lived.But life is like very tough i still think and cannot forgove myself?what do i do?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: July 17, 2008, 7:38 pm

Hi Shevon,

I’m very sorry to hear about your loss. To be honest I’d suggest talking to a counselor because you need to explore why it is that you’re experiencing guilt about being away when your mother died. There’s no doubt a lot to unpack there.

In spiritual terms, in Buddhism there’s a belief that how we thing about those who have passed can still affect them. They may in fact still be around, observing our responses and being confused because they don’t understand what’s happening to them. At least this is the traditional view in some schools. Based on that view, it’s considered important to continue cultivating lovingkindness for the person who has died, wishing them well as they go through a difficult period of coming to terms with the fact that they are no longer alive. This helps us too, as well.

This isn’t much, I know, but I hope it helps.

All the best for you and your family,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from shevon
Time: July 18, 2008, 5:12 am

well ur rite coz sometimes i feel that she is close to me whn i sleep i feel she is around me and watching over me and helpingh
me with my life by coming into my dreams.The only main gulit is this that mom loved me a lot and i m the only child of her and
she wanted to say somthin which she wasnt.i fear the same for my dad and dont wanna mom let go coz i wanted to b there
at her death bed??Please advise i see night mares and live in fear thta i might loose dad the same way……..

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: July 19, 2008, 10:00 am

Hi Shevon,

You wrote: “Please advise”.

I already did give some advice (see above), but it sounds generally as if cultivating mindfulness and lovingkindness would help you a great deal. Mindfulness would help you to spot unhelpful thought patterns emerging and give you the freedom to disengage from them. Lovingkindness practice would help develop more positive emotional responses so that you’re less anxious.

I’m afraid there are no magic words of advice I can give you that will take away the pain you’re experiencing. You have to actually do the practice. There’s plenty to learn from on this site or elsewhere. Without a doubt, a face-to-face class would also be helpful.

I wish you well,
Bodhipaksa

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Pingback from The truth of not suffering: The Buddha’s teachings on happiness | Wildmind Buddhist Meditation
Time: July 24, 2008, 7:45 pm

[...] reply to this question is to remind you of the Metta Bhavana meditation practice, and how the first stage is on cultivating loving-kindness for oneself. The implication I draw here [...]

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Comment from Thomas
Time: January 15, 2009, 12:26 pm

I also suffer from a chemical embalance, which in return causes some minor to major depression. The only thing that seperates my so called “depression” from others is the fact that it was induced by heavily abusing alcohol and drugs at a very young age, in return my mind did not develop in some areas where it should have and even was damaged in some recepotors. For me constant contact with my higher power and an attitude of selflessness and compassion considerably uplifts my mood. Added with the daily routine of prayer and meditation the so called “depression”, “chemical embalance” is typically put into recession and I live my life one day at a time sober, free from the burden of my negativity and the chemically induced pleasure that I formely sought to relive all my internal warfare. Through pain comes growth, and at 21 years of age I am blessed to be living and I give all the glory to my higher power and the sernity aquired through any form of meditative study and divine practice.

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Comment from Sue
Time: January 17, 2009, 9:12 am

Thomas,
Your personal story is inspiring. I have taken many years to get to this point of spritual growth – and yet am still only beginning. I consider my childhood problems of emotional abuse a gift – without them I would not have unravelled and started again. I can help myself and others to a far greater extent than I ever thought possible both at home and at work

with lovingkindness
Sue

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Comment from barbara Wright
Time: February 24, 2009, 12:10 pm

blessing on your loving web page

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Comment from Danny
Time: March 10, 2009, 9:48 am

For some reason I decided to come back and read this thread and your response to my writing again. I was struck this time by the realization that, in fact, I do harbor some suffering from my elders calling me conceited or self-absorbed as a very young child. It would seem to make perfect sense in explaining my negative feelings toward personal happiness. I’m not sure why it didn’t click the first time I read your response, but the pieces seem to fit perfectly. My uncle getting upset and calling me conceited is actually among my very first/earliest memories. I actually can’t say for sure, but this may be my first memory. Well, I thank you for your time and thoughtful response.

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Comment from Tuan
Time: July 16, 2009, 2:35 pm

This is a very interesting thread. Bodhipaksa you’re so wise, many blessing to you.

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Comment from Andre
Time: August 31, 2009, 12:01 am

I’m finding very little conflict with the middle road and Christian understanding. Morality, concentration and wisdom were taught by many spiritual people… loving kindness. Jesus I was told was real big on forgiveness. A Catholic priest told me 70×7 has its limits too.

You may get to a point where the one you are helping has no redeeming quality and there are others deserving of your attention. I’m getting to a point where the well is running dry. I was reading something Rinpoche wrote about one individual becoming the object of your anger or love and we need to be there for all sentient beings.

I was playing favorites in the first place. I could have used this information along time ago.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 1, 2009, 10:10 am

Hi Andre,

Ah, that’s an interesting observation. I think often when we pour a lot of our love into one unrewarding relationship, there’s a lot more going on than just love. There’s probably an identification being made with the success of the relationship — if it goes well we think we’re doing well and if it goes badly we think that we are failing. We see the relationship as ourselves and vice versa.

There’s often attachment to the idea of “saving” someone as well, so that we can earn their gratitude at the end, once we’ve turned the relationship around, and then feel really good about ourselves.

It’s worth working at relationships, of course, but sometimes they’re just not salvageable and they become a waste of our time and energy. When we’re drained and unhappy as the result of trying to change a person who just doesn’t want to change (and why not — after all, not changing is getting them lots of attention) we’re not doing anyone any favors.

Thanks for a stimulating comment.

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Comment from Amitasuri
Time: November 3, 2009, 7:29 pm

Wow – 1st time I’ve been on here. I’m really enjoying and appreciating people’s willingness to share themselves so courageously and Bodhipaksa’s compassionate and insightful responses.
Great site, thanks!

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: November 3, 2009, 7:36 pm

That was very kind of you, Amitasuri! Do come back. And we have a whole blog section that’s a bit separate, with one-off articles rather than structured guides to meditation. Sunada and others publish some very good material there.

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Comment from Zenball
Time: November 9, 2009, 8:54 pm

I am confused about how lovingkindness and emptiness goes to gether.
Why we have to attach (by lovingkindness) to illusions (emptiness)?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: November 10, 2009, 1:47 pm

Hi Zenball,

I guess this is your koan. Lovingkindness doesn’t involve attachment. It arises in the absence of attachment. And it’s not possible to completely realize compassion for suffering beings until you realize that they are empty of self-existence.

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Comment from Shashi
Time: November 17, 2009, 1:03 pm

Hello
I would like to develop compassion, but I’m afraid I might be kind of insincere in doing so. What if I’m trying to be kind only to make myself feel like a compassionate person, i.e. feeding my ego – taking the focus off my own suffering and others’ and just putting on a show? How do you have the right motivation? Is my question clear?

Shashi

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: November 17, 2009, 1:50 pm

Hi Shashi,

That’s a very good question. I’d answer that our motives at the start are always going to be mixed, and that we simply shouldn’t keep second-guessing ourselves, worrying that we may be practicing for the wrong reasons. When the rubber hits the road you’ll find out soon enough in what ways your motives are unhelpful. For example when you want to be seen as compassionate so that people will like you and be grateful, you’ll see resentment arising in your mind as soon as someone doesn’t give you the praise you think you deserve. You then have something concrete to work with — a feeling of resentment and its underlying craving — which is much more useful than trying to guess in what sort of ways your motives may be impure.

In short, the path is self-correcting. Your own suffering will tell you when you’ve been feeding the ego.

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Mark L.
Time: December 2, 2009, 5:37 pm

I’ve been doing metta mediation for over a year now, and the one thing that I’m worried or confused about is practicing metta on someone I’d like to not harm me anymore.

For instance I have a really tough next door neighbor that makes noises all hours of the night and throughout the day and although I’ve nicely approached them about it a couple of times they still proceed to ignore my request. I’m on the fence on including them in my mediation because it may be a selfish act (for them to quit slamming the door) is it not?

I’m stuck.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: December 2, 2009, 10:17 pm

Hi Mark,

I’d say the first person you might want to develop metta for is yourself. It’s obviously a source of pain for you that your neighbors are not only noisy but don’t take your needs into account. So I’d suggest that you acknowledge your pain and send yourself some compassion.

But as for including them in your well-wishing, there may well be an element of selfishness because you’d like them to be quieter, but that’s something you’ll just have to work through. After all, they’re probably not going to be quieter and so you’re going to have to find other motives for wishing them well. Ultimately when you’re wishing them well you’re doing something for yourself anyway — it’s your feelings of anger that you’re counteracting. And that’s also going to help you suffer less, because railing in your mind against your neighbors is going to cause you suffering. If you can learn not to do that then you’ll be happier. You may even get to the point where the noise just doesn’t bother you.

all the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Fred
Time: December 8, 2009, 8:45 am

Hi from sweden:)

First I would like to thank you for your work with this website, it’s very inspiring!

I am 31 years old and have a history of depressions and anxiety syndromes. I have attended a 8 week mindfulness program and learnt to watch my mind.

I entered Buddhism mainly to keep the motivation for the mindfullness training going but now I feel that things like Metta Bhavana would be good to learn for me. Busshism has made me realize how little I love myself.

Since I started with Buddhism a couple of weeks back, I have had more really happy and joyful days than I have in years. I have tasted the incredible joy of feeling good about myself as whole even with the “faults” included…haven’t been able to feel like that in years. And I want to credit the Love and Kindness confept for this.

On the other hand, during the last couple of weeks, there have been occations where I have felt my old “symptoms” more strongly than usual. These have been moments when I haven’t been able to “counter” my negative thoughts with the Loving Kindness concept. Then I have felt so much despair, more lost than ever.

Buddhism resonates so well with the core of my being and I believe it to be the right path for me. But I also don’t want to make “matters worse”.

So my question is what can I do to make me react less when my mood goes from good to bad?

Have I too little patience or acceptence? Have I become too attached to feeling happy? Is it the perfectioniost/strong performer in me?

I cannot be the first novice in Buddhism to come across these questions. What do you think is the right thing to do?

Best

Fred

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: December 8, 2009, 1:17 pm

Hi Fred,

First, I’m so glad to hear that you’ve found tools to improve the quality of your life.

I think you’ve intuitively hit upon the source of the difficulties you’ve been experiencing. We do need to cultivate patience and acceptance of the ups and downs of our mental states. It does sound as if you’ve become attached to feeling happy, and so when your happiness diminishes you feel despondent.

One core problem that looms large in depression is identifying our mental states with ourselves. We experience an unpleasant emotion, and we think this is a sign that we are bad, or that something’s wrong with us. But actually, it’s just that there’s an unpleasant emotion pleasant. That’s all. We don’t have to turn a simple experience into a story about our own worth.

Conversely, when a pleasant emotion is present, we have a tendency to think that this is some kind of validation of ourselves. But again, it’s just a pleasant emotional state. It’s impermanent and it’s not an inherent part of us. So we watch it as it inevitably passes, and we accept its passing.

As a short-term goal, I’d suggest that you identify not with the experiences that are passing through your mind, but with the mental space through which they pass. Ultimately that’s an idea you’ll have to let go of as well, but you’ll find it liberating.

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Mark L.
Time: December 10, 2009, 11:38 pm

i appreciate your words. you’ve surely shed some light on a situation for me that i have been dealing with for months now…

thank you for taking the time to reply the way you did.

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Comment from Fred
Time: December 11, 2009, 5:40 am

Thank you for your informative reply, I kind of felt I was already onto the answer my self.

You said: “As a short-term goal, I’d suggest that you identify not with the experiences that are passing through your mind, but with the mental space through which they pass. Ultimately that’s an idea you’ll have to let go of as well, but you’ll find it liberating.”

I have done so during my mindfulness breathing meditations and yes it is liberating and feels surprisingly true. Although I have read about this and heard it from many sources before, it’s not until now that I have actually felt it’s thruthfulness in meditation.

Of course, this insight leads to more questions; so if I am the “mental space” or the “watcher” who observes and experiences the thoughts, feelings that passes by… without identifying with them.

Then the worrying thoughts and feelings that pop into my awareness are as little “me” as other external circumstances, which can be appreciated as “bad” like rainy weather or if I catch the flu (things that are easy to see that they are not “me” because they are so external and out of my control).

Isn’t there a risk that one can become totally “detatched” or an “uncaring” person with this perspective? What is your experience?

Thanks again for you work:)

Fred

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: December 11, 2009, 10:04 am

Hi Fred,

Of course, this insight leads to more questions; so if I am the “mental space” or the “watcher” who observes and experiences the thoughts, feelings that passes by… without identifying with them…

Well, from a traditional point of view (i.e. from the point of view of the earliest Budhist writings) that’s not quite true; ultimately we can’t identify ourselves with any one part of our experience. That’s why I said this was a short-term goal (although I meant short term as in “years”) and why you’d have to let go of that perspective eventually (meaning once that perspective itself becomes constricting). But for a good long time it would be very useful as a practice to identify with the blue sky rather than the clouds.

Then the worrying thoughts and feelings that pop into my awareness are as little “me” as other external circumstances, which can be appreciated as “bad” like rainy weather or if I catch the flu (things that are easy to see that they are not “me” because they are so external and out of my control).

That’s exactly it. These mental states are not you. You’re not defined by them or limited by them. They’ll pass and you’ll still be there.

Isn’t there a risk that one can become totally “detached” or an “uncaring” person with this perspective? What is your experience?

It’s actually the other way around! Getting caught up in our inner dramas leaves little energy left over for being compassionate towards others.

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Comment from Fred
Time: December 15, 2009, 4:50 pm

Thank you again for your kind and patient answer.

I was thinking about something I read the other day, that “self-cherishing” is not a good thing according to buddhism. One should cherish only others. It seems to be a very strong belief in the butthist practice.

Doesn’t that stand in conflict with the metta practice, where the firat step is to “cherish” oneself?

Maybe it’s the language barrier playing with me here. Please enlighten me on the difference between self-cherishing and doing the metta towards oneself practice.

Thanks again

Fred

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: December 15, 2009, 5:45 pm

If you read that in Buddhism we should “cherish only others” then I’m afraid that was a distortion of the original Buddhist teachings. Self-cherishing isn’t a problem in itself — it’s when our circle of concern is limited to ourselves and excludes others that there’s a problem. If you read about “self-cherishing” as a bad thing then it was probably meaning in a restrictive sense.

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Fred
Time: December 16, 2009, 6:06 am

Well, there’s quite a lot of it if you just google self cherishing. Example:
http://aboutdharma.org/dharma-teachings.php/ But there’s loads more…

Things like “don’t look for faults in others, only look for faults in yourself” becomes somewhat bad advice for someone suffering from depression…all we do all day long is blaming ourselves for our imagined shortcomings…

As a new adventurer in the Buddhist teachings I want unity not paradoxes. Please enlighten me:)

Best

Fredrik

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: December 17, 2009, 9:30 am

Hi Fred,

Well, you’re talking about a tradition that’s existed for 2,500 years, and that has been spread over a large number of cultures that sometimes haven’t had any contact with each other, and that has adapted to the various cultures it’s encountered. So from that perspective you’re unlikely to find an absolutely consistent message.

Even if you look at the earliest teachings, you’ll find that the Buddha taught different practices to those of different personality types. So for someone obsessed with looking at the faults of others you’ll find teachings like “don’t look for faults in others, only look for faults in yourself.” It’s meant to be helpful advice to someone with a particular disposition, in much the same way that particular medicines in a pharmacy are intended for particular illnesses. By way of analogy, if you have diarrhea it doesn’t undermine the effectiveness of medicine in a whole to point out that laxatives are not what you need right now — you just bypass the laxative section of the pharmacy and look for the medicines appropriate to your condition.

So you’re not going to find unity in the way you’re suggesting. Where you do find unity is that all Buddhist teachings are intended to help us get from a state of suffering to a state of freedom from suffering. Not every teaching or practice is suitable for everyone at all times. But the Buddhist tradition is like a vast pharmacy of the soul, and there are teachings in there that will help you.

I suppose a teaching like “only cherish others, don’t cherish yourself” is probably meant for people who have excessive self-cherishing, to the extent that they don’t think about others at all. For a while they may need to focus exclusively on others. For you, as someone who experiences depression, I’d suggest that having metta for both self and others is important. But you definitely need to cultivate self-metta in order to overcome your self-blaming tendencies.

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Comment from Fred
Time: December 18, 2009, 5:12 am

Hi Bodhi (like in the movie Point Break:))

I think you have a really good point there.

I also asked the question in a Swedish Buddhist forum an got an interesting and wise answer. I’d link to it but I guess most of you guys don’t speak Swedish:) so I’ll explain what he said instead:

“The buddhist definition of Metta/Maitri is whishing someone to be happy and this someone might as well be you” …

“self-cherishing is thinking yourself is the most important and central thing in the universe, we will do anything only to satisfy ourselves often on other people’s cost” …

“all beings want to feel good, be free from suffering. in this view all these beings together is more important than us” …

in conclusion: “we should develop Metta for ourselves, it’s absolutely vital for being able to lover others. At the same time we should develop Metta for others. Loving oneself is not an “ego centric” thing to do according to Buddhism, because in the end it’s all about seeing through the illusion of our ego. On the other hand self-cherishing is an ego-centric act because it is build upon the illusion of an ego, separate from everything else”

this is a beautiful explanation I think so I wanted to take the time to translate it for you guys.

Namaste

Fred

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Comment from Elizabeth
Time: December 22, 2009, 12:24 am

I just found this site tonight after returning home from a new yoga class with a new instructor. i’m very new to the practice. just a few months in. until tonight i would never sit in front of the mirrors in the studio. obviously struggling with self-love. tonight she suggested i move closer, making me face the mirror. i made it my intention to find self-love during my yoga practice. working to better my imperfections, but also accepting that improvement comes with time.

just wanted to say how happy i am to have found this site. always open to any advice or words of wisdom =)

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Comment from Despina
Time: March 4, 2010, 8:58 pm

The most beautiful, enriching and calming quest I have had the pleasure to find and want to learn so much more.
I love to love…
To learn to harness, be mindful and find peace within is more attractive to me than chasing rainbows and keeping up with the Jone’s.

In my humble first step toward a deeper inner strength, I ask…
Is there a line?
To emanate loving kindness limitless…
You are being taken for granted, clearly abused…you maintain loving kindness…the more you give the harder you are tested…
Like being a rabbit in a den full of li ons.
Do you maintain loving kindness within the den or do you find an exit?

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Comment from Sue
Time: March 5, 2010, 7:24 am

I am interested to see others replies.

From my current perspective (having just separated from my husband in what was turning into, and I use a label only to give a broad and brief desciption, an emotional abusive situation) these are my thoughts.

To consciously put oneself in the position of being abused would surely be to abuse oneself knowingly which cannot be consistent with self love and without self love one cannot love others fully. Unconsciously being abused is a bit different but the feeling saomething is not right or comfortable would usually be there in some way.

So – maintaining appropriate boundaries whether that is in the person’s presence or from a distance is loving yourself and them. It is hard to see the good in people if you are letting them abuse you and I am conscious of the saying ‘let go – it wasn’t the situation holding onto you , you were holding on to it’

I am also learning that thinking and trying hard can make things worse and I am better off maintaining my inner peace and ‘feeling my way’.

At the moment my husband and I have a better relationship ‘separated’ – but there is no real separation from anything or anyone- it is all one.

Sue

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Comment from Sunada
Time: March 5, 2010, 1:09 pm

Dear Despina,

If you’re feeling abused, taken for granted, and like a rabbit in a lion’s den, then something is clearly wrong here. You need to get out of that lion’s den, pronto! I think the idea of compassion is too often thought to mean that we must sacrifice ourselves. This is not what the Buddha taught. Compassion always begins with taking care of ourselves first, so we are strong and healthy enough to offer our best to others. The way I see it, transcending the boundary of self and other doesn’t mean to squash myself in favor of others. I prefer to see it more in terms of “we” instead of “you vs. me.” On balance, what’s best for all of us involved in the situation? Is the world better served by my feeling beaten down? I doubt it! If you need to get out of a situation to save yourself, I think that’s a sensible thing to do! It turns wrote on this topic recently in the Wildmind blog. You can find it here: http://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/learning-to-love-ourselves

With metta to you,
Sunada

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Comment from Brendan
Time: April 15, 2010, 8:58 am

This is something of a fundamental question, coming what I have read and tried to practice in terms of cultivating metta, and of observing but not clinging to emotions.

The question is “Is love an emotion?”

Mindfulness brings me to the firm realisation that emotions arise and subside, have no substantive concrete reality, and above all are not MINE but just passing through.

But when I still my body, emotions and thoughts I find inklings of loving kindness – as a natural state – underlying everything else. When experienced, this feels very much like a positive emotion. Or perhaps it simply generates a positive emotional reaction?

When I share metta with another person, though compassion or sympathetic joy, I feel I am loving that person and it feels good. Is even metta ‘just passing through’?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: April 16, 2010, 9:01 am

I just don’t know, because I can’t define what an emotion is! These are very interesting questions. I know that at least one researcher into emotions has argued that love isn’t an emotion, but something deeper and wider. It may have been Paul Ekman. Unfortunately I can’t remember.

I’ve often said that I think of metta as more of an attitude (a settled way of thinking and feeling) than an emotion. We can be sad and still have metta, or we can be angry and still have metta, so to me this suggests that metta is more of an “attitudinal cognitive background” across or above which other emotions pass.

Perhaps, in a way, metta is a kind of an ongoing insight into the fact that other beings desire happiness. If that’s the case, then metta is more of type of perception, or a particular knowledge, which is then accompanied by emotions. Knowing deeply that other beings don’t want to suffer and want to be happy becomes the “attitudinal cognitive background” upon which other experiences play out.

Metta is often accompanied by warmth and happiness, but as I’ve suggested above that’s not inevitably the case. We don’t have to be happy to be mettaful. We can still have metta for others (and ourselves) while we’re feeling down, for example. And it’s not to be confused with happiness. People can be happy but narcissistic.

Metta does insulate us against hatred, so it’s not possible to experience hatred and metta simultaneously. We can’t have the insight that another being wants to be happy and wish him ill at the same time.

But metta does come and go.You say that emotions arise and subside, and are just passing through. That’s true. They arise in dependence upon conditions, and when those conditions cease, the emotions cease. But isn’t that true for metta as well? You say that when you still your mind and body, metta arises. So stilling your mind and body are the conditions that allow metta to come into being. When your mind and body cease to be stilled, the metta ceases. So metta is just passing through as well. (This isn’t to backtrack and to argue that metta is in fact as emotion — all our experiences are just passing through).

Presumably when we have enough mindfulness and insight to keep the mind still at all times, then metta is there all the time.

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Comment from Brendan
Time: April 16, 2010, 11:55 am

Thanks for taking the time. That was a useful response and helpful to me.

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Pingback from ointment for the mind « Valerie Mason-John
Time: April 23, 2010, 1:04 am

[...] monsters, ghouls and evil spirits out there.” The Buddha smiled, calmed them and taught them the metta bhavana, the practice of friendliness, the release of the heart, which shines forth, blazes and penetrates [...]

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Comment from Boris
Time: April 23, 2010, 5:55 am

I wanted to share an experience with you that I had last night.

It’s spring and that means that my allergies are playing up again like they do every year. Around this time of year my body feels heavier and I find it harder to concentrate. Mentally I am more down because everything costs so much energy. Also I feel more scared somehow. Sometimes during the night I wake up scared and sweating not knowing what is causing my fear. I imagine it’s a ghost, but I am not sure if they excist at all. Normally I always tried to ignore it and let it pass, but yesterday I diceded I wanted to face it. I started (in bed) wishing my fear goodluck. From that moment on my heart started beating like crazy. It went on for a long time. After about 15 minutes the fear subsided and I felt more peaceful. There was still a little bit left but no so much anymore. Do you think I have done the right thing?

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Comment from kavitha
Time: May 21, 2010, 6:21 am

hi bodhipaksa

I would like to know mantra for relationship to be united again esp for saparated lovers .please advise me

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: May 21, 2010, 9:53 am

Hi Kavitha,

As far as I’m aware there are no “magical” means for reuniting separated lovers. The people have to want to be together, and have the means to be together, and take action to be together. Those are the things you should pay attention to.

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Pingback from 28 Day Challenge: Day 9 | The Buddhist Mama
Time: July 14, 2010, 7:59 am

[...] nice long meditation. First I listened to the Great Bell Chant and Morning Meditation. Then I did a Loving Kindness meditation. You are supposed to do this first for yourself then for 4 other people. I did mine for Sean [...]

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Comment from Aaron
Time: August 24, 2010, 7:54 pm

Kavitha, all things change. Nothing last but a second in time. These kinds of attachments keep one from traveling the path.

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Pingback from Art of Dharma – Buddhism, Compassion, Yoga, and Dharma Teachings – A Step-by-Step Guide to Loving Kindness Meditation
Time: August 30, 2010, 3:20 pm

[...] from Wildmind Guide to [...]

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Comment from Caroline
Time: October 21, 2010, 5:20 pm

I am inspired by your site – I’ve been here five minutes and have already discovered a few things about myself just by reading the posts here. I am lucky to have stumbled across you and thanks for such warm and sincere contributions.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: October 21, 2010, 6:41 pm

That’s lovely to hear. I’m pleased our site is helping people.

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Comment from Shaun
Time: November 1, 2010, 3:10 pm

I’ve started meditating again after a long while, and have found (as i did the last time) an emotional flatness where i feel calm to the point of detachment – is this normal ? Would lovingkindness meditation help with this slightly disconcerting coldness ?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: November 1, 2010, 3:22 pm

Hi Shaun,

It can be hard to know what someone means by “detachment.” It can point to a healthy ability to stand back from one’s experience in a calm way, or it can point to a less healthy inability to engage fully with life and with other people. Assuming you mean something like the latter, then lovingkindness meditation would certainly help, as would bringing elements of lovingkindness meditation into your mindfulness practice by remembering to appreciate your experience rather than just observing it.

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Comment from Marina
Time: January 5, 2011, 7:18 am

Dear Sue
I just wanted to comment on what you said about learning that thinking and trying too hard make things worse. This is very true. I have had a lot of trouble with this myself recently and was helped a lot by listening to Eckhart Tolle’s audio cd ‘Living a life of inner peace’ in which he says that 98% of our thoughts are repetitions of others and get us nowhere. He says very clearly that we need to dwell in the present moment, and out of that, ‘right action comes’. Thinking gets us nowhere but just takes us round and round in circles !

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Comment from Keith
Time: March 28, 2011, 7:49 am

Hi Bodhipaksa

Thank you so much for your wonderful website which has “enlightened ” me a great deal. But nevertheless I do struggle with with finding metta towards people that I experience difficulty with. In this section of the Metta Bhavana I often work with my current negative feelings towards local youths who are currently terrorising the local community. For a few fleeting seconds I may make an assumption that in some way they are suffering (hence the anti-social behaviour-perhaps based on envy). Then it comes into mind that Buddhism teaches us that we all have free-will and that therefore these kids make a choice to behave as they do and could therefore choose not to behave as they do. So why bother finding empathy or sympathy for those with free will?
I would be most grateful if you could clarify for me. I sense that there is a way to find legitimacy in the fourth stage but I just need some guidance to find it.

Thank you.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: March 28, 2011, 1:10 pm

Hi, Keith.

As far as I’m aware, there is no term for “free will” in Buddhism. Certainly Buddhist teachings recognize that we are able to make choices, but our ability to make choices is not “free,” but is subject to conditions. I can’t just decide, for example, that since I have free will I will choose to be perfectly happy for the rest of my life, or that I will never be angry again, or even that I will stop being in a bad mood once such a mood has arisen.

My ability to make choices is constrained in many ways, because of the conditioned nature of the mind. I don’t dispute that in theory the young people who are disrupting your community have the ability to change, but in practice it can be far more difficult. What values have they been taught by their parents and wider society? Have they been taught the value of empathy from an early age? Have they been expected, from an early age, to be polite and considerate? And if these things haven’t happened, how easy is it for them even to consider changing? Add in the fears around peer pressure (if you don’t do what your friends are doing you may be ostracized) and it may be very hard indeed for them to change.

I’m not saying this to excuse them. But it’s worth considering that if we had had their genes (those make a difference), their conditioning, their early experiences, and their social pressures, we might well have ended up acting in the same ways.

In terms of their suffering, I don’t think it’s hard to imagine how unrestrained behavior leads to pain. Some of these people may be fortunate and mature out of their atrocious behavior before they attract the attention of the law, but some of them may well end up in prison. People in prisons (despite what you may read in certain tabloids) are not generally very happy. I’ve taught in prisons for years, and they’re full of conflicted, confused, and frightened people.

Ultimately, when you’re wishing a person like this well, you’re wishing that they become more fully human, that they learn to take responsibility for themselves and learn to empathize with others. That’s what it takes to be well, to be happy, and to be free from suffering. Punitive rage, wich is what often arises when faced with this situation, doesn’t generally help anyone.

Anyway, I’ll leave if there since I find myself on the verge of a commentary on penal policy. I hope this helps in some way. I sympathize with the anxiety and anger your community is experiencing.

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Comment from Keith
Time: March 29, 2011, 6:49 am

Hi Bodhipaksa,
Thank you for kindly clarifying what should be a good attitude to adopt in the fourth stage of the Metta Bhavana. Everything you say makes sense and I will now hopefully approach the practice more effectively.

Best wishes, Keith

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Comment from Elaine Wright
Time: June 27, 2011, 2:54 am

Hello

for as long as I can remember I have had problems with writing getting things out of my head on to paper. At school I was in the loest grade classes unable to partisipate. It was as if I was not there, I was unable to engage. My parents had their own problems and gave up on me unable to talk to any one for years I lived in my head. I still have this problem of not being able to formulate my words and get them on to paper. I realise that when it comes to wrtting every thing in my mind seems to shut down and I feel fearful. I have looked at this and I am probably fearful of not being able to get it right. I meditate and use minfulness in my day to day life and this has helped me a lot but I am still unable to put my thoughts on paper in a meaninful way they come out randomly and I have to spend hours trying to organise them to make sence. I have looked at affect regulation and realise I probably have problems with regulating my fight flight mode. any sugestions.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: June 30, 2011, 1:59 pm

Hi, Elaine.

There are books that teach you how to write without engaging your “inner critic.” On is “Wild Mind” by Natalie Goldberg. She explains how there are two components to writing — creation and editing — and how if you allow your inner editor to comment on what you’re writing the creative part of you never gets going. She employs the practice of timed writing where you cannot go back and edit and you have to keep writing whatever is in your head. This technique disengages the inner critic and gives your creative side an opportunity to express itself.

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Pingback from CAT Food » Blog Archive » A Necessary Failure?
Time: August 24, 2011, 11:38 am

[...] needs and capacities, I decided to conduct a loving-kindness meditation. Also known as Metta Bhavana, this is an ancient practice from the Buddhist tradition. I modified the typical practice to focus [...]

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Comment from Stanley
Time: October 24, 2011, 10:25 am

Hi all –

Somebody I immensely love, treasure and cherish, who also cherished me in countless ways and was my best friend, confidante and soulmate now detests me. The only point of difference between us is that my love for them was romantic in nature in addition to everything else, and their’s was not they said – but for a long time we knew this both of us. But following a huge breakdown on their part one day they absolutely detest me. They have cordoned me out of their lives. They treasured and cherished me very much and did a huge amount for me.

i am stumbling, fragile, helpless and lost. The loss of such a great presence in my life can be handled – but the sheer awareness that I am so toxic to them is debilitating me. I feel such guilt that my presence in their lives caused them such pressure.

Is there anything I can do to transform the situation, even if just for myself?

Thanks.

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Comment from Paul
Time: January 9, 2012, 4:52 am

Hi,

I have been doing mindfulness of breathing every day for about two weeks now. I have felt great benefit from it.

I have only practiced lovingkindness meditation once or twice, largely, I think, because of time constraints.

Would you recommend alternating sessions of mindfulness and lovingkindness each day, or instead to add lovingkindness onto mindfulness of breathing meditations?

I just worry if i add lovinkindness to my usual breathing meditation I will not be sufficiently focussed on either.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: January 9, 2012, 9:36 am

Hi, Paul.

I would recommend doing mindfulness of breathing and metta bhavana on alternate days. They complement each other, and without doing both there’s something missing in our practice. Certainly, you won’t be focusing on each practice in the same way you would if you were only doing one of them, but if while walking you decided to use one leg, you wouldn’t move as effectively as if you decided to alternate your focus and use both :)

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Marie Wetmore
Time: January 25, 2012, 10:03 am

love the post- and the website, I’m going to bookmark it! Thankfully a Google search led me to find you, and am so glad I did. I am by no means a Buddhist master but I do practice regularly. Lovingkindness has been one of the most helpful forms of meditation for me, so I hope your readers take advantage of the wonderful wisdom you are sharing. I wrote a little about lovingkindness from my perspective, including how it benefited me and some specific instruction on how to practice it. In case you’re interested here it is :http://mariewetmore.com/2012/01/25/loving-kindness-meditation-be-happier-kinder-and-more-compassionate/
I look forward to reading more of your posts !

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Pingback from Religion for Atheists
Time: January 31, 2012, 11:36 am

[...] the ‘skilful intentions’ that can be strengthened by meditation practices such as the metta bhavana, we can really start to look at what life – and existence itself – is really about. And [...]

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Comment from Asanka
Time: March 19, 2012, 11:59 pm

“Sabbe satta bavanthu sukithaththa” is the meththa bavana in a nutshell.
Mean, May all beibgs attain happiness and be free from suffering.

Why do we mark a limit for compassion? Myself, relations, human, animals all can feel the pain. so, we can wish the freedom from both mental and physical forms. That purifies the mind of myself, removing all thoughts on hatred, anger and revange etc.. Start from loving yourself and extend to all living beings with out hanging on blind assumptions(like- Animals are created for our consumption)
May you attain Nibbana soon!!!

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Comment from QuietLisa
Time: March 24, 2012, 7:46 pm

I seem to have a target on my head – a target for bullies, intimidators, rude, mean, nasty people that undermine my very being and imbue me with self-doubt and self-loathing. I am loosing all my self confidence and am too afraid to speak in group situations.
I try to be empathetic and caring towards others but there is always someone who seems to b-line to hurt me.
What meditations can I use to overcome my gear of others, remove self-doubt and reclaim my SELF?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: March 25, 2012, 11:01 pm

I’d suggest that you do a lot of self-metta, Lisa, in order to strengthen your self-confidence and your belief that you are a worthy person. It’s great to be empathetic and caring towards others, but this has to be based on inner strength, and not an attempt to win favor or to avoid conflict, which can sometimes happen. There are always going to be bullies, and they tend to look for people who they think are weak in some way. Self-metta may help you to stand up more for yourself, because you’ll learn to recognize that your wellbeing and happiness are as important as those of the people around you.

You may need to become more of a spiritual warrior, and if you’re at all open to mantra practice, Padmasambhava, Vajrapani, and Manjushri all have warrior characteristics.

You might also want to work with a therapist to help you identify blind spots in relation to the way you relate to others. It’s hard to get honesty from people…

Good luck!

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Pingback from April News – Northstar Martial Arts
Time: March 28, 2012, 9:06 pm

[...] differences that drive us apart. The Buddhists have a beautiful meditation called Loving Kindness. http://www.wildmind.org/metta it would be an interesting exercise to see how well we got on with each other if this was part of [...]

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Comment from Spencer
Time: April 9, 2012, 2:45 am

Hi Bodhipaksa,
Thank you for having such a great resource. I personally do Loving-Kindness meditation while I walk on the street and do for all sentient beings. I feel as if a great positive energy is leaving my heart area out to people. At the same time I feel good too. In my tradition, I was taught to do Metta Bhavana (Loving-Kindness) after the Anapana Sati or Vipassana or Walking Meditation. I know that it is advised to start with yourself, etc. I started my loving-kindness with Lama Surya Das’ version to all sentient beings and not myself first. It seemed to work for me. So, I skipped the step, but I feel fine just doing to all other sentient beings, or my clients in particular. What are your thoughts on skipping the steps?

In my private massage and energy healing practice, I finish the session with Loving-Kindness meditation and the clients seemed to feel much better. I feel rejuvenated as well.

With loving-kindness,
Spencer, the Urban Monk
My blog article:
http://buddhist-meditation-techniques.com/loving-kindness-meditation/

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: April 9, 2012, 9:42 am

Hi, Spencer.

I’d suggest trying out the practice in the traditional way for a few weeks, and seeing how it goes. I’ve never tried doing it without cultivating self-metta first, and so I’ve no first-hand experience of doing it your way, and therefore no first-hand experience of any drawbacks.

If you find there’s resistance to doing in this way, then I’d suggest that that in itself is evidence that there’s something to work with in relation to your self-view and self-metta. Or maybe there will be no resistance and it’ll be a great experience. Either way you win!

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Comment from Ryan
Time: April 17, 2012, 3:43 pm

Hi Bodhipaksa,

First off, I am finding your site very helpful. Thank you very much for putting it up and communicating with each of us. I have been switching between the Mindfulness and Loving Kindness mediations for about 2 months now, and am finding it very difficult to sit still. I notice that after a couple of minutes, I feel comfort in putting my hand on my face for some reason. Do you know why this is, and is there any type of advice you can give in which I can get over this?

Thanks again

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: April 17, 2012, 4:09 pm

Without talking to you more extensively I couldn’t know why you find it hard to sit still. You say you get comfort from putting your hands on your face. Perhaps you’re not giving yourself enough emotional reassurance during meditation and so you’re having to give it physically? I’m just guessing.

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Pingback from Depression and Meditation « dkagyu
Time: June 25, 2012, 4:52 pm

[...] fact the Metta Bhavana (development of lovingkindness) practice is highly recommended for those who experience [...]

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Comment from Kristin
Time: July 11, 2012, 8:23 am

I am finding this website so helpful, so thank you! I’m a newcomer to Buddhism so I’m not familiar with all the lingo and terms yet. I am still finding it difficult to cultivate loving kindness towards those who are so hate-filled and degrading to others. I am trying to look deeper, past their hateful words and attitudes, and connect with them, but it honestly angers me to see others treated so viciously.
Thank you for all the helpful information on your site and please keep it up! People like me need easy to understand instruction.

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Pingback from Why Kindness Matters | Mindfulness in Action: Courses, Coaching and Training
Time: July 17, 2012, 7:35 am

[...] if you are interested in learning more about this practice, I recommend the excellent guide on the Wildmind site. It also has links to guided meditation CDs and other resources. Recommend on Facebook [...]

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Pingback from 40 Days of Meditation: #Zensperiment | Greatist
Time: September 12, 2012, 5:06 pm

[...] or so, I’ll try a different style of meditation, including Zen, mindfulness, Transcendental, and loving kindness. To be honest, I’m not really sure what “meditating” means. The best answer I’ve gotten so [...]

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Pingback from Why Kindness Matters | Mindfulness in Action
Time: February 12, 2013, 9:28 am

[...] if you are interested in learning more about this practice, I recommend the excellent guide on the Wildmind site. It also has links to guided meditation CDs and other [...]

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Comment from Norman MacArthur
Time: February 14, 2013, 4:16 pm

This mediation is really powerful and effective although different to the mindfulness of breathing. I’m still practicing the loving kindness, but not so much with mindfulness of breathing for one reason (that I’m still trying to figure out) is that i’m getting very anxious for long periods of time following the practice, almost anxious of being calm and feeling slow (as crazy as it sounds). Should I still be practising mindful breathing and try to gain more awareness of this? Or focus more on the loving kindness? (Basically do I need to do one to successfully do the other)?
Thank You

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: February 14, 2013, 4:34 pm

Hi, Norman.

I’d suggest that you just keep alternating the two practices. They do mutually inform each other, and the patience and acceptance of the lovingkindness meditations will make it easier for you to accept the calmness. It doesn’t sound at all crazy to feel anxious about being calmer. We get very used to the idea that we have to be thinking, thinking, thinking in order to keep tabs on everything, to make sure we haven’t forgotten anything, etc. It can take time to learn to trust that we don’t need to obsessively ruminate. See if you can smile at the anxiety and tell yourself that it’s OK to feel anxious.

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Norman MacArthur
Time: February 14, 2013, 6:36 pm

Thanks very much Bodhipaksa. That’s refreshing to know, I’ll keep my focus on both and work with the anxiety as best as I can.

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Pingback from Hot Pursuit | Fluff and Puffery
Time: February 22, 2013, 8:11 pm

[...] I noticed myself clinging to the crap feelings again just recently… I was doing a guided metta meditation, which is where you practice wishing people well, happy, and free from suffering. You [...]

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Comment from WanderingWonderer
Time: March 8, 2013, 2:56 pm

Thank you for your website! I am 49. I purposefully was taught to meditate when I was 19 to control pain, after an accident. Once I “fell through” 3mths after trying to meditate, I realized I had meditated as a child. My father was thrilled by the stories I would tell which led to him trying various religions which caused discord in our home, so I stopped talking to him about it by the time I was 5. At 14, as I passed through a place, I received knowledge that a specific friend was hurt; within 25ft I saw her best friend and told her that Carrie was hurt. I immediately, sat down very confused, crying. The other girl was confused as well. The next morning, Carrie was assisting with unloading a World’s Finest Chocolate truck, located in the place I had the vision, fell from the back of the truck and broke her arm. I did reach out to an ex-Catholic priest. I explained what happened, he asked me what my prayer practices were. I explained the “day dreaming”, he advised me to stop and I did.

Since I started meditating at 19, I go deeply for 2yrs, then “visioning” seems to occur again. So, I stop for awhile. At 41, I had my 3rd child. Two years ago, I read a Richard Rohr book, it made me feel like I wasn’t alone and I started meditating again. I’m at the two year mark and yes, the visioning started again this past summer. I did seek a Spiritual Director, 2mths ago, wanting to engage in the St Ignatius spiritual exercises. I didn’t think the director understood my situation. Now, reading your website; thinking “controlled day dreaming” is part of what I do when meditating. It is like a “star trek holo deck experience”. I can be whereever I want to be and expand the circumstances. Bad experiences in my 20’s have trained me to ignore others that appear while I meditate. I generally dismiss them now and meditate in my created environment, alone.

As I said the visioning during the day walking around came back last summer. So, I don’t meditate more than 20min at a time since then and it has stopped. There is a direct coorelation with meditating and the visions. I will work on the LovingKindness exercises and start again in this environment. After I read your articles, that is why the Spiritual director is claiming I am not ready, I focus too much on drawing out the illusions. I’ll try to focus on dismissing sights and objects.

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Comment from Jay
Time: March 23, 2013, 8:09 am

Hi,

I like your website and return to it often to get insights on various things in life. I’m an anxious person worrying about what others think/say about me. I started meditating (breathing, loving kindness) on a daily basis and I see that I’m becoming more mindful these days. Though the little things still bother me, I’m happy that I don’t dwell on them for long. I’m in a generally happy state of mind except for one thing. By God’s grace, things are going well in my life but that’s not the case with my sister and mother. They have problems b’cos of their relationship (with their spouses etc.,) and other issues and they are unhappy. Whenever I talk to them/listen to their problems, I feel unhappy too. Though there is nothing I can do to bail them out of their situations (except listen patiently) I still feel helpless. I try to do whatever I can to cheer them up. I would like some suggestions on how to maintain my composure and not worry/be unhappy about their situations. I want to help them, see them happy but I don’t want their unhappiness to affect me adversely.
Thanks

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: March 23, 2013, 10:19 am

There’s an old saying, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

It’s worth looking at the expectations you have. You can’t fix other peoples’ relationships. You can’t “cheer them up” to the point where they’re no longer bothered by the difficulties they experience. If you have any such expectation then you’re going to be dragged down when you hit the reality of “the things you cannot change.”

The best thing you can do is to be a compassionate presence, which doesn’t mean wallowing in suffering, but simply caring that the other person is having a hard time, and giving them as much love and kindness as you can — possibly also setting them straight when they’re behaving in ways that are making the situation, or their suffering, worse.

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Pingback from Why Kindness Matters | Mindfulness in Action
Time: December 20, 2013, 4:33 pm

[…] if you are interested in learning more about this practice, I recommend the excellent guide on the Wildmind site. It also has links to guided meditation CDs and other […]

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Pingback from D is for Difficult Person | Stephanie's blog
Time: February 23, 2014, 3:24 pm

[…] With thanks to Jim Pym ‘You don’t have to sit on the floor’ and http://www.wildmind.org/metta/ […]

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Time: May 13, 2014, 11:49 am

[…] bodhipaksa […]

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Time: May 14, 2014, 6:18 am

[…] (bodhipaksa) […]

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Comment from Nottyhorse
Time: September 30, 2014, 8:45 am

Dear Bodhipaksa. I have reached an impasse. I have been listening and responding to your CD for10 days now and have found it really helpful to begin with. I cannot “go it alone” and will need spoken guidance for some time to come. However, the sameness of listening to it every day is encouraging my mind to wander. I do think negatively a lot even though I am so conscious of this but have great difficulty controlling my feelings of anger at the way in which I have been treated by a couple of people. I need to move on so badly, particularly as I see these people regularly through my hobby and just don’t want to acknowledge their existence which is childish and not sustainable. So I’ve written here about more than one issue – you can probably detect that my mind is in a muddle and all over the place and I really want to feel calm all the time, not just momentarily. Please can you help?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 30, 2014, 9:53 am

Hi, Nottyhorse.

A wandering mind isn’t disastrous. We all have wandering minds — it’s just that some of us have learned to be OK with the fact that our minds wander. And, curiously, being OK with the mind wandering makes it wander less — or being disturbed by the mind wandering makes it wander more.

I’m curious why you say you “can’t go it alone.” What’s preventing you? What do you think would happen if you did?

It gets easier to deal with the feelings of anger. If you keep doing metta practice there will, in the long term, be a reduction in the amount of anger you feel. You may not notice this, but other people will. You’ll start noticing you’re angry and letting go of it. Then you’ll realize that you’re feeling angry but don’t have to express it by acting aggressively. And then later on you’ll find that you have the choice not to be angry. This whole process takes years, but it’s better to spend years working on anger than to spend years just being angry :)

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