Introduction to lovingkindness meditation

Home Lovingkindness meditation Introduction to lovingkindness meditation
Radical Self-Acceptance, by Tara Brach

The Metta Bhavana is a meditation for developing lovingkindness.

“Bhavana” means “cultivation” or “development,” and “Metta” is a word that means “love,” “friendliness,” or “lovingkindness.” So this is a meditation practice where we actively cultivate some very positive emotional states towards others, as well as to ourselves.

This meditation practice helps us to bring more harmony into our relationships with others, so that we experience less conflicts, resolve existing difficulties, and deepen our connections with people we already get on with.

This meditation helps us to overcome anger, resentment, and hurt.

It helps us to empathize more, and to be more considerate, kind, and forgiving. We can also learn to appreciate others more, concentrating more on their positive qualities and less on their faults. We learn to be more patient.

In this meditation practice, we also cultivate Metta towards ourselves, so that we experience less internal conflict, and learn to appreciate ourselves more. This is a particularly important aspect of the practice. It’s traditionally held that we all cherish ourselves, and that what we need to do is to expand our love from ourselves to others. For example in the Buddhist text, The Udana, we read:

Searching all directions
with one’s awareness,
one finds no one dearer
than oneself.
In the same way, others
are fiercely dear to themselves.
So one should not hurt others
if one loves oneself.

And yet many of us in the west have been brought up to hate ourselves. We don’t thoroughly hate ourselves, of course. In fact we tend to treat ourselves very well! But we do tend to keep up an undercurrent of negative self-talk. And to the extent to which we hate ourselves, we’re unable to relate healthily to others.

Lovingkindness practice helps us to feel more positive, accepting, kind, and patient toward ourselves, in order that we can be more compassionate and loving toward others.

37 Comments. Leave new

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sufisister (sufisister)
December 31, 1969 11:59 pm

another reminder to self, work on metta practice: http://www.wildmind.org/metta/introduction

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Mystic Mindpower » Blog Archive » The Gift Of Metta - Loving Kindness
July 13, 2008 9:16 am

[…] More info about Metta and it’s practice can be found HERE […]

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Hi

I am looking for a local venue to practise Metta meditation. I have done some meditation before and a couple of weeks in a Buddhist monastery.

I am based in Farnham, any ideas would be very much appreciated.

Kind Regards

David

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Hi David,

The closest I could stop was in Woking. It’s a Theravadin group and they almost certainly do the metta bhavana meditation. The Modern Buddha Way (also listed on that page may do so as well — it’s not clear from what I saw of their website.

Good luck with your search.

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Hi,

I am interested in a local meditation class/group practising mindfulnessbreathing meditation. I live in Woldingham, Surrey,

Regards,
Sam

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Hi Sam,

I don’t want to sound cheeky or unhelpful, but I live in New Hampshire and Google’s as close to you as it is to me. I’d suggest searching for [Surrey meditation] or [meditation] plus the name of some nearby large towns.

Happy hunting!

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Hi
I teach mindfulness meditation and I’m based near Richmond, Surrey. Email me on Shamash@learnmindfulness.co.uk if that’s close enough

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Wonderful site! I teach classes in raising your happiness set point, and we commence each class with a meditation. I will definitely visit often for ongoing insight. Thank you for such a plentiful resource.
LA:)

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Santosha (Contentment) - Step #7 - Steps on the Path - Holistic Health and medicine blog - Times Union - Albany NY
March 1, 2009 5:02 am

[…] the end of a yoga class, we sometimes call on the words of the Metta (lovingkindness) prayer.  Please take these words into your own heart: “May I be happy.  May […]

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Lovingkindness meditation
January 17, 2010 11:23 pm

[…] Read our introduction to lovingkindness […]

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the line between faith and fear « Au Revoir, Goodbye, So Long: life after divorce
January 27, 2010 3:51 pm

[…] What helped to jolt me out of that way of thinking was the practice of Metta Bhavana meditation, or “Loving Kindness.” I started it in my late 20s, sitting in the upstairs of a craftsman bungalow in Seattle, with a […]

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Hi Bodhipaksa,

i like to thank you for all the effort you have put into this site. It contains so much valuable information for beginners like me.

Even though – and i hope you bear with me – I have to admit that some articles (e.g. about wrong posture) where a little discouraging to me. Before i found your site, I already practiced about 4 weeks, following only some basic instructions on samatha meditation. I wasn’t paying much attention to posture and still felt pretty fine. Now things look much more complicated and i’m irritated a little. But i still hope to sort these things out.

But i wanted to ask another question – and i don’t know if i just missed that information: How should the different kinds of meditation be mixed? I mean, is there a guide like: do 2 days of concentrating on the breath, then 1 day lovingkindness? I guess i already know the answer: Do whatever feels best to you. But still i’m asking, just in case.

Best,
Mike

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Hi Mike,

Irritability is just one of the many things we have to work with. It’s good to meet irritability with patience, as best we can.

Generally I suggest to people that they alternate practices, unless there’s a felt need to do otherwise. By that I don’t mean that you just “feel like” not doing metta bhavana or mindfulness, but that you genuinely need more metta (because you’re in a bad mood or being very critical, say) or because you need more mindfulness (say because your mind is racing). Too often people find one practice a bit more difficult than the other, and so they end up avoiding it. I don’t think that’s a good idea.

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Thank you Bodhipaksa, i understand your answer and it makes perfect sense to me. Actually lovingkindness would probably be very helpful in my situation. I think so because i often tend to be a “emotional cold” person (if this is the correct expression in english), being to critical with myself – and as a consequence of that, with others, too. So i started to do some first lovingkindness practice in addition to samatha. But like you mentioned i have some problems.

Unlike with concentration on the breath i have a hard time to find a meditation object. Since i often seem to have problems really feeling positive emotions in general, it’s even harder in lovingkindness. Somehow i don’t know what to look for, when you say “keep your focus on emotions”. All i can achieve so far are like shivers down my spine when i say to myself “may i be well”/”may i be happy”.

If you don’t mind i’d very much apreciate any tipp you have for persons like me. To me it’s like the chicken/egg problem: Lovingkindness could probably help me very much, to better feel my emotions. But to do lovingkindnes i first have to feel my emotions…

Thanks again,
Mike

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Hi Mike,

I’ve been there, so I know what you’re talking about. There are a couple of ways out of the trap you mention. For one thing, emotionally cold/cool people often aren’t very good at noticing their emotions, and the lovingkindness practice is a way to discover what’s actually going on. Emotions can be subtle things, and we can very often not appreciate them.

The other thing is that you don’t have to be aware of an actual emotion in order to get started. Being aware of feeling neutral (i.e. not knowing what emotions are present) is enough to be getting on with. If we simply accept the presence of the neutrality, and are patient with ourselves (and acceptance and patience are two positive emotions that can be taken for granted and not fully acknowledged) then we can continue with the metta phrases (“May I be well,” etc) and let them have an effect. They always have an effect, even if we don’t notice it.

So we can just continue patiently doing this thing and not noticing any effect, but perhaps feeling just a bit more relaxed and friendly in our daily lives, (“for no apparent reason”). Sometimes we don’t even notice any changes in our own feelings, but others say we’re easier to get on with! And then at some stage we start to appreciate more directly that positive emotions are actually happening.

So I’d suggest just doing starting the practice, being happy to accept that at times you feel rather neural, and just let the practice do its thing. You’ll notice the effects when you’re ready to do so.

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Hi,

like you said, i just continued and somehow i already feel an effect. Not sure if it’s because i feel doing something ridiculous. But even if that’s the case, so what? It makes me more happy, i even started to laugh sometimes (actually i love being funny – it only often feels so hard to escape the trap of negative emotions)!

So i tried to be aware of my scepticism and see it as what it is: not helpful. It would only talk down the happiness which is really happening. I only have to allow and accept it. I hope this is not only a flash in the pan – but again i’m aware of this thought also! So i think i start to understand how awareness can be a very powerful weapon against being trapped in negative thoughts.

I’ll definitely stay tuned because this seems like being the beginning of an exciting journey.

Thanks so much,
Mike

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I’m glad to hear it’s working out for you…

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Resolution to resolve | Lavender Blume
December 31, 2010 3:35 am

[…] great way to figure out what you need to resolve is Metta Bhavana, also referred to as the lovingkindness meditation. You don’t need candles or incense, nor do […]

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I love everyone here!
January 9, 2011 4:04 pm

[…] Originally Posted by Jack Do you really say that you love everyone on the planet,from heart? Try it even for just a moment and make it your truth. Even just for a moment. It's actually a very, very natural feeling to feel love and compassion for all fellow humans. Practice metta meditation daily to really make it your truth. It will transform you 'As a mother even with own life protects her only child, so should one cultivate immeasurable loving-kindness towards all living beings.' -The Metta Sutta Introduction to lovingkindness meditation | Wildmind Buddhist Meditation […]

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mere words – may i/others be well & happy, dont seem to work.
try practically generating warmth in the heart area. feel the warmth as it grows while u focus on that area – then spread that warmth on u and on others… heart shud feel it.
focus on feeling metta , not words

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Hi, Mocowi.

Words do work well for some people (and for those people there’s nothing “mere” about them) but they may not work for everyone, which is why on this site I also teach visual and kinesthetic methods of evoking a sense of lovingkindness. For some people one of these approaches will work well, while for other people a combination is more useful.

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Day 39 – The reason my garden is turning brown… « A Year Of Living Wisely
April 3, 2011 10:04 am

[…] often falls down around me. I’ve missed out one of the cornerstones. I haven’t done Metta Bhavana […]

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Scribbles – 15th of May » A Treasure in the Shape of a Girl
May 14, 2011 10:14 pm

[…] love the idea and process behind the Buddhist Metta Bhavana (lovingkindness) meditation. This video is a beautiful example of a guided Metta […]

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Say a little prayer » A Treasure in the Shape of a Girl
May 15, 2011 3:37 am

[…] and the intention of the process is to develop a sense of love for the greater world. Wildmind has a fantastic guide on Metta if you’re […]

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Bodhipaksa thanks for your great contributions.
Your answers are very helpful.

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New Experiment… « dailyhappyfix.com
March 15, 2012 3:08 am

[…] have noticed that the Metta meditation has been helping me feel less angry lately so I decided to combine it with some daily yoga and see […]

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EagerLearner
March 29, 2012 3:08 pm

Hi,

I am interested in integrating both the Loving Kindness mediation with the mindfulness. I am a beginner, and I was wondering any advice you may give me as far as how long I should spend on each stage of the Loving Kindness and how long each meditation should last for (give or take). Thanks

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Most people do five to ten minute stages for the metta bhavana practice, so that’s 25 to 50 minutes in total. And I generally recommend to people that they do mindfulness of breathing and metta bhavana on alternate days.

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Dear wildmind,
i would like to say thank you for this website.Very uplifting.
I just came from a Monastery in Chithurst,where i learnt how
to subside the fear with the help of Metta Mantra.
Shame that not many people in West believe.
Thanks Buddha
David

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Indranil Mitra
February 25, 2014 2:41 am

Very interesting and helpful site; has the potential to be of immense benefit to those who sincerely desire to learn from it. One small correction: “Bhavana” is a Hindi word (derived from the original Sanskrit) which means a feeling or an emotion.

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Bhāvanā may well be a Hindi word meaning feeling or emotion, but in this context it’s a Pāli word meaning “cultivation.”

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ideas on ideas organization - Kimberly Wilson
June 30, 2014 1:46 am

[…] began with a metta meditation (divine) and facial at kripalu. then traveled home via train (my favorite travel mode) for the rest […]

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Developing Self-Discipline: How to Meditate Effortlessl
July 7, 2014 3:14 pm

[…] is a good thing for us. By varying things occasionally we can avoid getting bored. Consider trying Metta Bhavana (loving-kindness meditation)or a body scan to spice things […]

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How I Got Off Klonopin and Depakote | Sharon Wachsler
July 19, 2014 3:34 pm

[…] and most beneficial practice when I got into meditation. Here’s a beginner metta video. Or, here’s a good written beginner’s guide to metta. Some people prefer Vipassana (insight) meditation. Here’s a beginner’s guide to […]

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Merennage Nandanadasa. Salgado
August 5, 2014 1:13 am

Dear Sir,

I am very much happy to join with this noble path as my economic environment is very pathetic, I am dreaming when I am escaped this evil shadow and join with this path.as this is order of the world not for me.This is our karma or it is created by invisible hand.please let me know.Thank you.

yours sincerely,

[M.N.SALGADO]

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Thank your sir for the amazing works you’ve had done ^^ I’ve been struggling with inner conflict all the time between these two emotions the evil and good, I keep feeding and sowing the both of this emotions resulting to an inner disharmony and turmoil in myself but with your amazing site it helps me massively to resolve this matter. Thank you so much ^^ you are helping hundreds and thousands of people.

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Thank you, “Thank you.” :)

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