Stage 2 – Cultivating metta towards a good friend

hands and flowersA friend is by definition someone whose wellbeing is important to us. When they feel bad it upsets us, and when they feel good it’s pleasing to us. So a friend is someone we already have metta for, and what we’re doing is strengthening that metta.

It’s worth thinking in advance who we’re going to choose as the friend, otherwise we can spend much of the time deciding which friend we’re going to be meditating on.

You can listen to an MP3 guided meditation that will lead you through the first two stages of the practice by clicking on the player below:

Stage Zero

Stage Zero is what I call the initial stage of meditation, before the stages proper, in which we set up conditions that help the meditation practice to go well.

So first, set up your posture, and deepen your awareness of your body, taking your awareness into every muscle and relaxing as best you can. If you’re not sure about meditation posture then check out our posture workshop.

We have various lovingkindness meditations available in our online store.

Stage 1

Then become aware of your emotions, and do the first stage of the practice, by taking your awareness to your heart, accepting whatever emotions you find there, and then beginning to wish yourself well. You can use any of the methods for cultivating lovingkindness that we outlined in earlier sections.

Once you have spent maybe 5 to 10 minutes wishing yourself well, move on to stage two.

Stage 2

In the second stage of the practice, think of a good friend, and wish them well. Decide in advance who you’re going to pick, otherwise you might waste time in indecision during the practice.

 


25 Comments. Leave new

Thanks for a nice article

Reply
avatar
Cultivating lovingkindness for a friend | Wildmind Buddhist Meditation
April 17, 2013 12:02 am

[…] isn’t complicated. But if we do this at the beginning of the second stage of the metta bhavana it brings our lovingkindness practice to life. Pin […]

Reply

Hello, and thanks for the wonderful website.
Lot of great resources.
The MP3 file on this page does not work.

Reply

It’s fixed now. Thanks for taking the time to point that out.

Reply
avatar
Jennifer Hall
January 1, 2014 9:18 am

I cannot open the MP3 file on this page either. I had the same problem initially with the MP3 for cultivating metta towards self. Then this morning it worked.
I love the website. I can’t remember how I came across it, but it was timely.
Thanks
Jennifer

Reply

What browser (and version) are you using? And on what OS?

Reply

Same here; I use google chrome..
I can click, but nothing happens. (btw smae results on the previous stage mp3-link). What is OS?

Reply

An OS is an operating system, like Windows, or Linux, or Mac OS.

Reply

oh.. & using Windows 7

Reply
avatar
Patricia Hughes
February 9, 2014 5:38 pm

Hi Bodhipaksa
I’m having the same problem, I click on the play button and it changes to a pause button, but the time remains 0:00. Win7, Firefox and Chrome both (mis)behave in the same way. Flash 12.0.0.44

Reply

Could you try again, Patricia? The file was not working for me before, but is now. Perhaps it’s the same for you…

Reply
avatar
Deborah Lane McGuire
February 13, 2014 8:23 pm

Today I practiced stage 2, focusing on a childhood friend with whom I”m still in frequent contact. She has a generous heart and often ends up in situations where others take advantage of her openness. Instead of focusing on the loving feelings I have for her, I found myself slightly distressed during my practice, realizing she’s in another questionable situation that can cause harm in the long term. How should I have handled this feeling during meditation? I tried to let the thoughts go, but still felt much unease.

Reply

Hi, Deborah.

In that kind of situation, where suffering arises for you to the extent that it’s difficult to keep your focus on your friend, then I’d suggest that you direct your thoughts of lovingkindness toward your own pain first, and then extend them to your friend. Basically what you’ve done is stumble into the practice of developing compassion, rather than metta. But that’s fine!

Reply
avatar
Deborah Lane McGuire
February 19, 2014 2:49 pm

Thank you, Bodhipaksa. I should have read further ahead in your book, which touches on these things, too. Now I have an additional question for you. I am still working on Metta. Would it be premature to go to the Equanimity meditation at this point? Maybe it’s not wise to try yet. Thank you for your help.

Reply

I’d just keep going with what you’re doing at the moment. There’s always an element of equanimity in the metta practice, because we’re learning to accept our experience.

Reply
avatar
Patricia Hughes
February 20, 2014 5:37 am

I tried yesterday evening and it worked (although the computer went down in the middle with an entirely unexpected and unprecedented blue screen of death – almost certainly not connected). Today I have tried it with Ubuntu/Firefox and Win7/Firefox, both of which showed the slider but the length of the clip showed as 0:00 and which didn’t play. Win7/Chrome shows the slider (looks different) and has a time of 15:07. It starts to play, but the sound is very muffled and low volume. Hope this helps!

Reply

Curses. It’s ridiculously hard finding a media player that consistently works on our site.

Reply
avatar
Patricia Hughes
February 21, 2014 7:07 pm

Okay, I give in! I just listened to the Emotional Awareness exercise (nice, I will listen again) with no problems but when I navigated to this page and tried the audio again it didn’t work, still claimed 0:00 minutes. What is the difference between the two?
Metta to you, Bodhipaksa

Reply

I’m afraid I don’t know!

Reply

Hi
I have started meditating very recently. I am doing the loving kindness first stage and the mindfulness of breathing all stages and it is so helpful in odd ways such as helping me to to be calmer and to stop procrastinating.
However, I am finding it difficult to move into the second stage of the loving kindness meditation because I do not have anyone I can class as a good friend. There are people who tell me they are my good friends but I do not trust them (I think this is down to my fear of people). Should I think of one of these people when meditating in the second stage of the loving kindness meditation or should I concentrate only on the first stage for now?
I am very grateful to you for this website – it is easy to understand without being simplistic.

Reply

Hi, Manda.

I appreciate the problem. It’s very easy to have doubts about whether we’re worthy of being loved — and our doubts about our friends are mainly doubts about ourselves, I believe. I think it’s worth persevering with one of these almost-friends. The more you can cultivate kindness toward one of these people, the less you’ll be inclined to distrust them and assume that they harbor some kind of ill will for you.

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

Reply

Is it okay to use your partner in the second stage?

Reply

It’s not recommended, especially if you’re fairly new to the practice. The emotions that we have for our partners are very complex and include a lot more than the kindness and friendliness of metta, and so bringing in a partner makes the practice much more complicated.

Reply

I’ve actually been practising the Metta Bhavana for over a year now. The reason I ask is that I’ve been experiencing conflict with my partner on and off for quite some time now. I know this can be normal in any relationship, but is there perhaps a better place to cultivate Metta for them? Can we ‘create’ an additional stage?
Many thanks
Norman

Reply

If you’re having conflict with your partner then I’d have thought the fourth stage would be more appropriate than the second, which is for someone who (at that moment) you naturally have kindly feelings for. It’s generally unproblematic to have a partner as the person in the fourth stage.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *