A 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 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.
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.
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.