How to Practice Metta Meditations for Mindfulness
Here’s a guided metta meditation for your mindfulness practice. Work through it slowly, taking it step by step. If you don’t have the time or the patience to do all the stages, do as many as you feel comfortable with. Be gentle with yourself, right from the beginning.
You can practice loving-kindness in a seated or lying down position.
You can even practice it while walking. What’s most important isn’t the position you adopt, but the intention of kindness and friendliness you bring to the process. Make yourself warm and at ease. Gently close your eyes, or keep them half open, looking comfortably downwards.
Begin by feeling your breath.
Notice the breath sensation wherever it feels most predominant for you. This awareness helps create a connection between your body and mind. Continue to feel your breath for a few minutes.
When you’re ready, see if certain phrases arise from your heart for what you most deeply desire for yourself, in a long-lasting way and which you can ultimately wish for all beings.
‘May I be well. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be free from suffering.’
Softly repeat the phrases again and again.
Allow them to sink into your heart. Allow the words to generate a feeling of kindness towards yourself. If that doesn’t happen, don’t worry about it – your intention is more important than the feeling. Just continue to repeat the phrases lightly. Let the phrases resonate.
Now bring to mind someone you care about; a good friend or person who inspires you.
Picture the person in your mind’s eye and inwardly say the same phrases to him or her. Don’t worry if you can’t create the image clearly. The intention works by itself. Use phrases like:
‘May you be well. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be free from suffering. Send loving-kindness to the person using these words.’
When you’re ready, choose a neutral person; someone you see daily but don’t have any particular positive or negative feelings towards.
Perhaps someone you walk past every morning or buy coffee from. Again send a sense of loving-kindness using your phrases:
‘May you be well. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be free from suffering.’
Now choose a person you don’t get on with too well.
Perhaps someone you’ve been having difficulties with recently. Say the same phrases again, from the mind and heart. This may be more challenging.
Now bring all four people to mind: yourself, your friend, your neutral person and your difficult person.
Visualize them or feel their presence. Try to send an equal amount of loving-kindness to them all by saying:
‘May we be well. May we be happy. May we be healthy. May we be free from suffering.’
Finally, expand your sense of loving-kindness outwards, towards all living beings.
Plants, animals of the land, air and sea. The whole universe. Send this sense of friendliness, care, loving kindness and compassion in all directions from your heart.
‘‘May all be well. May all be happy. May all be healthy. May all be free from suffering.’
If the metta phrases suggested don’t work for you, then here are other suggestions. Choose two or three and use them as your metta phrases. Or you can be creative and come up with your own too:
‘May I be at peace with myself and all other beings.’
‘May I accept myself just as I am.’
‘May I find forgiveness for the inevitable hurt we bring to one another.’
‘May I live in peace and harmony with all beings.’
‘May I love myself completely just as I am now no matter what happens.’
‘May I be free from the suffering of fear and anger.’
‘May I love myself unconditionally.’
Metta meditation can be a profoundly healing practice. Be patient with yourself and practice it slowly and lovingly. Let the phrases come from your heart and see what happens.
Once you become experienced at this meditation, you can even practice it whilst walking. However, remember to keep your eyes open or you may mindfully bump into something!