Loving kindness meditation

Starting to meditate, I was taught two practices and I am very grateful for both of them. The first was a meditation on the breath. Not something that we can easily control, all we do is watch it coming in and going out. Sounds simple but once we try we realise that it ain’t.

The second practice was a loving kindness practice. Known in Pali as ‘metta’, we offer these thoughts firstly to ourselves (most difficult, I found), to a good friend, then a stranger and finally what is known as ‘the difficult person’.

May you be safe, and free from danger
May you be healthy, and free from pain
May you be happy, and free from distress
May you live in this world with ease and goodwill 

WIth my eyes closed I would imagine the good friend, the stranger and the difficult person sat in front of me as I went through the meditation phrases in my mind.

It started off by feeling a little wooden, but after a wee while the feelings began to feel very heartful. HIghly recommended.

For those wishing to practice this in te reo Maori, here are the four lines above:

Kia ora koe, mahorahora i te whakawhara
Kia kauora koe, mahorahora i te mamae
Kia hari koe, mahorahora i te pouri
Kia ngawhari, kia ngakaunui tou oranga ki roto i tenei ao.

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  1. Posted October 13, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Unconditional friendliness or boundless friendliness are other ways of describing ‘metta’ and may well be more useful to understanding the concept in English.

  2. Jim Champion
    Posted April 9, 2016 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    I’ve not done a lot of metta practice, however I’ve already noticed one helpful thing about it. When starting with the difficult part (wishing metta to oneself) I find that I stop and think “Wait a minute, I *am* safe right now. I *am* healthy right now”… I’m able to appreciate these things, which would otherwise go unnoticed. This is referred to as ‘counting your blessings’ in the Christian tradition that I grew up with.

  3. Jim Champion
    Posted April 9, 2016 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Recently read this quote in an article about Sharon Salzberg:

    I had learned the word ‘loving-kindness’ as the standard translation of metta, but when I’m teaching now I usually say ‘connection’—a profound sense of connection. It’s knowing somebody counts, that everybody wants to be happy, and that our lives have something to do with one another.

    I find the term ‘connection’ helpful.

    • Posted August 31, 2018 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      Connection: that’s a lovely thought Jim. Listening recently to a conversation between Robert Wright and Michael Pollan, the latter at one point said ‘the core of spiritual experience is connection’ which really resonated with me. He also said just a bit before that, ‘the opposite to spiritual is egotistical’ which I found interesting.

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