What is metta?
The word "metta" translates to "goodwill," "non-violence" or "loving kindness." Metta is the practice of ahimsa, or non-harming, which is one of the 5 yamas or restraint practices of yoga philosophy.
Metta meditation is a way of directing this loving kindness energy towards other people. There are many different ways to practice metta, but it is meant to cultivate a feeling of universal well-wishing toward ALL beings. It is a very powerful way to overcome feelings of anger, fear, greed, insecurities and jealousy when directed toward those who challenge us.
Practicing metta mediation is an effective way to create a deeper connection to our own sense of self-love and balance the ever-in-flux heart chakra energy center. See below for recommendations to get you started. As with any meditation, always feel free to add, edit or extract to practice in a way that feels genuine and supportive for you. When you find something that works, stick with it.
As always, find a comfortable position with the spine extended. Close down the eyes and slow your breath before beginning. Whether you choose to read the words below or listen to the audio version, allow this meditation to be creative in a way that makes sense for you.
1) Begin with yourself. In your own words, wish yourself happiness, good will, love and good health. Wish yourself freedom from anger, greed, negativity and stress. Wish yourself joy, compassion, kindness and gratefulness. Wish yourself a future of wisdom, patience and kindness.
2) Now, take a moment to allow space for those well-wishes to sink in. Notice why loving kindness needs to begin with yourself FIRST.
3) Next, begin to send similar well-wishes to your family and close friends. (You may choose to think of each person individually, or just focus on all of them at once) Send them all love and happiness, freedom from anger and stress, fulfillment, joy, wisdom and strength.
4) As you move through your love toward each person, notice any struggle or resistance that comes up for you to send those wishes. If so, recognize them and return to Step 1, practicing loving kindness again toward yourself.
May I be happy, May I be free, May I be well, May I be healthy and strong, May I live happily, peacefully and joyfully.
5) Once you feel that you can sincerely send loving kindness to your close friends and family, practice again toward acquaintances such as neighbors, coworkers, or people you just know in passing. Continue to notice what comes up and return to more loving patterns for yourself where you find resistance.
6) Keep expanding your attention and love outwards. To the area you live in, to your state or country, and eventually, to the entire world. All of the people, animals and creatures within it. Repeat the loving kindness thoughts to yourself at the first sign of any judgement or negativity.
Metta meditation increases positivity, compassion, connection and self-love. I hope you'll give it a shot and notice how it can begin to edit your thoughts and attitudes.