Loving Kindness: How to Practice this Beautiful Meditation at Home
Loving-kindness, or metta meditation is a great supplement to any ongoing meditation practice. The practice involves repeating phrases to wish yourself and others loving kindness, with intention.
To practice loving-kindness meditation, sit in a comfortable but alert position, one in which you won’t fall asleep. Take a few deep breaths, exhaling fully. If thoughts come up, simply notice and allow them to drift by, bringing yourself back to your breathing. If you can, picture or feel your breath as if it were moving directly into and out of your heart center.
The first person you will address your phrases to is yourself, as all love flows more easily when we start by loving ourselves. If you have difficulty giving yourself this type of loving attention, perhaps picture yourself as a small child, and wish these sentiments to yourself as that child. Now, as you sit and breathe normally and naturally, say these phrases (or similar well-wishes) silently to yourself:
May I be safe from inner and outer harm.
May I be happy.
May I be peaceful.
May I accept myself just as I am.
Lean into these phrases as you say them to yourself silently, truly wishing them for yourself, as you might genuinely wish a loved one well. You may experience feelings of love, warmth, gratitude or compassion. Notice these feelings and allow yourself to lean in to them. Repeat these phrases, directed to yourself, two more times. If you forget, or repeat them out of order, it’s ok. You can’t do this wrong. Remember, this meditation is all about your intention, not perfection.
Now that you’ve repeated these phrases to yourself three times, bring to mind a beloved friend or someone in your life who makes you feel loved and cared for. It can even be a pet! Next, repeat these phrases of loving-kindness toward them:
May you be safe from inner and outer harm.
May you be happy.
May you be peaceful.
May you accept yourself just as you are.
Connect with feelings of love or warmth toward this person as you say the phrases, and repeat them for a total of three times.
To continue this meditation, you will bring to mind a “neutral” person (someone you passed on the street, or perhaps the cashier at the grocery store) and wish them well with these same phrases, three times, and finally, you will do the same for a person with whom you have some difficulty. It doesn’t have to be the most difficult person in your life at the moment, maybe just the fellow who cut you off on the freeway on your way home. Again, repeat the phrases silently three times, with intention. After you have completed saying the phrases three times each for yourself and these individuals, imagine sending these loving and kind wishes to all Beings, everywhere, including yourself! May all Beings be safe from inner and outer harm. May we all be happy. May we all be peaceful. May we all accept ourselves and each other, just as we are.
If these phrases don’t resonate for you, feel free to make up phrases that better represent you, and your feeling of loving-kindness. If you notice that “opposite” feelings arise (it happens sometimes), such as sadness, grief or agitation, be compassionate with yourself. These are just feelings, and will pass through you, just as your breath does.
Carla Taddeo is a Life Coach, with a rich background in Mindfulness and meditation. She recently brought Mindfulness to the Huntington Beach Union School District, where the strategies are used district wide. Carla has a passion for helping people to navigate their lives in ways that bring peace, joy, and a sense of purpose. carlataddeohealingarts.com
Yoga Wake Up offers a Loving Kindness guided meditation by Maeve McCaffrey. Find it on the app and if you try it with us or on your own, please comment below and tell us about your experience.