What Is Loving-Kindness (Metta) Meditation?

According to the ancient Vedic texts of India, the heart is the source of real feeling and knowing—the very seat of consciousness. Yet we can sometimes keep our hearts so well guarded that true feeling and knowing become inaccessible. The Pali word metta is most often translated as "loving-kindness," and the practice of metta meditation helps open your heart to yourself and to others. The practice can also help us to overcome fear, increase concentration, and support a more peaceful state of mind. 

Use the following steps to experience this beautiful practice.

1. Sit comfortably with a tall spine. Root the sitz bones down and press up through the crown of your head. Take a few moments to become present by cultivating a slow, steady breathing rhythm.

2. Bring your attention within and silently repeat the following affirmations to yourself:

May I/you be protected and safe.
May I/you be happy and at ease.
May I/you be healthy and strong.
May I/you care for myself/yourself wisely.
May I/you be at peace.

There are many variations on these metta affirmations, so find the one that feels right for you. If you observe resistance to sending yourself loving-kindness, just witness that without judgment.

3. Bring your attention to someone you love. Silently send them the same affirmations.

4. Bring your attention to someone you have difficulty with and silently send them the affirmations. If you have resistance, just notice it with compassion.

5. Bring your attention to all beings everywhere, silently sending the affirmations to everyone everywhere.

6. Let go of the affirmations. Place your attention in your heart. For a few moments simply breathe, relax, and observe the effects of the meditation.

Janna Delgado, E-RYT 1000, Kripalu faculty member and curriculum developer for the Kripalu Yoga in the Schools program, is a facilitator and trainer for RISE, an evidence-based program in conscious leadership.

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