Mettā Bhāvanā – Meditation on Loving Kindness
Mettā is friendliness. The meditation on mettā is, spreading thoughts of loving kindness to oneself and everyone else, in the manner the Supreme Buddha taught us. Loving kindness is not just a thought, it is actually a feeling towards others. One who is friendly, one who spreads thoughts of loving kindness, does not harm oneself or anyone else. By practicing mettā meditation, gradually, one develops the mind to give up thoughts of anger and hatred. The loving kindness mediation brings peace and happiness here in this very life and in the next life as well.
You can practice mettā meditation anytime, anywhere, despite the busy schedule. You can spread the thoughts of loving kindness focusing an individual, a group or all living beings. For example, at home, while preparing a meal, you may spread the thoughts of loving kindness to your spouse or a child, or towards those who enjoy the meal. You may prepare food with a happy mind thinking, “may those who eat this food be happy, well and peaceful”. While cleaning the house or washrooms, or doing laundry, you may spread the thoughts of loving kindness, thinking “may those who use this house/ washrooms/ clothes be happy, well and peaceful”. At the workplace, you may spread the thoughts of loving kindness towards a co-worker or someone one who irritates you, or towards everyone in the office, thinking “may this person /these co-workers be happy, well and peaceful”. At a meeting, or at a public place, you may spread the thoughts of loving kindness towards someone grumpy. When driving, it is easy to get irritated because of the other drivers on the road. Instead of developing thoughts of anger, you may spread the thoughts of loving kindness, thinking “may these drivers be happy, well and peaceful”. In each of these situations, practicing loving kindness brings peace and calmness to you, immediately.
We do many things for others daily without a purpose. We do things for others not because we enjoy doing them, we do them because we are obligated to. While we do things for others daily, we can practice loving kindness. Explained below is how you develop thoughts of loving kindness, according to the teachings of the Buddha.
While at home
While at the Workplace
Towards an individual,
As you can see, we miss many opportunities to spread loving kindness daily because of our unawareness
You may practice the long-form of the mettā meditation as explained below. Find a peaceful place to meditate; a place free from disturbances. You can practice mettā meditation in any of the four postures: while sitting, standing, walking or reclining, whichever is comfortable to you. You spread the thoughts of loving kindness towards all beings, enormously and unconditionally. The thoughts of loving kindness must come from deep within you, not pretentiously. The Supreme Buddha showed us two ways to practice loving kindness meditation, appamāna ceto vimutti (infinite- mental-emancipation) and mahaggata ceto vimutti (great-mental-emancipation). Appamāna ceto vimutti is spreading loving kindness to all beings live in all directions. Mahaggata ceto vimutti is spreading loving kindness to beings around you by gradually expanding the land area covered. You may choose one of the methods to practice the long-form of the mettā meditation.
Appamāna ceto vimutti (Infinite- mental-emancipation)
In this method, you spread thoughts of loving kindness to all beings live in the ten detections: four main directions (North, East, South and West), four intermediate directions (Northeast, Southeast, Northwest and Southwest) and above and below you, enormously (appamāna).
Mahaggata ceto vimutti (Great-mental-emancipation)
Here, first you develop loving kindness to yourself. Then, you spread the thoughts of loving kindness to all beings around, gradually expanding the land area.
Benefits of loving kindness meditation
The Supreme Buddha explained the benefits of the loving kindness meditation in the Mettānisaṁsa sutta. One who practices loving kindness will experience ten benefits, here in this very life and one in the next life.
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