Metta, a meditation on loving-kindness
The Pali word Metta (Maitri in Sanskrit) can be translated as loving-kindness, friendliness, amity, benevolence, or goodwill.
To try to define Metta in a few words, would probably be an impossible goal to reach, because of the depth of its meaning. However, we may consider it as a profound exploration of the deepest meanings of love, empathy and caring. It emphasizes on the wish for the welfare and happiness of others and oneself.
We all long for a sense of belonging and connection with others in life. We all long to love ourselves. More often than not, our misunderstanding of who we truly are, our fear of intimacy with others and ourselves, prevent us from experiencing these feelings.
The practice of Metta will help to evoke a warm-hearted feeling of fellowship, sympathy and love, which grows boundless with practice and overcomes all social, religious, racial, political and economic barriers. Metta is indeed a universal, unselfish and all-embracing love. It is devoid of self-interest.
Traditionally, Metta consists of wishing for ourselves:
to be free from danger
to have mental happiness
to have physical happiness
to have ease of well-being
Then, we extend these wishes to a friend, to a neutral person, to a difficult person, to the four directions, and we extend to the entire universe.
There are other modern versions such as:
May I be happy
May I be at ease
May I be healthy
May I be free from danger
As any other meditative exercise, loving-kindness practice may profoundly impact health and well-being. It helps to create conditions for positive emotions to emerge, and to increase the sense of connectedness.
stands for all thing,
even for those things that donâ€™t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on the brow
of the flower,
and retell it in words and in touch,
it is lovely
until flowers again from within, of self-blessingâ€¦
As Sharon Salzberg says, â€śthe nature of Metta is to â€śreteach a thing its lovelinessâ€ť. Through loving-kindness, everyone and everything can flower again from within. When we recover knowledge of our own loveliness and that of others, self-blessing happens naturally and beautifully.â€ť
May you be well and happy, always.
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Text: Sophie Boyer
Sophie comes from France and did nursing care in hospices for 10 years. Her interest in meditation led her to Myanmar(Burma) where she became a buddhist nun for 2 years, and spent extended period of time in secluded and silent retreats. She is concerned about environmental issues as a nature and wildlife lover. She is interested in meditation in daily life and animal communication.