"If we extend the force of love, love will return to us.”
This week I led the practice of Metta meditation to the teacher training group I am with in Thailand.
Metta is described as loving kindness. It is a practice to become better friends with yourself. It is practiced for a few minutes after Vipassana meditation because if any past karma or old wounds arise during Vipassana, you can soothe yourself with the metta.
We begin metta first with ourselves. This is the essential foundation of offering genuine love to others.
The practice develops in levels from:
Self Benefactor (Close friend, partner or teacher) Friend Neutral Person Enemy/ Conflicting Person
Through these levels, we learn not to denigrate ourselves to uphold another person’s happiness.
To practice metta: Close your eyes, contact a sense of love and compassion within yourself. Imagine that love washing over your body. What does it look like? Does it have a color? A temperature? Now imagine sending yourself that love and repeat to yourself, “May I be happy, may I be well, may I be full of peace.”
Now move on to a close friend, teacher or partner. Choose someone who brings about a great sense of love within you. Imagine sending the metta to him or her and repeat, “May he or she be happy, well and full of peace.”
Continue the practice, with a friend, neutral person, and finally, a person who has caused conflict in your life. The idea of metta is to hold a place of loving kindness even for (and especially for) these people.
Through metta, we learn to walk in friendship with ourselves and with all beings. We are planting the seeds of peace and happiness that will bare fruit with time. By opening to the love within us, we open to the love that is there, all around us.
Some benefits of the metta practice include:
1) You will sleep easily
2) You will wake easily
3) You will have pleasant dreams
4) People will love you
5) Devas (celestial beings) and animals will love you
6) Devas will protect you
7) External dangers will not harm you
8) Your face will be radiant
9) Your mind will be serene
10) You will die unconfused
11) You will be reborn in happy realms
May you be happy, may you be well, may you be full of peace.