Loving-Kindness (Metta) Meditation

by Phil Brown

Love Metta There are many ways to invoke loving-kindness in the spirit of traditional Buddhist practice. Here are a few variations for internal chanting from different sources. In each case, the sequence may (and should) eventually be repeated by replacing the ‘I’ with the name of another person or ‘all beings’.  Many teaches encourage making a personal adaptation if it feels right and facilitates a heartfelt practice.  If ‘love’ is a word which is charged in a way that makes the practice difficult for you to send to others, consider using ‘ kind friendliness’ instead.

  1. Traditional phrases – from Sharon Salzberg:
  • May I be free from danger and live in safety
  • May I be happy
  • May I be healthy
  • May I live with ease
  1. Adapted from Jeanne Reis (via Insight Meditation Society) and Jack Kornfield
  • May I dwell in well-being
  • May my heart be filled with love
  • May I live with joy
  • May I be healthy, safe and happy
  1. Jon Kabat-Zinn — Guided Mindfulness Meditation CDs
  • May I be safe, protected and free from inner and outer harm
  • May I be happy and contented
  • May I be healthy and whole to whatever degree is possible
  • May I experience ease of well-being
  1. Jefferson Hospital Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program
  • May I be peaceful and happy
  • May I be safe from harm
  • May I be as healthy and strong as I can be
  • May I live with ease of well-being

Other resources: http://www.contemplativemind.org/practices/tree/loving-kindness


Background for Loving Kindness Meditation — Overview from March 23 BSBC Meeting

The brahmavihāras (sublime attitudes, lit. “abodes of brahma”) are a series of four Buddhist virtues and the meditation practices made to cultivate them. They are also known as the four immeasurables (Sanskrit: apramāṇa, Pāli: appamaññā)

According to the Metta Sutta, Gautama Buddha held that cultivation of the four immeasurables has the power to cause the practitioner to be reborn into a “Brahmā realm” (Pāli: Brahmaloka). The meditator is instructed to radiate out to all beings in all directions the mental states of:

  • loving-kindness or benevolence
  • compassion
  • empathetic joy
  • equanimity

These virtues are also highly regarded by Buddhists as powerful antidotes to negative mental states (non-virtues) such as avarice, anger and pride.
Metta bhavana, or loving-kindness meditation, is a method of developing compassion. It comes from the Buddhist tradition, but it can be adapted and practiced by anyone, regardless of religious affiliation; loving-kindness meditation is essentially about cultivating love. Love without clinging.

Contemporary instruction for the cultivation of benevolence is often based in part on a method found in Buddhaghosa’s 5th-century CE Pāli text, the Path to Purification (Pali:Visuddhimagga)

A few recent psychological studies suggest that benevolence meditation

  • may impact health and well-being. One study done suggests benevolence meditation can increase social connectedness. Benevolence meditation has also been shown to
  • reduce pain and anger in people with chronic lower back pain.
  • can help boost positive emotions and well-being in life, fostering the personal resources that come from experiencing positive emotion.

Science speaks to the benefits of Metta practice
An EEG study by Richard J. Davidson of people who meditate in metta, with a minimum of 10,000 hours practice, showed substantial differences in the magnitude of gamma waves as well as gamma synchronization, particularly during meditative sessions, and directly afterwards. During baseline states, where the subject was not engaged in the practice of metta

Bottom Line: Including Metta Meditation is recommended. Try it today!

About Phil Brown

Philip Brown, PhD, is currently the president of the Buddhist Sangha of Bucks County. Learn more about Phil and other members
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