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.
Loving-kindness, or metta, as it in called in the Pali language, is unconditional, inclusive love, a love with wisdom. It has no conditions; it does not depend on whether one “deserves” it or not; it is not restricted to friends and family; it extends out from personal categories to include all living beings. There are no expectations of anything in return. This is the ideal, pure love, which everyone has in potential. We begin with loving ourselves, for unless we have a measure of this unconditional love and acceptance for ourselves, it is difficult to extend it to others. Then we include others who are special to us, and, ultimately, all living things. Gradually, both the visualization and the meditation phrases blend into the actual experience, the feeling of loving kindness.
This is a meditation of care, concern, tenderness, loving kindness, friendship–a feeling of warmth for oneself and others. The practice is the softening of the mind and heart, an opening to deeper and deeper levels of the feeling of kindness, of pure love. Loving kindness is without any desire to possess another. It is not a sentimental feeling of goodwill, not an obligation, but comes from a selfless place. It does not depend on relationships, on how the other person feels about us. The process is first one of softening, breaking down barriers that we feel inwardly toward ourselves, and then those that we feel toward others.
So I invite you to join with me in this meditation of developing an attitude and energy of loving kindness – but before we begin lets spend a moment to reflect on the words of the beautiful Oria Mountain Dreamer
She says “Sometimes in my humans I forget who I am is enough! Especially when I am hurt or afraid of being unloved. Immersed in the pain and fear that is part of this forgetting I sometimes hurt another! Yet even this for which I must take responsibility causes me not to change but to be who I truly am. To hold myself and the other within my innately compassionate heart and I learn about the expansiveness of who we are – an expansiveness that makes us capable of compassion where we thought it was impossible ….