Metta is a Pali word for loving kindness, friendliness, and goodwill. Metta practice is coming from the Buddhist tradition and it's teaching us how to cultivate “loving kindness” for ourselves and others.
The Buddha first taught the Metta meditation as an antidote for anger and fear.
By the legend, three angry ghosts wanted to scare a group of monks out of their forest. The monks came to the Buddha and asked him to choose another forest for them to practice in. The Buddha answered, “l am going to send you back to the same forest, but I’ll provide you with the only protection you will need.” The Buddha sat and taught the monks Metta meditation.
When the monks later returned to the forest and practiced Metta, the three ghosts become so touched by the loving energy in the forest they decided to serve the monks, and provide them everything that they need.
According to Buddhism, most of our fears and suffering come from a self inflicted sense of separation. We long to love ourselves and others deeply, to feel more connected. Yet often we contract, fear intimacy, and separate ourselves from the world.
Metta is teaching us how to transform conditional love into unconditional.
As humans we have this need to be happy. If you observe little kids they are so innocent and happy. They can get angry, jealous or sad but they have the ability to change the state they are in, in a matter of seconds. Kids like it when people around them are happy and smiling. Unfortunately, later in life we tend to hold grudges for many years, getting stuck to our stories for our lifetime, allowing anger, jealousy, guilt and shame to control our lives and our world. Our heart slowly contracts under our own expectations regards the world and ourselves.
Hatha yoga and Kundalini yoga poses are great forms of movement that unravel these stuck energies and emotions in the body. Taking online yoga classes or an online yoga teacher training is a great way to learn these practices. If an online yoga class is not right for you at any given moment, the Metta meditation is a beautiful way to center oneself. Some yoga teachers and yoga instructors also incorporate the Metta meditation into their classes.
How to practice Metta?
Metta is done by directing affirmative phrases towards 5 groups of sentient beings.
For example, we can use phrases like:
May I be happy.
May I be safe.
May I be healthy.
And live at ease…
Or whatever affirmative phrase sounds close to you, something that is uplifting and needed in a certain moment.
First, we intend the phrases for ourselves. Without compassion for ourselves, we cannot spread love to others.
Second, we direct our Metta affirmations at a “benefactor.” Someone who was good to us, and we feel gratitude and respect towards.
Third, we direct our intention of loving kindness to someone “neutral.” This is a person we do not have any specific attachments or feelings towards.
Fourth, we extend our Metta mantra towards our “enemy.” Someone that we have difficulties with, and inspires anger within us.
Fifth, we conclude our Metta practice by cultivating love and kindness towards all the sentient beings on Earth. A great wave of love and compassion towards everyone.
You may find this meditation offered in online yoga classes or online meditations. Or you can do this on your own! May You be happy and safe!