This past Friday I led a group of meditators in a guided metta meditation.
Metta is a Pali word which is often translated as “loving-kindness” although in practice it plays out even more broadly, as goodwill, as respect, as the wish to benefit. Good-heartedness.
It’s been a long while since I guided this practice.
If you haven’t done this one, you can:
a) read about it on Wikipedia
b) follow along on You Tube
c) really learn all about it on Access to Insight
d) check out the abbreviated, adapted version below.
(each step is at least 2-3 minutes long)
1) Start with focus on the breath. Breath for a while.
2) Focus on heart chakra. Breath through heart chakra for a while.
3) Imagine a puppy or kitten. Extend metta to the puppy or kitten.
4) Imagine yourself. Extend metta to yourself. (metta is not a non-dual practice))
5) Imagine a benefactor (friend, parent, etc.) Extend metta to them.
6) Imagine a neutral person (janitor, clerk in a store, a real person) Extend metta to them.
7) Imagine an adversary. ( a competitor, a critic, a ex) Extend metta to them.
(If you cannot extend metta to an adversary, return to an earlier step and continue)
8 ) Extend metta to everyone in this meditation room.
9) Extend metta to everyone in this city.
10) Extend metta to everyone in this region.
11) Extend metta to everyone in this country.
12) Extend metta to everyone in this world.
13) Extend metta to everyone in this universe, and even beyond…
By this step, the combined force of the 15 meditators was creating dynamic waves of energy, about one cycle per second, which swept over me delightfully.
14) Gently bring attention back into the room.
When you are ready, look around.
All these people have extended metta to you, and you to them.
Now, it was time for the Dharma talk.
There are lots of cool topics related to loving-kindness, lots of directions to go.
But, the cool things I had found were a little removed from everyday life.
Something more immediate and closer to experience waited for expression.
So I did what I have never heard any teacher or instructor do.
I admitted that I knew no more about this subject than anyone else present,
and then invited people to share stories of metta in their lives.
And people shared.
This was way better than any talk I could have given.
I felt truly touched by how down-to-earth the sharing was.
I encountered wonderful examples of every person who rose to challenging situations through loving-kindness.
I was deeply impressed with the universality of metta, the qualities and activities which have allowed this life and all the lives of people everywhere to exist at all.
I saw and heard the truth of our nature,
the truth of life, from everyone in the room.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings;
Radiating kindness over the entire world:
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded…
excerpt from the Karaniya Metta Sutta
This post about the Friday meeting at the Meditation Learning Center Could be very important. I attended a regular weekly meeting for about two years starting in 2007. After each meeting, the facilitator, it was not always the same person, would send out an email similar to the above post about the meeting and then over the next few days others would comment also. The words were much more meaningful to the participants and often it contained some nice reminders. Perhaps this blog could be used for that and be sent to everyone who attends future talks? Thanks!
Thank you for your comment !
This post has been sent to the MLC site.
I can mention it to S & see what he would like to do.
Kind Regards, – dn
I have been practicing metta for all of about three weeks, but I have found it to be very powerful. I have been practicing it at work (I am an adult education instructor) and while driving–where it is needed most. 🙂 Nothing as formal or as involved as what you have described, of course. I was turned on to it by our priest at the Toledo Zen Center. I like the much more involved version you describe here. I think I will try it. Thank you for sharing!
You have been practicing metta ? How wonderful ! In 2007 I saw Sharon Salzberg – she came to Tucson AZ and did a weekend teaching . One of the practices was ” May I be happy …..May (whoever passes by) be happy! ” as you are driving/walking/waiting in line/walking around/etc. Simple. As you see, it can be formal, or very informal. Yes, driving is a big-time metta practice !! May you be happy, guy who just cut me off illegally ! Eventually, it becomes a natural part of how engagement happens. Until then, we practice. Thank you for reading, for your comments and interest. Kind Regards, – dn
I have been practicing metta. As I said, the priest at the TZC turned me on to it to help with a particluar problem I was having, and I found it to be very powerful and useful in a number of situations outside the original area of concentration. I have used it at work, in the car, at home, and on Facebook, actually. 🙂 Very, very powerful. Probably the most impotant thing I have learned so far. Again, thank you for sharing this!
WOW!!! Thank you for sharing your experience. I participate in a Reiki exchange every month with good friends and fellow Reiki practitioners, and I will suggest that we incorporate Metta practice as an opening. Thank you!!
Thank you for your comments. How wonderful that you start with Metta ! Reiki is so about love, isn’t it ? That’s the real healer – the modality is the carrier wave. Metta will make it more effective by setting a clear and strong selfless intention. Biggest impediment to the flow of energy ? The self concept. Metta gets the attention away from the self concept to others. Thanks for reading. Would be very interested to hear how it turns out. Kind Regards, – dn
Excellent post about Metta… I love how you chose to be open and vulnerable and invite sincere sharing about metta. That was a beautiful move. It takes an authentic teacher to feel comfortable enough to share weaknesses and areas about which one does not know much. Much respect, my friend. 🙂
You are too kind. Have already sent your current post to a friend of mine – our conversation was right on this track… Many thanks, dn
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