Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I would like to share with you a creative meditation practice that is a staple in Buddhist practice. It is called Metta Meditation. In Sanskrit the word is Maitri.
Metta means love or kindness. Maybe even compassion or friendliness. I like the translation of "an active interest in others." (It is often difficult to translate Pali into English because of the differences in the language and culture, so sometimes it is nice to have many translations so that you can get more of a feeling for the word.)
Metta Meditation is a practice where you make up phrases that wish well towards yourself and others. It develops good feeling towards others. It helps you understand that we are all similar. It helps you deal with sticky relationships. It helps you dig yourself out of the sludge and muck of self centered existence... which could be disguised as depressive tendency.
I had done a little metta in the past, but when I started practicing it more regularly with my meditation teacher Lisa, I didn't feel much at all. It was quite disconcerting for me. I wasn't sure if it was an inability to concentrate or an inability to wish well for others. I got really interested in it because of the knot it gave me mentally. I felt like something wasn't flowing. I started practicing it exclusively for some time. I am still a raw beginner at this practice, but I was amazed at how quickly I started to feel changes. Shortly after I started practicing it consistently I attended my brother's wedding. The amount of pure love for my family that I had when I was there was so strong. I was amazed that I went a few days without thinking of myself. I actually remember the first thought I had about myself that weekend, because it was so obvious.
I attributed the way I felt to my metta practice.
I am not sure how many of you feel disconnected to people at times, or have had dry spells of feeling towards the important people in your life. This is a practice that may help you. It really seemed silly to me at first. Even annoying. But over time it may flower into something that is very energizing.
You start with saying these phrases towards yourself. Then you can pick a friend whom you really like to repeat them for. Then you can choose a person that you have neutral feelings for and repeat the phrases. You can finish repeating the phrases with someone you don't like (which is a very interesting practice!).
You can also start with yourself and proceed spatially. So the second grouping could be the people in the room, third the people in your town, fourth the people in your territory, country, whole world, and lastly, the universe.
The phrases are done internally, not out loud. The whole practice may take as little as 10 minutes to upwards of 1 hour.
These are some phrases that my teacher Lisa uses. One of them is Micheal Stone's.

May I be free from harm.
May I be healthy and strong.
May my mind be peaceful and happy.
May I be free from any form of lack.
May I live with ease and joy in this life.
May I awaken.

After this you can substitute "I" for the next subject.
Example: May Sarah be free from harm. etc.

Persistence and patience are key in this practice.
All the best to you.

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