The Practice of Loving-Kindness
Loving-kindness, or Metta, is the practice of extending unconditional love to ourselves and to all living beings in the vast universe. For many people, saying the mantra and letting compassion well up inside of us works well, but for more visual people, it may be helpful to add mental imagery to your loving-kindness mantra or prayer.
The Metta Mantra
May I be happy and healthy
May I have the strength to overcome all obstacles
May I have the courage to love openly and honestly
May I cultivate gentleness and humility
May I prosper and always be generous
May I gain wisdom from all of life’s experiences
May I find peace, in this life and in any lives to come
The loving-kindness mantra starts with wishing well for ourselves, to reinforce our positive qualities and to encourage the development of characteristics we would like to be a part of us. We then make these wishes for the various groups of people in our lives: our parents, our relatives, our friends, our teachers, our co-workers, all animals, all neutral persons, our enemies, and all sentient beings. The more often we repeat the mantra, the more effectively we physically rewrite the neural pathways of our brain to react to people and situations differently.
May all sentient beings be happy and healthy
This is the core of the Metta mantra and is the most important line. Picture the person or group of people enjoying good health and smiling abundantly, being a source of positive energy everywhere they go.
May all sentient beings have the strength to overcome all obstacles
When we wish for others to have the strength to overcome all obstacles, we can visualize the person or group of people persevering during hard times, such as dealing with the loss of a job or a family member, struggling with financial stress, or battling depression. Visualize the person being courageous and living well in the midst of adversity.
May all sentient beings have the courage to love openly and honestly
When we wish for others to have the courage to love openly and honestly, we can visualize the person or group of people acting genuinely from the heart. Picture them communicating honestly and effectively, sharing their feelings, hopes, and dreams with the people close to them, and being receptive to the needs of others.
May all sentient beings cultivate gentleness and humility
When we wish for others to cultivate gentleness and humility, we can visualize the person or group of people acting selflessly for the good of others. Imagine them letting go of their pride and ego, always being humble and courteous to their elders, equals, and juniors alike.
May all sentient beings prosper and always be generous
When we wish for others to prosper and always be generous, we can visualize the person or group of people finding financial success and being generous with the people in their lives, as well as donating to charities and strangers that may need help. Generosity extends far beyond financial concerns, so we can also visualize the person being content and joyful, and sharing that joy with every person they meet. Sharing a smile can make all the difference in the world to someone who is having a hard day.
May all sentient beings gain wisdom from all of life’s experiences
When we wish for others to gain wisdom from all of life’s experiences, we can visualize the person or group of people coming to a realization about the truth of cause and effect (karma). Picture them seeing the error of their ways and vowing to do better and be better next time. We can also visualize them finding a fortunate rebirth in their next life due to their accumulated wisdom and good karma.
May all sentient beings find peace, in this life and in any lives to come
When we wish for others to find peace, we can visualize the person or group of people fostering relaxation and tranquility in their lives. Picture them being free from all fears, anxiety, and worries. They move through life with a sense of ease and grace, sharing the energy of peace and nonviolence with everyone they meet.
On the Road
One of the best times to practice loving-kindness is when driving. When people cut us off, drive slow, honk, and drive aggressively it’s all too easy to get upset. When we feel the upset rising, we can counter it with kindness, by thinking about the other human being in that vehicle, and wishing “may you be happy and healthy.” This can be extended to every driver we see on the road, wishing long life and prosperity to every person we pass. Doing this on a regular basis will effectively calm road rage and strengthen our equanimity for all living beings.
Om Mani Padme Hum
To strengthen your heart chakra further you can also chant Kuan Yin (Avalokiteshvara)’s mantra of universal compassion, which is “Om Mani Padme Hum”. Om Mani Padme Hum loosely translates to = the jewel is in the lotus. This means that all living beings have the same nature, and are all equally deserving of our love. We are the lotus flower, growing through the dark mud to blossom beautifully atop the pond of reality.
Loving-Kindness at Crystal Life
Learn more about the loving-kindness mantra in my previous blog: Loving- Kindness: The Language of the Heart.