I was first introduced to metta at the end of a 10 day silent meditation retreat in the Blue Mountains of Australia. It was a demanding 10 days, and I could smell the finish line. I was starting to think my head could actually explode from spending too much time inside it.
Metta was a breath of fresh air. We gathered inside the meditation hall, as we had done so many times before, but this time, the atmosphere was decidedly different. I settled into my seated posture, closed my eyes, and awaited instruction.
….“May all beings be peaceful, May all beings be happy”…..
The voice of Goenka rumbled through the sound system. My chest started to ache, and tears began to pour down my cheeks. I felt an overwhelming sense of love and gratitude emanating from inside of my own body. I could actually feel love radiating from my hands and chest. I was hooked.
I have since suspected that they teach metta at the end of the retreat so the meditators go away feeling really good, and forget all about the 10 days of self inflicted torture. Like at the end of child birth you get a beautiful little baby, and you seem to forget all about the pain you endured to get there. Either way, metta is one of the best methods to ditch a bad mood, and instantly start feeling happy from the inside out. Metta has been instrumental in my life, helping me let go of years of self hate, and aiding the repair of a badly damaged relationship.
Intrigued? Good. Read on. The practice of metta is nothing new, its origins stem back to the teachings of the Buddha. It is said that the Buddha gave the practice of metta to monks that were frightened at the prospect of meditating in the jungle by themselves. They were comforted by sending love to the rampaging elephant they may encounter, or the fear in their own heart.
Metta is a pali word that translates into ‘loving kindness’. However, it’s a very specific type of loving kindness, it is caring for the wellbeing of another being, independent of our approval or disapproval of them. These good intentions are like seeds of love and compassion that we plant in the universal field of intellegence. When we practice metta we water these seeds, and in time they will grow and flourish. This is just the tip of the iceberg of a metta practice – but hopefully it’s given you a taste for more.
Metta is the concious cultivation of a kind heart.
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