Metta bhavana, or loving-kindess meditation, is a type of Buddhist meditation. It is not, however, just for those who practice Buddhism – it is for anyone who is interested in developing compassion for themselves and others.
If you believe the world could use a little more compassion and want to do your part, then you should consider bringing this positive, beneficial practice into your own life. Not only may it help enhance your relationships with others, but it may also improve your mental, emotional, and physical health.
Let’s learn more about the benefits of loving-kindess meditation.
What is Metta Meditation?
The traditional name for metta meditation is metta bhavana, which comes from the Pali language often seen in Buddhist texts. When translated into English, metta means non-romantic love or kindness, and bhavana means cultivation or development.
There isn’t necessarily one right way to practice metta meditation, as different traditions have approached it differently since its inception thousands of years ago. However, every approach typically has the same goal: cultivating unconditional positive feelings toward everyone, including ourselves.
What are the Benefits of Metta Meditation?
Though it is about developing positive emotions toward everyone, metta meditation may actually improve aspects of your own mental and physical health. Let’s take a look.
Reduces Symptoms of Anxiety
Metta meditation is essentially a form of mindfulness meditation, and therefore has some similar effects on the mind and body. For example, one study showed that engaging in this type of practice can significantly decrease symptoms of anxiety.
When we are self-compassionate, we treat ourselves with understanding and kindness, especially in the face of mistakes or hardship. Research shows that metta meditation may reduce self-criticism and enhance self-compassion, allowing us to see ourselves in a more positive light. This, in turn, may increase feelings of happiness and satisfaction with our lives.
Decreases Stress Levels and Physical Pain
Interestingly, metta meditation may even have beneficial physical effects on the body. For example, one study linked this practice to lower pain levels in those with frequent migraines. The researchers attributed the stress-relieving effects of metta meditation to the reduction in physical symptoms.
How Do You Practice Metta Meditation?
As previously stated, there isn’t one right way of engaging in metta meditation. However, a common form of the practice typically touches on the following 5 stages:
- Feeling metta for yourself. You can try repeating a mantra such as “may I be happy and peaceful”.
- Feeling metta for a loved one. Think about your positive feelings toward a good friend or family member. Try sending love to them by changing your mantra: “may they be happy and peaceful”.
- Feeling metta for a neutral relationship. Think about someone you don’t particularly like OR dislike. Send some positivity and kindness their way.
- Feeling metta for someone you dislike. Try and push through your negative feelings toward that person and focus on the positive.
- Feeling metta for everyone. Think about everyone together, including yourself, and then extend those feelings. Send some positivity to your neighbours, those in your country, and everyone all over the world.