~Self acceptance is the first step~
Metta meditation also known as loving kindness meditation is a practice widely followed by the Buddhists around the world. Metta in Sanskrit means friendliness or wishing well towards others.
This meditation focuses on sending Metta towards one self and then towards others. This is considered a very important practice as it helps people cultivate love and kindness towards once self. It is used as an antidote to low self esteem and lack of self love which is very common among people today.
Many of us would have developed lack of self love in our childhood due to certain family and societal conditioning. We learn to put our selves down before someone else does as this would make it less painful. Similarly, we learn to disregard our needs as expressing our needs was not acceptable in the society we grew up in.
In Buddhism we do not blame our parents or our society as they were just acting from their own conditioned states. Instead we learn to show kindness towards our selves as well as all others. Further to that, Buddhism emphasize that hatred does not bring anyone peace and only kindness will bring peace. Therefore Metta meditation is a key practice used for cultivating kindness.
Below is my version of Metta meditation. I practice this at least once a day to cultivate kindness towards myself as well as all other beings. At the begging showing Metta towards one self will feel uncomfortable and your body will resist it. Acknowledge this resistance and let it pass and continue on with the practice.
Recite the following in your mind.
Metta for oneself
May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I be at peace
May I be free of suffering
May I be free of anger
May I be free of regret and worry
May I attain the ultimate bliss of Nibbana (Enlightenment)
Metta for others
My parents, siblings, children, friends, neighbors, colleagues, country men, all beings in this world and all the beings in this universe: (Take time to name specific names if you wish)
May they all be happy
May they all be healthy
May they all be at peace
May they all be free of suffering
May they all be free of anger
May they all be free of regret and worry
May they all attain the ultimate bliss of Nibbana
From doing this practice, overtime we develop confidence and learn to accept our selves the way we are. We also learn to let go of the guilt we feel when we are wishing well towards our selves or following our happiness.
Similarly, we will cultivate kindness towards everyone around us. This helps us feel a sense of belonging to our community. This practice also helps us let go of negative emotions like jealousy, envy, fear, worry and doubt we may harbor towards others.
From prolonged practice of Metta we can achieve a calm and stable mind free of negative emotions.
Thank you for reading