(1) Metta Meditation can be included in whatever meditation practice you are already doing, or it can be done by itself.
(2) The best way to sit during meditation is in a comfortable posture, on the floor with your legs crossed or folded and with a pillow under your buttocks. Alternatively you can sit on a chair, making sure your back is straight without being rigid. It is not necessary to try to keep still. If you avoid straining and allow your body to be relaxed and comfortable, you will gradually become still naturally.
(3) Close your eyes and take a few slow, slightly deeper-than–normal breaths.
(4) Now think of yourself and then silently bless yourself with these words: “May I be well and happy. May I be peaceful and calm. May I be protected from dangers. May I achieve my aspirations. May my mind be free from hatred. May my heart be filled with love. May I be well and happy.” Impart this blessing to yourself considering the meaning of each phrase, without rushing and taking two or three minutes altogether.
(5) Now think of one person you love very much, someone whose presence you cherish, and repeat the same blessing: “May they be well and happy,” etc.
(6) Next think of a person you have regular contact with or see occasionally but towards whom you have no feelings one way or another, someone you neither like or dislike. Impart the same blessing to him or her in the same way and for about the same time.
(7) Now call to mind someone you do not particularly like, not someone you have strong feelings against, just someone who irritates you or who you disapprove of, and bless him or her in the same way.
(8) The last of this pentad of blessings can be done in one of two different ways.
(A) Call to mind one person you know or know of who is having difficulties- perhaps they are ill, grieving, depressed or burdened with worries- and radiate the same blessing towards him or her.
(B) Alternatively, you can radiate your blessing directionally, first in front of yourself, then to your right, behind you and then to your left, above you then below you, saying as you do: “May all beings in this direction be well and happy. May they be peaceful and calm,” etc. .
It is good to alternate these two, doing the first during one meditation session and then the second during the next.
(9) When you have finished, continue to sit for a while, becoming aware of what you are feeling, of any physical sensations or any emotions that might be present. When it seems right, open your eyes and get up.
(10) While Metta Meditation is usually done while sitting in solitude, a skilful and creative person can do it anywhere. Perhaps you are relaxing at home and the music you are listening to has made you feel quietly joyful or uplifted. You might like to continue sitting where you are, close your eyes and do Metta Meditation there. It may be that you are walking in the woods and the song of the birds and the sunlight on the leaves has made you feel very positive and content. If you can find a convenient place to sit, although not necessarily cross-legged, you can do Metta Meditation there. Any time you have an elevated mood, for whatever reason, is a good time to do the practice, even if it is only for a short period.
(11) Here are some other hints on how to make the practice of Metta Meditation more fruitful and transformative.
As you select each person to radiate blessings towards – a loved one, a neutral person, a disliked person and then someone in distress or towards all beings – it can help you focus on them if you create a mental picture of their face.
(12) After having selected each person and radiated a blessing to them for about five or six meditation sessions, you can select other people. Later, if it seems appropriate, you can return to the earlier ones.
(13) It is good to use the particular blessings mentioned above, at least until you become familiar with the practice and comfortable with it. Later you can alternate them with these other blessings.
“May I be well and happy. May I be peaceful and calm. May I be surrounded by family and friends. May I love others and be loved by others. May I always live in concord. May I never meet with hostility. May I be well and happy.”
“May I be well and happy. May I be peaceful and calm. May I remain strong in times of hardship. May I be forbearing in the face of provocation. May I grow in virtue and goodness. May my journey through life be smooth. May I be well and happy.”
Then repeat the same blessings for a loved one, a neutral person, a disliked person, and then to someone in distress or to all beings.
The purpose of the structured Metta Meditation is to help you get started and to guide you until you arrive at the stage when radiating mettā becomes natural and spontaneous. Then you will be able to radiate kindness, goodwill and warmth without the aid of any verbalised formula and for as long as it feels right.
(14) There is a close connection between positive feeling and the different types of love and this is particularly true of mettā. The two often accompany each other. The feelings aroused by love can range from serenity to joy, gladness, delight, lightness of mind, or just a subtle background feeling of contented well-being. When you feel positive your thoughts tend to turn to positive memories and imaginings. Likewise, thinking positive thoughts or recalling positive experiences can arouse positive feelings. Although Metta Meditation can be done at any time, the best time is when you are feeling positive. If you are practising a particular type of meditation on a regular basis, you will know that the mind can be focused one day and agitated the next, bored today and energised tomorrow. Sometimes, days can go past when your meditation practice is “nothing special”. But sometimes a meditation session evokes a serene joy or occasionally even a sudden and unexpected burst of rapture. This is the best time to do Metta Meditation although, as said before, it can be done at other times too. When Metta Meditation is done to the accompaniment of positive feeling, it makes the blessings you radiate more earnest and heartfelt. They seem to come from somewhere deeper in your being. Done like this, Metta Meditation can impart a smiling countenance that will continue even after you have finished your meditation.
(15) The only time when it is not suitable to try to arouse mettā or to do Metta Meditation is when you are angry. When you are fuming, enraged or indignant the furthest thing from your mind is mettā or indeed any positive intentions or feelings. The most you would succeed in doing is suppressing your real feelings or mistaking them for what they are not. A more psychologically sound strategy is to recognise the anger for what it is, hold yourself back from saying or doing anything, and let the anger gradually dissipate. Next day or next week, should you still feel residual anger towards the person who provoked it, you can include them in your Metta Meditation.