Metta Bhavana meditation
There are scores of different ways to meditate. Meditation is a way of placing one’s mind in something. It can be an internal mantra, a visualisation or simply an opening up to one’s self in a spacious and inclusive way.
The Buddhist meditation the Metta Bhavana is a practice that can include all three and is a great way to develop warmth that helps us to relax on the inside and glow on the outside. What better practice can we have to warm the cockles of the heart? For this short version of the practice, you will need to sit comfortably for 15 minutes with your back upright, so find a comfortable chair but don’t lean back. Keep your spine tall. Alternatively, sit cross legged with your pelvis raised on a cushion – but only chose this method if you have no hip or knee problems.
Close your eyes and bring to mind the simple phrase
‘May I be happy’.
Just let it sink in, then add
‘May I be well’.
As before, let the phrase sink in.
Notice any secondary thoughts or feelings then add
‘May I be free from suffering’.
You may notice other feelings and thoughts, include those in this spirit of well wishing, even the difficult ones. Let this sense of well wishing pervade your being for around five minutes, repeating the phrases occasionally and allowing any positive images that promote this feeling to thrive.
Expand out using the same process to someone you are fond of and with whom your relationship is not too complicated. Repeat the same phrases for them, allow any condusive, visual images to arise naturally.
After a couple of minutes, spread out further and pick someone that you hardly know. It could be someone you’ve seen out, or the man at the till in Sainsbury’s! Even though you may have only ever exchanged a few words or none at all and you don’t feel that you know them at all. You can know that they would wish for the same happiness that you do. Go through the phrases with the spaciousness to let them sink in as before, add any other phrases or images that may help promote this inner warmth.
Even spend a little time towards the end bringing in someone who you find a bit difficult. When spreading out to this person, don’t be too ambitious too soon – don’t start of with a lifelong enemy, go easy and just work on developing a bit more understanding for someone mildly irritating!
Let the feelings you have developed spread out endlessly, imagining all beings in an ever-widening circle from you, interjecting the phrases and visualising the well wishes spreading to suffuse everyone. After the practice, sit for a few moments with your hands in a prayer position to let you experience sink in.