Create Your Own Loving Kindness Meditation

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Loving Kindness MeditationThe Mettā, or Maitrī, meditation is a loving-kindness practice. Mettā is the Pali word, Maitrī is the Sanskrit word, literally translating to mean unconditional friendliness to oneself and others.

The practice is ancient and stems from the Buddhist tradition of cultivating compassion. But really, a Mettā practice need not be affiliated to any religion, culture or tradition, and although ancient, it certainly hasn’t gone out of style. When is comes to unconditional friendliness, unconditional love, unconditional kindness—we all can give and take a little more.

A Traditional Metta Meditation

There are many forms of the metta practice; the most traditional form is a very simple well wish to yourself, followed by an offering of this wish to others. You begin offering the practice to yourself:

May I be happy

May I feel safe

May I be free from suffering

May I be at peace

Then you can direct the practice to someone you love—someone who you have no complicated feeling towards, who you can easily, without confusion, offer feelings of loving kindness. With an image of them in your mind, silently repeat:

May you be happy

May you feel safe

May you be free from suffering

May you be at peace

Then direct the practice and feelings of loving kindness to someone neutral—someone with whom you don’t really know on any deep level, but perhaps you see often. This could be the cashier at the local grocery, your regular barista at Starbucks, or someone in your company that you don’t know. With an image of them in your mind, silently repeat:

May you be happy

May you feel safe

May you be free from suffering

May you be at peace

Then direct the practice toward someone who you harbor negative feelings toward. This could be an “enemy,” a “frenemy,” or someone who you are having difficulty with. This step will likely be the most difficult for you, but try to be open to the practice. With an image of them in your mind, silently repeat:

May you be happy

May you feel safe

May you be free from suffering

May you be at peace

Then direct your practice toward everyone, everywhere. With the notion of everyone in the entire world in your mind, silently repeat:

May you all be happy

May you all feel safe

May you all be free from suffering

May you all be at peace

Customize Your Own Practice

The traditional form of the Mettā practice is wonderful and effective. You will notice a shift in your attitude if you regularly practice. Once you get the hang of it, try to create your own, more personalized Mettā practice. Susan Piver, a bestselling author and meditation teacher, gave me this idea, so that you can connect with the meditation more personally. Ask yourself what it is you need or want in your life, and create a wish for yourself pertinent to that need.

For example, if you are undergoing a life transition and confused about which way to steer at the fork in the road, perhaps your mantra will be:

May I be happy

May I gain clarity

May I be free of confusion

May I live with ease

You don’t need to stick to the same format and you can expand and make it as long as you’d like. Here are some guiding questions to help you create your own:

  • What matters most to you?
  • What would you like to build, create, or nurture in your life?
  • What would you like to let go of?
  • How do you feel when you are your happiest self, and what makes you happy?
  • What makes you proud?
  • What fears would you like to release?
  • What are you grateful for?
  • What word(s) would you like to align your heart with?
  • What word(s) would you like to align your mind with?

You can do the same for a loved one or benefactor. If there is something they need, you can tailor the practice to what they are going through at that time.

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Melissa Eisler

Melissa Eisler is an ICF certified leadership and career coach, certified meditation and yoga instructor, and author. She created Mindful Minutes to offer practical, relatable anecdotes and tips on how to bring mindfulness into the busyness of the digital age. Her intention is to share what she learns about overcoming her own challenges with meditation, mindfulness, and life balance while maintaining a challenging schedule and career. Learn more about Melissa here.

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