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Metta

Posted by Betsy McCall from Art Monastery Project


 TARGET GROUP

Group size

1 - 500

Is participant experience relevant?

It's okay if participants haven't seen the inside of a classroom in years.

Physical trust needed

Mental trust needed

 REQUIREMENTS

Duration

10 minutes - 60 minutes

Experience level of the facilitator

routine as participant OR professional facilitator

Number of facilitators

1

 CHARACTER OF THE  METHOD

Level of activation

calming

Woo-Woo Level - How touchy-feely is this method?

From 1.Rationalist-Materialist "No feelings here, folks." to 5.Esoteric-Shamanic Bleeding Heart:

Innovation Phases:

2 Creating an Innovation-Friendly Culture
3 Fostering New Perspectives & Ways of Thinking

Method Category:

Appreciative / Community building
Awareness raising
Ceremony / Ritual
Conflict resolution
Opener

SHORT DESCRIPTION

This flexible non-religious guided meditation can be a powerful attitude changer, sending well wishes to all beings.

ALTERNATIVE NAME OF THE METHOD

Lovingkindness meditation

 BACKGROUND

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

"Metta" is a Pali word (or "maitri" in Sanskrit) meaning lovingkindness, benevolence, friendliness, goodwill, close mental union (on same mental wavelength), and active interest in others. The practice of Metta is one of the ten paramitas (perfections) of the Theravada school of Buddhism.

The cultivation of benevolence is a popular form of meditation in Buddhism. In the Theravadan Buddhist tradition, this practice begins with the meditator cultivating benevolence towards themselves, then one's loved ones, friends, teachers, strangers, enemies, and finally towards all sentient beings. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, this practice is associated with tonglen, whereby one breathes in (receiving) suffering, transforms it in their heart, and breathes out (radiating) happiness. In the practice shared here, we practice Metta on ourselves after all the individuals, just before we extend our well wishes to all beings.

Tonglen is also described in this database.

ORIGINAL SOURCE

This is an ancient practice originally from Theravadan Buddhism.

 STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE

PREPARATION (excluding materials)

Preparation
Make sure there will be no disruptions for the length of the meditation. This can be altered to take anywhere from 5 minutes to more than an hour. (There are entire weeklong retreats dedicated to just this practice!)

Come to a comfortable seated position. Let your spine be erect and free. You can sit on the edge of a chair (not leaning on the back) or sit on a cushion on the floor such that your hips are higher than your knees. The most important thing is to take a position that is comfortable, relaxed, and active.

Let your exhale fall out of you, sighing. Sink into your seat, feeling your weight on your sitting surface. Bring your attention down into your heart area. Tune in. Can you feel your physical heart beating? Take a few breaths here.

Bring your awareness to your own being. Feel what it is like to occupy your body right now. Connecting with all the different parts of you, all of your different emotions and ways of being, the vastness that is you, silently repeat these phrases. Really occupy each wish. Imagine, with all the vibrant specificity and concrete detail you can muster, that each of these is true. Wish this with your whole heart. Visualize that this is already true, right now.

1 Someone you feel grateful to

Allow someone to arise in your mind to whom you feel grateful. Traditionally, this would be your teacher, or the person who brought you to your spiritual path. For our purposes, this could be a mentor or a dear friend, someone who has helped you. Because of the complicated nature of romantic relationships, it is best not to begin with a romantic partner.
Don't get caught up in choosing the person. You can take the first person who pops into your mind. Bring this person clearly and specifically to mind, connecting with them wherever they are or imagining that they are sitting in front of you.
[The following sentences are invitations. You can riff on what each one means to you. You can adjust the wording in your mind. You can be as creative as you like, as long as the spirit of the wish is intact. Take a few breaths with each of the five sections.]

*May you be peaceful and happy. (May you be centered and joyous.)
*May you be healthy and strong. (May you be flexible. May you be free from disease. May you be healthy on every level, in every way. May you be free of all addictions. May you be resilient.)
*May you be safe and at ease. (May you know that you are safe. May you feel safety so that you may offer it to others.)
*May you live with lovingkindness and compassion. (May you be generous and welcoming. May you offer others safe harbor.)
*May you fully awaken and be completely free. (May you see clearly. May you be free of all suffering. May you be totally liberated and utterly free.)

Imagining that person in all their fullness and each of these wishes being true, let them go. Breathe in and out of your heart.


2 Neutral person

Allow a new person to come to mind. This time let it be someone about whom you feel neutral. It could be the bus driver, the cashier from the grocery store, someone you saw on the street. Let it be a specific person you saw but don't know all that well. The first person that comes to mind who fits this description is the one to go with.
[For each section of the meditation, repeat the same first line, but vary what comes in the parenthetical statements after the first. Let it be your own meditation to say what comes to you, varying on the theme. This makes it easier for beginners to stay focused.]
*May you be peaceful and happy. (May you be centered and joyous.)
*May you be healthy and strong. (May you be flexible. May you be free from disease. May you be healthy on every level, in every way. May you be free of all addictions. May you be resilient.)
*May you be safe and at ease. (May you know that you are safe. May you feel safety so that you may offer it to others.)
*May you live with lovingkindness and compassion. (May you be generous and welcoming. May you offer others safe harbor.)
*May you fully awaken and be completely free. (May you see clearly. May you be free of all suffering. May you be totally liberated and utterly free.)

Imagining that person in all their fullness and each of these wishes being true, let them go. Breathe in and out of your heart.


3 Challenging person

Sending the neutral person off with all these heartfelt well wishes, now let someone come to mind who is more challenging for you. This could be the person you had the biggest conflict with yesterday, it could be someone you've had a longstanding beef with, it could be a world leader with whom you disagree.
Bring this person clearly and specifically to mind, connecting with them wherever they are or imagining that they are sitting in front of you.
(If you are unable to conjure authentic well wishes for this person, imagine what it would be like if you could. Intending to wish them well can soften and open the heart.)

*May you be peaceful and happy. (May you be centered and joyous.)
*May you be healthy and strong. (May you be flexible. May you be free from disease. May you be healthy on every level, in every way. May you be free of all addictions. May you be resilient.)
*May you be safe and at ease. (May you know that you are safe. May you feel safety so that you may offer it to others.)
*May you live with lovingkindness and compassion. (May you be generous and welcoming. May you offer others safe harbor.)
*May you fully awaken and be completely free. (May you see clearly. May you be free of all suffering. May you be totally liberated and utterly free.)

Imagining that person in all their fullness and each of these wishes being true, let them go. Breathe in and out of your heart.

4 Yourself

Now allow another person to come to mind. This is a specific person. This is you! Once again, bring your awareness to your own being. Feel what it is like to occupy your body right now. Connecting with all the different parts of you, all of your different emotions and ways of being, the vastness that is you, silently repeat these phrases, really visualizing in technicolor that each of these is already true.
(If you meet resistance to wishing yourself these things, which people often do, gently remind yourself that if these things were true you would be able to help more people and be of greater service. This being true for you would ultimately serve everyone.)

*May you be peaceful and happy. (May you be centered and joyous.)
*May you be healthy and strong. (May you be flexible. May you be free from disease. May you be healthy on every level, in every way. May you be free of all addictions. May you be resilient.)
*May you be safe and at ease. (May you know that you are safe. May you feel safety so that you may offer it to others.)
*May you live with lovingkindness and compassion. (May you be generous and welcoming. May you offer others safe harbor.)
*May you fully awaken and be completely free. (May you see clearly. May you be free of all suffering. May you be totally liberated and utterly free.)

Breathe into these well wishes and feeling them reverberate through you. Allow them to permeate you.

5 All Beings

Continuing to hold this lovingkindness wish for yourself, feeling these vibrations in your body and in the area around you, expand your awareness to include the other people in the room. As you wish the other people in this room that they may be well and happy and peaceful, let it also be in your awareness that they are wishing you the same. Let this super charge your intention. With this concentrated group intention, expand your awareness to include all of the people in the building. Expand again to include all of the people in the neighborhood. Allowing your awareness to continue to span outward, incorporate everyone in the city, and continuing out, zooming in a expanding wave of well wishes, to include everyone in the region. Expanding, expanding, include the entire country, and the neighboring countries, and the continent. As your awareness continues to grow and cross the oceans, reach down along the bottoms of the oceans and up into the stratosphere and include all sentient beings, all animals, all plants. Encircling the entire planet and ever expanding to incorporate the galaxy and finally universe and the multiverse, your awareness connects all living things everywhere, visible and not visible, human and non-human.

*May you be peaceful and happy. (May you be centered and joyous.)
*May you be healthy and strong. (May you be flexible. May you be free from disease. May you be healthy on every level, in every way. May you be free of all addictions. May you be resilient.)
*May you be safe and at ease. (May you know that you are safe. May you feel safety so that you may offer it to others.)
*May you live with lovingkindness and compassion. (May you be generous and welcoming. May you offer others safe harbor.)
*May you fully awaken and be completely free. (May you see clearly. May you be free of all suffering. May you be totally liberated and utterly free.)

Take a few minutes in silence, breathing into the reverberations of this experience.

Slowly, when you are ready, come back into your body and into this room. Take some deeper breaths. Let your fingers and toes start to move. When you are ready, open your eyes.
Thank you so much.

 FURTHER INFORMATION


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