Loving-kindness meditation is also called metta meditation or the metta prayer. The metta prayer is the type of meditation that has benefits that reach far beyond just the person who is practicing it. The intention of loving-kindness meditation and the metta mantra is to send positive energy out to all beings, which is a slightly different concept from other traditional meditation methods.
We can each try to help to facilitate a good life for all of humankind even from afar by reciting the metta prayer. One intention of loving-kindness meditation is to encourage us to put our lives on pause for a moment to focus on bringing positivity and abundance unto others, as well as ourselves.
‘The practice of loving-kindness is about cultivating love as a strength, a muscle, a tool ‘(Sharon Salzberg).
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Metta prayer origin
The term metta appears in many ancient texts studied in meditation teacher training such as Kakacupama Sutta and Karaniya Metta Sutta. This type of meditation has been practiced by Buddhists for thousands of years, however some scholars would say that the Buddha did not claim the creation of the metta meditation and the three other concepts associated with Brahmavihara.
The three other virtues associated with Brahmavihara are: compassion (karuna), empathetic joy (mudita) and equanimity (upekkha). Love is known as metta. Together those four virtues are known as the four immeasurables in Buddhism. These four qualities expand our capacity for experience.
What is the metta prayer?
The word ‘metta' in Pali, a language closely related to Sanskrit, means positive energy and kindness towards others, or loving-kindness towards others. Unlike traditional meditation where the idea is to observe our thoughts, loving-kindness meditation and the metta prayer very much focus on the thoughts of spreading love, happiness, health, peace, and freedom.
As suggested by HeartsOnYoga, if everyone were to practice the metta prayer once a week, the world would be a much better place. It is a simple but profound mantra, and there are adaptations to it, but the original Buddhist Metta Prayer is below.
You could also choose to pull out one or two sentences and incorporate some simple metta meditation phrases throughout the day versus repeating the entire script.
Metta prayer script
My heart fills with loving kindness. I love myself. May I be happy. May I be well. May I be peaceful. May I be free.
May all beings in my vicinity be happy. May they be well. May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings in my city be happy. May they be well. May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings in my state be happy. May they be well. May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings in my country be happy. May they be well. May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings on my continent be happy. May they be well. May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings in my hemisphere be happy. May they be well. May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings on planet Earth be happy. May they be well. May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May my parents be happy. May they be well. May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all my friends be happy. May they be well. May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all my enemies be happy. May they be well. May they be peaceful. May they be free.
May all beings in the Universe be happy. May they be well. May they be peaceful. May they be free.
If I have hurt anyone, knowingly or unknowingly in thought, word or deed, I ask for their forgiveness.
If anyone has hurt me, knowingly or unknowingly in thought, word or deed, I extend my forgiveness.
One loving-kindness mantra that I like, that is similar to the above Buddhist prayer but shorter, is:
May all beings be peaceful
May all beings be happy
May all beings be safe
May all beings awaken to the light
Of their true nature
May all beings be free
How to practice the metta prayer and loving kindness mantras
Mantras, like the ones below, are most often repeated about three times each. One effective way to practice loving-kindness mantras is to visualize one person (for example) in your mind and really direct your intention to that person. Repeat your blessings (or mantras) to that person three times and then release the person from your thoughts in peace.
The metta prayer script, like the one above, is a bit different in that it's not a short mantra. So although you could recite it three times, one time per sitting is a powerful way to share your blessing.
“May you live with ease, may you be happy, may you be free from pain.”
“Just as I wish to, may you also live with ease and happiness.”
‘Just as I wish to, may you live with ease, happiness, and good health.’
Online meditation classes
There are some phenomenal online guided meditation and sound baths to join on some of our favorite online yoga studios. Yoga International and Alo Moves both have excellent online meditation classes worth exploring.
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FAQ about the metta prayer
What is the mantra for loving-kindness?
There are many variations of the mantra for loving-kindness, this is one of them, “May you be happy, healthy, safe and live with ease.”
What is the Buddhist mantra for happiness?
Om Mani Padme Hum. Known as the Compassion Mantra, or the Jewel in the Lotus.
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