It was on my first silent retreat that I learned about metta. Metta is a Pali word that translates to “lovingkindness” in English.
Since my introduction to lovingkindness practice 15 years ago, I have turned to it many times to help me through struggles both big and small.
This morning, I woke up seeking respite from the negativity and magnitude of the coronavirus. Needing distance from email and social mediaI, I chose to begin the day with devotional, prayer and meditation.
As I sat down on my meditation cushion, I opened up “Five Minutes of Peace – Daily Devotions” and found these words:
Genuine faith was never meant to be locked up inside our hearts — to the contrary, it is meant to be shared with the world.
Reading these words inspired me to devote my practice today to lovingkindness.
How I Practice
There are many ways to practice lovingkindness. For my personal practice, I choose to get still and become quiet. Stillness allows me to say the words silently to myself. Free from the normal distractions of daily life, I am able to hear the words as I say them. Silence gives me the space to feel the words and notice any emotions that come up with them. I am able to notice how willing or resistant my mind is to the practice. Noticing without judging brings me clarity and peace.
I learned these words from Sara Powers on my first Yin Yoga silent retreat. Throughout the years, I have seen many variations of the words, but Sara’s phrasing continues to speak to me:
May I be free from fear and harm.
May I be happy as I am.
May I be at peace with all that may come.
Sometimes I practice lovingkindness using all of the phrases together. Oftentimes, I choose one of the phrases and practice saying it over and over again to calm my mind and connect to my spirit. The more connected I become, the easier it is to let go of worry, fear and resistance.
In hopes to bring a glimmer of light to your life in these extraordinary times, I share Lovingkindness Meditation practice with you.
Five Minute Lovingkindness Meditation
Find a place where you can sit and be quiet. I have created a meditation space in my closet, by a window. Maybe you prefer somewhere outdoors? You can even park your car in a quiet place and take some time for this practice.
- First, put your phone on Airplane Mode; then, set a timer for five minutes on your phone.
- Choose one of the Lovingkindness phrases for your practice. Doing so will help your mind focus on your experience.
- Read the Lovingkindness phrase out loud three times. Notice how you feel as you read the words.
- Begin your timer.
- Close your eyes and become still.
- Say the Lovingkindness phrase three more times silently to yourself.
- See if you can feel the words as you say them.
- Remain quiet and notice what comes up after saying the words. Notice any thoughts, feelings, images, sounds or emotions that arise. Be quiet and observe the details.
- Chances are that your mind will wander into thinking or worrying at some point during the practice. When this happens, notice that your mind has wandered and say the phrase again silently to yourself.
- Bring your attention back to noticing thoughts, feelings, images, sounds or emotions that arise.
- Continue to repeat the cycle until your timer rings.