How to actually 'do' metta?

Robin Woods, modified 8 Years ago.

How to actually 'do' metta?

Posts: 164 Join Date: 5/28/12 Recent Posts
I (think) I recently got stream entry, but have mental health issues so am wary of making more progress in insight at the moment. I've been advised to do metta practice but am unsure as to how it really works?

Do you just sit in the dark and recite a script (may I be happy and loved, may I be safe and healthy etc) and then gradually as one becomes more concentrated(?) it will start to work. Would you need to be in a jhana for it to 'work'? Or is it done from kinda access concentration territory?

When I was in review phase and my mind was much more powerful at meditating I kinda felt I got it for a few moments (just focussing on the concept of 'love') but this doesn't seem to work anymore. Does it just take practice?

Is one supposed to repeat one's phrase when wandering around in the world?

Thanks!
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Dannon F, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: How to actually 'do' metta?

Posts: 40 Join Date: 1/6/13 Recent Posts
It is the intention that counts. Say it like you mean it. Feel the truth of it. Feel that part of you that it applies to. Just repeating a formula is of minimal help, better than nothing, but minimally. The point is to feel it no matter what state you are in. Does this sound right?

You saying it doesn't make it "work". You feeling it as you say it is it "working". Your heart does the work, the prayer doesn't. The prayer is said as instructions for your heart. Say it, let the heart embody it. Does this sound true?
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The Xzanth, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: How to actually 'do' metta?

Posts: 71 Join Date: 12/28/12 Recent Posts
I've never been taught how to do it so I am curious about other people's practices too.

I just imagine at first, one by one, people whom I have hurt, have hurt me, that I don't like or don't like me and I beam unconditional love at them. I imagine them shiny and happy just as they are. Then I cycle through the people in my life, whoever pops into my mind (I try to include myself here). Finally I imagine the planet Earth (and objects in orbit) projecting love at it and all the beings who live upon it.
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Pablo . P, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: How to actually 'do' metta?

Posts: 378 Join Date: 3/21/12 Recent Posts
I like very much Ron Crouch's instructions link.
Ona Kiser, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: How to actually 'do' metta?

Posts: 66 Join Date: 1/18/10 Recent Posts
Like most practices "fake it til you make it" works well.

I was taught to start with feeling loving kindness for people one actually does like, spend some time on that. Then move on to neutral people (a store clerk, a neighbor you don't know, people you don't have any feelings for or against). Then lastly move on to difficult people, and perhaps not to do VERY difficult people until you have the practice more solid, as that is hard to do. Then end with an intention that all beings be safe, happy and loved.

Then let the practice do the work - that is, the intention and attempt is enough. You don't have to reach a special state or have a special feeling or succeed in feeling metta for unpleasant people, for instance. But try. And in time you'll find it strengthens and grows.

It also helps you become more aware of aversion/attachment where you might not have noticed it before. You can use it in an abbreviated way during the day, if you pass someone and think to yourself "what a fat bitch", you can recall your metta practice and remind yourself "may she be loved, may she be safe, may she be happy". Or if you have a harsh thought towards yourself ("I suck!") you can remind yourself and repeat the phrase for yourself.
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Shashank Dixit, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: How to actually 'do' metta?

Posts: 282 Join Date: 9/11/10 Recent Posts
Well said Ona Kiser..agreed with all points. Just want to add one more - I've found that beginning with metta
for oneself is very important. Something like "May I be *truly* happy and free from suffering"
Ona Kiser, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: How to actually 'do' metta?

Posts: 66 Join Date: 1/18/10 Recent Posts
Shashank Dixit:
Well said Ona Kiser..agreed with all points. Just want to add one more - I've found that beginning with metta
for oneself is very important. Something like "May I be *truly* happy and free from suffering"


Yes, thanks for the correction. I didn't reiterate that in my reply above.
Mike Howard, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: How to actually 'do' metta?

Posts: 72 Join Date: 1/4/13 Recent Posts
Mahasi Sayadaw wrote a book on the brahmaviharas (sorry if my spelling is wrong), and metta is also addressed i believe in the Vissudhimagga. I'd suggest looking around through google for both the venerable's book and also the vissudhimagga, as they are free resources online.

These traditional sources have a fairly set way, or order, of people you wish metta towards. Start with yourself, then a respected person, then a neutral person, then a difficult person, then all beings, etc . . .

Mahasi says that you repeat the phrases all day, but I would read that statement as being in a retreat setting. It is possible to repeat the phrases when on the bus or walking somewhere, but basically impossible when speaking to someone or doing mental work, in my experience.

Personally, I find it helpful following these set instructions for metta, and I have a predetermined list of who i wish metta towards. That way, I am not breaking up concentration wondering who to pick next, in the middle of a sitting.

Best wishes to the OP for their metta practice. I find metta very concentrative and also transformative, including in my day to day life. At first, it might feel like you are just saying the phrases, but it builds over time. I would also look up 'the metta sutta' on a page like access to insight. You can support your metta practice by reading/reciting this sutta.

I am not an expert but I hope these pointers help.
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Martin Sokolski, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: How to actually 'do' metta?

Posts: 21 Join Date: 10/20/12 Recent Posts
There are some excellent instructions on metta and the brahma viharas here, written by Tejananda (John Wakeman). He posted a link to them a while ago in this post.
Jack Hatfield, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: How to actually 'do' metta?

Posts: 99 Join Date: 7/5/10 Recent Posts
You have to use the words to point toward and connect with the feeling of loving kindness. Every time you lose that feeling, go back to the feeling you had toward the original person toward whom you have an uncomplicated loving kindness feeling, connect with the feeling of loving kindness and then bring it forward. Just words is useless.

If the phrase loving kindness doesn't feel right to use, try the word kindness. You can also use a pet as the original object. Or, not use a specific object but imagine holding a newborn baby, or kitten or whatever.

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