One of the most important teachings of the Buddha was one called metta, a Pali word for loving kindness.
Like most people, I find myself often getting snappish and impatient with other people, and wish that I could just be kinder, more tolerant and more constructive when dealing with others. But it is not always easy, is it? The Buddha knew that we are all human, and we are all flawed. This is why he taught that meditating on loving kindness can help us be the better people that we strive to become.
One translation of the Buddha teachings on loving kindness reads, in part, as follows:
"This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who seeks the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech.
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied.
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature
Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings."
By performing a loving kindness guided meditation, you will be giving yourself an opportunity for calm, clarity and insight. The two to three minutes that the guided meditation lasts will open the door to further reflection on and understanding of the concept of loving kindness.
Here is a guided meditation on loving kindness
1) Sit in a comfortable position, with your posture erect. Feel your entire body sitting, with your spine open, your upper body open, your chest open and your chin tucked down. Feel your breathing in the diaphragm and midsection. Allow yourself to become calm and peaceful, worrying about nothing. Breathe deeply, and feel how alive you are.
2) Now think of an image or feeling, something calming and happy. If you like, you can remember a time when you were especially happy and go back to that place in your mind. On your out breath repeat silently with each breath: May I be happy. May my heart be open. May I be content with myself.
Repeat this at least three times, a phrase on each out breath. Focus fully on the meaning of the words, and do your nest to feel them deeply.
3) Now think of someone close to you, such as a family member or other loved one. On your out breath repeat silently, one phrase to a breath: May she be happy. Repeat three times. Then picture someone else that you care about and, on your out breath, repeat silently, one phrase to a breath: May he be happy, for three breaths.
4) Now imagine all of the wonderful friends that you have in your life friendship in your life. Imagine them sitting there with you, surrounding you. On your out breath, repeat silently: May they all be happy, for three breaths.
5) Now reach out and think of someone that you know that you do not feel deeply about. For instance, a co-worker, or a casual acquaintance. On your out breath send a prayer to them, too. Think: May she be happy. Repeat three times.
6) Now allow yourself to feel of loving kindness throughout your body, starting in your belly and your
chest and emanating outward throughout every cell of your body. Breathe with the feeling and imagine it growing stronger, turning into beams of light that shine out from your body and flowing out onto the rest of the Earth and humanity, without limits. On your out breath repeat silently, one phrase to a breath: May all these beings be happy. May their hearts be open. May they all be content with themselves. Repeat this at least three times, a phrase on each out breath.
7) Now return to yourself and, on your out breaths, repeat: May I be happy. May my heart be open. May I be content with myself. And let go of the meditation, allowing yourself to slowly come back to yourself. Slowly stretch your body and open your eyes.
When you regularly do a guided loving kindness meditation, you will find that you feel calmer, more positive, and more loving towards others. Be happy that you are helping to send positive energy out into the world and be assured that the world will reward you by sending more positive energy back your way.