Metta is the Pali word for Loving Kindness. It is also called Maitri in Sanskrit. It is a genuine altruistic love for oneself and all living beings, without exceptions.
The practice includes the concepts of:
* Friendliness (Metta / Maitri)
* Benevolence, appreciation, joy (mudita)
* Compassion (karuna)
* Equanimity (upekkha)
The practice is expansive in nature. We start with ourselves as a means of experiencing these personally. Next, we extend it to our loved ones, followed by neutral people / acquaintances. The fourth expansion is to someone with whom we are in somewhat of a difficult relationship with. And finally, we include all beings, human and non-human.
Some people may have a tough time starting with themselves. This is addressed by looking at oneself through the eyes of someone who loves us dearly. Eventually, we will come to understand that the practice is of developing the same genuine affection for oneself and others and use them interchangeably.
This specific way of practicing comes from Gautam Buddha's teachings, specifically from the Karaniya Metta Sutta. Karaniya is also a Pali word which means, "Ought to be done," or "duty, obligation." However, it is in no way unique to Buddhism. For instance, the four are mentioned in the Yogasutras by Patanjali as seen in 1.33, in the Tattvartha Sutra of Jainsim, chapter 7, verse 11 and n Sikhism, in the Ardas prayer.
The Bible has several references to how we are supposed to live out these principles, but especially highlighted in Romans 12 9:21. These verses are categorized as Love in Action.
This practice is suitable for people of all experience levels and belief systems.
Tips for practice:
* Be patient and consistent.
* Adopt a beginner's mind.
* Let go of perfection.
* Keep a journal.
* Find a community (welcome to ours!)
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