Ever heard a teacher mention Metta Bhavana? Thankfully although they’re strange words, they have a pretty straightforward meaning - put simply, Metta Bhavana is a practice of loving kindness. Metta means ‘love’ (in a non-romantic sense), friendliness, or kindness, Bhavana means development or cultivation. This is a meditation technique and spiritual exploration using visualisation. This might all sound a little confusing, but it’s actually easier than it seems! All we need to do is practice loving everyone and everything – easy breezy! Our Senior Teacher at Stretch Academy Miriam Van Doorn explains more:
While particular tools are available, Metta practice can also be creative, as it builds and deepens with personal exploration. Below are a few phrases commonly used in Metta meditation. As you sit, you repeat them silently to yourself:
- May you be happy
- May you be safe, from inner and outer harm
- May you be at ease in body and mind
- May you be joyful and free
- May you live peacefully
The practice is in five stages. We cultivate Metta for:
- A good friend
- A “neutral” person — someone we don’t have any strong feelings for
- A “difficult” person — someone we have conflicts with or feelings of ill will towards. (You may notice that there’s a progression in the stages. It’s easiest for us to cultivate loving-kindness for ourselves and for our friends. It’s a bit more difficult to do this for people we don’t know well. And it really goes against the grain to cultivate for someone we’re in conflict with.)
- Lastly, we cultivate loving-kindness for everyone in the world: i.e. all friends, people we don’t know, and people we’re in conflict with — plus ourselves of course. All sentient beings (ambitious, huh!)
Practice in stages, perhaps one at the time for a while before moving on to the others. Use heart centered breathing as you work through these stages and reflect on how each stage makes you feel. Some days will feel easy and some days hard – this is why we call it a practice!
Interested in learning more about meditation and yogic philosophy? Why not check out our new Yogic Philosophy Course starting in January 2019.