Loving Kindness Meditation – The Benefits of Benevolence

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Loving Kindness (Mettā) is one of the most powerful meditation subjects. The Buddha himself expressed goodwill as follows: “Whatever living beings there may be; Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none, the great or the mighty, medium, short or small, the seen and the unseen, those living near and far away, those born and to-be-born — May all beings be at ease!”

The Buddha, Karaniya Metta Sutta (Sn 1.8)

What is Loving Kindness?

Loving kindness, goodwill or benevolence manifests as the sincere wish for oneself and others to experience true happiness, a type of wellbeing not relying on circumstances. Furthermore, it is firmly rooted in acceptance. Mettā, as it’s called in the ancient Pali language, supports and enhances our meditation practice on many levels.

The nature of this practice revolves around the creation of wholesome and constructive personality traits. Motivated by goodwill, the practitioner works on becoming a source of happiness and wellbeing both to oneself and indirectly to others. Hence, it is a fundamental aspect of the spiritual path. Cultivating a benevolent attitude is an inspiring and meaningful way to spend our relatively short time here on this earth.

A person with a kind heart experiences a special sort of joyful comfort. It is quite different from the relatively well-known forms of happiness that come with short-term sense-gratification. It’s a profound experience that feels pure and innocent, perhaps because it’s based on giving rather than on taking. Just like compassion, true kindness is dependent on a practical understanding of suffering and its cessation.

How to Meditate on Loving Kindness?

Generating Mettā or goodwill is something that’s quite easy once you let go of the idea that you have to ‘know everything’ about it before you can practice it. Real knowledge must be based on experience. Experience comes from continuous and consistent practice. In the next paragraph I will introduce you to a simple technique. Try to slowly feel your way into this approach and give it time.

A simple Kindness Meditation for Beginners:

1. Sit in a comfortable and upright posture, gently stretch your spine. After that, take a few minutes to pay attention to the flow of breath-energy within your body. This will help you to arrive in the present moment where body and mind can settle down.

2. Now think of a good friend, someone you like. Visualize him sitting in front of you. In addition, feel the presence of him as if he is right there with you. By the way, if you find the mind is too distracted you should probably spend more time with the first step.

3. Once you are somewhat settled within the visualized situation, wish your friend to be happy and well. Use your own words if you like. Notice how it makes you feel to express this wish with clarity and intention.

4. Furthermore, you can expand the feeling of kindness in the form of white light. Let it emanate from your heart and send it to your friend.

Extend the Practice

You could extend this approach by sending kindness to yourself first. However, many people express difficulties with accepting themselves. That’s why I recommend starting with a good friend in order to get a sense of how it feels like. Once you get better, extend Mettā to yourself. Then proceed by sending kindness to a stranger. After that, send it to someone you don’t like or a person who has harmed you. Finally, extend goodwill in all directions and radiate it to all living beings. This will make your kindness immeasurable, unconditional and boundless.

Now here’s what’s really important: You’ve got to stick to this and make it work. Changing techniques and looking for “something that works” is going to steal a lot of your valuable time. Stay with this approach and see how you can fill it with life while diving deeper into it. This is one of the secrets to success with almost any technique – you learn and adjust as you go along.

The Benefits of Loving Kindness Meditation

There are many benefits of loving kindness meditation. Kindness promotes good health, radiance and meaningful relationships. It succesfully counteracts anger issues, depression and anxiety as well as sleeping disorders and lack of self-respect. As kindness is rooted in acceptance it gives all of us the permission to be who we are. Therefore I also refer to it as a “liberating power”.

The Buddha himself lists several interesting benefits: “A man sleeps in comfort; wakes in comfort; dreams no evil dreams; is dear to human beings and non-human beings; the gods guard him; no fire or poison or weapon harms him; his mind can be quickly concentrated; the expression of his face is serene; he dies without falling into confusion; and, even if he fails to penetrate any further, he will pass on to the world of High Divinity, to the Brahma world.” (AN, 11:16)

Mettā fuels the path toward profound peace and true happiness. To advance in our spiritual practice and delve into the realms of deep Meditation it is necessary to be happy and at ease with ourselves. Furthermore, the profound sense of happiness this practice generates acts as protection and guiding light on the way. Even within the external world it has the power to effectively protect our communities against the forces of malevolence and darkness.

How to Progress

In my experience there is no real progress if we are not cultivating an open heart. As we get better with this practice and our heart becomes more spacious it will eventually be able to accommodate even those who express nothing but darkness. People who are shaped and posessed by pain need kindness the most. Consequently, the Buddha said in the Dhammapada (Dhp I): “Hostilities aren’t stilled through hostility, regardless. Hostilities are stilled through non-hostility: this, an unending truth.”

Remember that kindness is not weakness. That is to say, confronting even the greatest evil with kindness is actually true strength.  Addressing hate and darkness with fear and ignorance is like nourishing a fire with gasoline. Throughout the ages this principle has been shown to work repeatedly.

A Suggestion for Daily Training

Imagine you start every day with the strong motivation to focus on growing a kind heart. When the sun rises (or whenever you get out of bed), set the firm intention of cultivating kindness whenever you interact with others. Consequently, you will start to remember your intention throughout the day. As you go to bed at night, recapitulate your day. It’s best to write it down. For instance, you could try our free 21 day challenge as it shows your commitment to practice and progress. It is certainly very motivating to see how you are getting better everyday.

In the spirit of this article I wish you all the very best and much success with this beautiful practice. In other words, may you find peace; May you be truly happy and look after yourself with ease.

Tobi Warzinek

About The Author

Tobi Warzinek has been working as a spiritual guide and mentor since 2009. His journey started in early 2002 when he entered the Tibetan Buddhist monastery of Rabten Choeling. He spent approximately 7 years in the community and studied the Tibetan language, mind-training and various meditation methods. Additionally he trained in traditional monastic debate and Buddhist philosophy. In 2011 he subsequently began practicing within the “Forest Tradition” in Thailand. Altogether he has dedicated his life to the exploration and refinement of introspection throughout the past 18 years. You can connect with Tobi on his page or on facebook.

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12 thoughts on “Loving Kindness Meditation – The Benefits of Benevolence”

  1. I am disappointed in your abbreviated metta meditation (or as you are referring to it, “loving kindness meditation”). The best part of metta is branching out from just sending love to someone you admire. I understand that you label it a “beginning meditation”, but you don’t even give an option to expand it later. Sending love to someone you admire is so easy most of us do it without needing to sit and focus on it. It’s sending love to a neutral person, and eventually to a difficult person, that is the really transformative core of loving-kindness meditation. Just doing a benefactor or even friend isn’t enough to really awaken the joyous love in your heart — but moving on to a stranger or an ‘enemy’ always makes my heart explode with compassion, transmuting my view of the world.

    Reply
    • Hi Miranda,
      First of all many thanks for your great comment. It’s been long while since there has been a really constructive message here between all the spam we usually tend to get 🙂 Please forgive me for leaving you with feelings of disappointment – that was certainly not what I had in mind when I wrote this blog. My idea was not really to cover the entirety of the vast subject of loving kindness right away but to start of with one aspect that everyone might easily be able to do. At the retreats we get a lot of people that struggle with this aspect actually – it’s surprising. Some even have trouble finding anyone that’s close to them or that they really like. I personally don’t struggle with it but I remember that I once struggled with this practice too. With that in mind I was trying to make it very simple and build upon that with more articles later that will also cover more facets of the practice. I have learned to take rather small steps, accomplish depth in training them and then transfer the insight up onto a higher level. We have many readers and I sure hope that this article isn’t disappointing too many people. I hope it will also be useful to some who are tapping into this whole concept for the first time. So once again – this is one article and more will follow soon. I wish you a wonderful day and thanks once again for your constructive comment.
      Warm regards,
      Tobi

      Reply
    • Are you to deciding for others what is the most valuable stage of learning?
      Could it be that one individual will place greater emphasis on the beginning stages of such a journey, rather than elsewhere?
      What is right for you is not always a reliable indicator of what is right for another.
      Many would not understand the value of sending love to another in the form of mere thought. It is quite clear from the state of this world that many would consider this process a complete waste of energy. Yet the value of more people learning this basic process, is clear to us.

      Reply
  2. I love your blog, the thing that interest me is the point you made where we should wake up and take some time to remember our dreams, i use to forget easily so i found writing it down immediately really helps me. thank you for sharing this awesome article, i a reading the rest of your blog now.

    Reply
  3. I really like loving kindness-meditation. I think it gives us true happiness. Sure enough after doing this mediation everyone feels peaceful. It is helpful to reduce stress ,depression ,loneliness ,anger ,fear and gives us happiness, creativity, and positive thought. In my opinion doing this meditation we can improve our daily life.

    Reply
  4. Thank you for these wonderful articles about Meditation! It’s always nice to see the science behind all types of Meditation. And Science already proved these Benefits of Loving Kindness you mentioned in this article. Big thanks.

    Reply
  5. I love this article. It’s different to all the others. It’s peaceful. I think that the hardest for many, as you point out, is not the difficult person, as might be expected, but the self. It’s so sad that wishing ourselves goodwill can bring up so many distressing feelings.

    Reply
  6. I wonder why you don´t start with loving kindness towards oneself. I was always taught that way, and makes perfect sense to me. And from there, do the same with a good friend as you state in the article.

    I love that “Lama Surya Das” left a comment here 😉

    Metta

    Reply
    • Dear Niki,
      Thank you for the comment! Yes, there are many ways to cultivate kindness. I agree that it’s good to cultivate it for oneself first. I also found that many have great difficulties with this approach and find it easier starting with someone else first… As I said – many ways 🙂

      Reply

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