Loving kindness meditation is also known as maitri in Sanskrit, or metta in Pali. This classic Buddhist practice is thousands of years old. In maitri meditation, we send well wishes of loving kindness to one being in particular, or to all beings everywhere.
Because all beings everywhere are connected, and because the way in which we view our world is connected to our state of mind, the practice of sending out compassionate thoughts and developing our own capacity for kindness makes us feel better too.
How to Practice Maitri Meditation
There are several ways to structure a loving kindness meditation. Typically, we begin by sending out the following well wishes (variations of the four infinite thoughts) to a loved one.
- May you be happy and have all the causes of future happiness
- May you be free from your pain and suffering, and all causes of pain and suffering
- May you be intimately acquainted with a joy that’s devoid of all suffering
- May you live in a state of equanimity, free from unhealthy attachments or aversions
As we develop our capacity for sharing compassion with loved ones, we can work on sending these same thoughts to people who we barely know, or people whom we know and find challenging. We may offer the meditation to all beings everywhere.
Loving Kindness in Response to Covid-19
In the maitri meditation below, we specifically direct thoughts of loving kindness to those on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Healthcare workers
- Those who are ill with the virus or otherwise compromised and vulnerable
- All beings everywhere, including ourselves
Before we send out our well wishes, we first visualize an internal source of limitless love and compassion. We all have that source within us. It’s sometimes referred to as our Buddha nature, or our true nature. We can think of it as a vibrant white light, a holy spirit, or connection to a higher power.
How and Why Maitri Meditation Works
Meditation works on us at several different levels. By focusing on the task at hand, freeing ourselves from distraction, and occupying the mind with a visualization and positive thoughts, we experience greater calm and ease.
Because we are connected energetically to all beings everywhere, anything we do to help others helps us too. We get back what we give. This is a very brief nod to the concept of karma.
Because our view of the world is dictated by what’s going on in our minds, a mind that’s compassionate, actively kind, calm and at ease, sees more hope, loving kindness, and joy in the world.
May this Meditation be of Benefit to You and All Beings:
Notes on How to Meditate:
We suggest finding a quiet place to sit where you can be free from distractions. Use headphones with the meditation if you’d like.
Get comfortable propped up on cushions, or seated in a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
Follow along with the meditation, and then spend a few minutes sitting quietly at the end. Notice and listen to what arises without judgement.
Sara-Mai is a yoga and meditation instructor with Baja Surf Yoga. Do you have questions for her about meditation? Want to learn more? Connect with us in real life at a future workshop or pop-up event, or take the time to join us on retreat.