The Pali word “Metta” is commonly translated in English as loving-kindness. Metta signifies friendship and non-violence as well as “a strong wish for the happiness of others.”1 This feeling is difficult to describe with words, I can personally liken it to a mother’s love for her children or a teacher’s love for her students, but it goes beyond familiarity and extends to strangers as well. In the practice of Metta meditation, one recites specific phrases in order to evoke this heart opening feeling. It is important not to limit the practice to family, religion, social class, or culture. Metta is a tool that permits one’s generosity and kindness to be applied to all beings, no matter who the individual is. This practice, over time, allows you to release hatred and other poisonous feelings, and opens your heart to receive as well as give-essentially making the practitioner more lovable as well as more loving.
After months of practice, you may want to offer Metta to someone you find “challenging” or has harmed you in some way. This should only be undertaken if you feel you are ready. At first your mind will reject the offering, and it is just words without feeling. But over time, your heart will open, you will see the vulnerability in the other person, and feel some compassion, thus releasing you from the poisonous bonds of hatred, fear and resentment. This is the beautiful, liberating power of Metta!
With Much Metta, Genevieve Yellin