The Metta Bhavana is a meditation for developing loving kindness.
“Bhavana” means cultivation or development, and “Metta” is a word that means Positive emotion, love, friendliness, loving-kindness. So this is a meditation practice where we actively cultivate some very positive emotional states towards others, as well as to ourselves.
Stage 1, Cultivating loving-kindness towards ourselves:
Then become aware of your emotions, and do the first stage of the practice, by taking your awareness to your heart, accepting whatever emotions you find there, and then beginning to wish yourself well.
May I be happy and well.
May I look after myself, take care of myself.
May I be free from suffering.
May I progress, find my own path.
Stage 2, Cultivating love towards a friend, and wish them well:
May you be safe.
May you be healthy.
May you have ease of body and mind.
May you be at peace.
Stage 3, Cultivating metta towards a “neutral person”:
In this stage of the meditation practice we cultivate metta, or loving-kindness, towards someone we have no strong feelings towards. This person is not a friend, nor are we in conflict with them. We simply feel neutral towards them.
Stage 4, Cultivating metta towards a “difficult person”:
In this stage of the meditation we deliberately call to mind someone we are in a state of conflict with and we wish them well. This may be someone we are merely irritated with, or there may be a more deep-rooted conflict.
Stage 5, towards everyone:
Then in the last stage of the practice we spread our well-wishing in wider and wider circles.
Start with yourself, your friend, the neutral person, and the difficult person. See all four of you together, and wish all four people well. Then spread your well-wishing out in wider and wider circles, until you are wishing that all sentient beings are well and happy.
The Dalai Lama said, “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”