Meditation for everyone.
Metta meditation is a method of practice, Buddhist in origin, that focuses the mind on repetitive phrases aimed at contemplating and creating compassion.
"May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be filled with and surrounded by loving-kindness.
May you be free."
"Metta" is often translated as "loving-kindness," a hybrid of abiding presence and a kind heart. To engage in this practice you find your position - seated, supine,walking, focus the mind on the breath, and begin to repeat the phrases out loud or silently.
The first round (a matter of repetitions or minutes) replaces the "you" above with the name of an uncontroversially good person: the Dalai Lama, Jesus, Mother Teresa or the like. Someone it's easy to wish good for.
The next round you move to focusing on a neutral to good person: the mail carrier, a cashier or even just some kindly seeming person you passed on the sidewalk.
Then you move to someone more difficult: you can pick someone you just don't have warm fuzzies for or someone truly challenging for you.
Then you move to the hardest of all: yourself.
"May I be safe.
May I be happy.
May I be filled with and surrounded by loving-kindness.
May I be free."
Then you conclude by moving back to your easy person.
I was practicing with the phrases the other day. When I moved to making myself the object, the phrases that seemed so declarative, so clearly surrounded their object with positivity and grace... suddenly turned into questions. "I don't know, may I? Dare I? Can I?"
And so I returned my attention to the phrases and my breath. I made the questions coming up the object of curiosity and continued with the phrases, with my breath.
The questions broke open something that had long been scared, feeling judged and unworthy. The focus on the phrases and my breath brought equanimity, and with it courage. To dare.