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Metta: The Practice of Compassion

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Many of us encounter moments in life where forgiveness feels impossible. We might hold onto contempt or resentment towards someone, struggling to understand their actions and wondering, “Why are they this way?” These feelings can leave us feeling blocked, and incapable of extending kindness or love. Maybe it’s a partner resistant to change, or someone from the past who deeply hurt you – whoever it is, opening your heart to them, let alone forgiving them, seems impossible.


If this resonates with you, know that you’re not alone. Centuries ago, the Buddha introduced a core Buddhist concept called metta, which translates to “unconditional loving-kindness.” In essence, metta is about cultivating kindness towards oneself and all living beings.


This practice extends kindness and compassion even to those we find difficult, dislike, or even hate. It’s about moving beyond negative emotions and actively wishing well-being of others, even if they haven’t earned it in our eyes. Metta offers a path to break free from the cycle of negativity and cultivate a more peaceful and compassionate way of being.

What is the Metta Practice?

The Metta practice involves cultivating kindness and compassion, both for yourself and others, mindfully and intentionally. It builds upon mindfulness, where you learn to accept the present moment without judgment. Through Metta, you extend this acceptance to others, even those you find difficult.

This unconditional acceptance isn’t always easy. However, by embodying compassion through Metta, you begin to recognize that everyone, like yourself, experiences suffering. This realization can be a powerful tool for breaking free from negativity and fostering a more peaceful and understanding way of being.

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Getting Started with Metta

The beauty of Metta lies in its simplicity. You can begin your practice with a guided Metta meditation by Sadia Saeed, founder of Inner Space.

By cultivating kindness and compassion, not just towards others but also towards ourselves (often referred to as self-compassion), Metta allows us to move beyond blame and victimhood. It’s a recognition that everyone experiences suffering, ourselves included. This understanding fosters a sense of empathy and allows us to extend kindness even to those who have caused us pain. After all, as the saying goes, we can’t pour from an empty cup. To offer kindness to others, we must first learn to be kind to ourselves.

What Are The Benefits of The Metta Practice?

There are numerous benefits of doing a daily metta practice. You can feel the benefits of this practice on a both personal and interpersonal level. Here is a breakdown of some of the main benefits:

Increased self-compassion: By directing loving-kindness towards yourself, you can cultivate a more positive and accepting self-image, reducing self-criticism and negativity.

Reduced stress and anxiety: Metta meditation promotes feelings of peace and goodwill, which can help counteract feelings of stress and anxiety.

Improved emotional well-being: By fostering positive emotions like joy, gratitude, and love, metta meditation can contribute to a more positive outlook and emotional state.

Better social connections: As you develop loving-kindness towards others, it becomes easier to build empathy and compassion, leading to more positive and supportive relationships.

Improved sleep: The calming and stress-reducing effects of metta meditation can contribute to better sleep quality.

Life throws curveballs, and sometimes those curveballs leave us feeling hurt and misunderstood. The ancient practice of Metta offers a powerful tool to navigate these challenges and cultivate inner peace and connection with ourselves and others.  

Imagine a world where we approach life’s difficulties with unconditional kindness, not just for others but for ourselves too. Metta helps us break free from negativity and embrace compassion. It allows us to see the shared human experience of suffering, fostering empathy and understanding even in the toughest situations. 

Metta reminds us that true well-being starts with self-compassion. By being kind to ourselves first, we can extend that kindness outward, building stronger relationships and creating a more hopeful and harmonious world. It’s not always easy, but Metta paves the way with loving-kindness, one step at a time.

Still curious to know more about compassion and how to bring the essence of Metta into your life? Watch this video on Compassion by Sadia Saeed.

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