An Introduction to Metta Meditation

Mala and Mantra founder Judith Compton has long been a fan and practitioner of metta meditation. That’s why it serves as the inspiration for our newest Crafted for a Cause collection: Metta Mala. (Check out this blog post to learn more about the collection.)

So what exactly is metta meditation? Also known as loving-kindness meditation, this type of meditation is all about cultivating compassion for ourselves and others. Metta is a Pali word that translates to “benevolence,” “friendliness,” “amity,” “goodwill” and of course “loving-kindness.” It is the first of the four sublime states in the Theravada school of Buddhism, and this cultivation of love, compassion and kindness to others is a common form of meditation practiced in Buddhism.


At its most basic, metta meditation is the simple practice of sending well-wishes toward yourself and other people. It asks you to first develop love and compassion for yourself—as you must love yourself in order to share that love with others—then to spread those benevolent feelings toward those you love, those who have done you wrong and, eventually, all sentient beings and humanity. 

To practice loving-kindness meditation, start by sitting comfortably with your eyes closed. Imagine a few things you most want for yourself, whether it be happiness, health, security, peace or something else all together. Turn these into phrases or mantras. Our favorite metta mantra, for example, is:

May I be safe.
May I be happy. 
May I be well.
May I live life with ease.

Once you’ve determined your metta mantra, begin meditating and repeating these phrases and directing them toward yourself. Once you’ve felt the message begin to sink in, you’ll then direct this mantra toward someone you love dearly, feel grateful for or who has helped you in some way. Repeat the mantra several times:

May she be safe.
May she be happy. 
May she be well.
May she live life with ease.

Next, imagine someone you feel neutral about—someone you feel neither negatively nor positively about—then direct the phrases toward this person:

May he be safe.
May he be happy. 
May he be well.
May he live life with ease.


After repeating your mantra toward this person a few times, you’ll then envision someone who you have negative feelings toward. It might be someone you’re feeling angry at in the moment; maybe it is someone who has wronged you in the past; maybe it’s the sister who provides challenges at every turn. Once you have the person in mind, repeat your mantra, directing these feelings of love and compassion toward that person:

May she be safe.
May she be happy. 
May she be well.
May she live life with ease.

Finally, direct your well wishes toward all of humanity—every sentient being that inhabits this earth. Repeat your mantra:

May all beings be safe.
May all beings be happy. 
May all beings be well.
May all beings live life with ease.

Sit with the warm feelings of love, kindness and compassion for a few more moments, then slowly open your eyes and conclude your meditation. Come back to these phrases throughout the day when you need a little more self-love or feelings of compassion toward others. And feel free to change the people you direct your well wishes to each session. 

We hope your metta meditation practice helps you cultivate deep and lasting feelings of love and kindness toward yourself, the ones you love, those who have wronged you and all of humanity. This practice is just one easy way to develop love for yourself and others and make the world a better place.

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