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Metta -practice tips - Dhamma Wheel

Metta -practice tips

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
rowyourboat
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Metta -practice tips

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:47 pm

Hello All,

I am looking for tips on developing metta/loving-kindness. What helped you to develop it? What really worked - what didn't work? Any good links to articles, books or dhamma talks would be appreciated. Please share your insights into it.

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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retrofuturist
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Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jun 01, 2011 11:00 pm

Greetings,

Here are some things that I have used recently to assist in the cultivation of metta...

- Listening to chanting of the Metta Sutta - I prefer an English translation on "repeat" on my MP3 player. I ensure I fix my mind on what is being chanted. If I notice my attention wandered, sometimes I will rewind the sutta chant back to the start of the track and endeavour to concentrate better.

- Reading Mahasi Sayadaw's "Brahmavihara Dhamma"... whilst I'm not overly enthusiastic over his treatment of the 3 remaining brahma-vihara, his account on metta cultivation is good. (Likewise actually with the Visuddhimagga, now that I think about it). It's available free online @ Buddhanet.

- Bringing mindful attention to the intention/resolution that metta-bhavana is indeed an active component of your practice. If it's just a token gesture without sufficient commitment, there will be insufficient mindfulness (i.e. failure to develop a positive habit) to actually engage in the practice.

- Make it a Dhammic frame of reference more often. In the past I was more inclined to think and frame situations in terms of the 4NT, three characteristics, sankhara etc. I find that if this is not complemented with wholesome mindstates (which include metta) then it can actually be quite bleak and depressing. It's not much fun having moderate insight into the unsatisfactoriness of all dhammas if one does not have the means (incl. time, energy, wisdom) to attain stream-entry.

- Recognising that metta assists in calming and purifying the mind, so if/when you do engage in vipassana-oriented meditation, it serves as a useful prelude (either immediately before, or in the preceding days).

- Sometimes just smile and see if the mental catches up to the physical... interestingly it does.

They're the main things that come to mind at the moment. Note though that the common theme as that there is not strong emphasis on "sitting"... it is primarily about integration of metta into daily activities and interactions. It's a complement to the spiritual path and it's a complement to life.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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cooran
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Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby cooran » Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:37 am

Hello RYB,

When you are practising metta, it can all become rather like a parrot repeating a formulae. One thing I've found helpful, after reading all the articles, suttas, books etc., is, in my daily practice to 'raise the feeling' before radiating metta. To do this, I have to be careful not to fall into the trap of raising the 'near enemy' of metta which is 'pity' - as this is merely a form of aversion.

What works for me, is to think of a cute animal or baby and when a feeling of lovingkindness comes over me, of then immediately switching to my own list and manner of going through those to whom I wish to radiate metta.

I found Ajahn Sugato's audio talks very helpful - he points out that westerners often have unrecognised 'self-hate' and often need to radiate metta to themselves for many weeks before expanding the practice to include others.

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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beeblebrox
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Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Jun 02, 2011 3:13 pm


rowyourboat
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Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:44 am

Hi Retro, Chris,

Important, these things you have mentioned. I must reiterate the importance of giving rise to metta when you see someone- making it an element in your day to day mindfulness, that is.

I found it helpful NOT to go for all encompassing metta, but keep it 'close to the chest' as it were and develop it just a bit from that point onwards- it felt more simple and real. This, while in sitting meditation that is.

I think it was also useful to find what metta I already have in my interactions with other people, and just expand on that. It seems to make sense to develop what qualities we already have 'written into the system' (ie they already have their triggers etc) and work with it using a bit of mindfulness. By qualities we already have, I mean things like friendliness and openness.

One monk suggested positivity as a precursor to metta. The would counteract subtle aversions which would get in the way of metta arising.

I also find generally working on my issues/ defilements and having good samadhi and sati are really helpful to let metta shine through.

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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cooran
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Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby cooran » Fri Jun 03, 2011 12:18 pm

Hello beetlebrox,

You are correct in pointing out an error in my post – a result of posting in haste. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. :smile:

Four Brahma-viharas (Highest Attitudes/Emotions)
Heavenly or sublime abodes (best home). Near enemy is a quality that can masquerade as the original, but is not the original. Far enemy is the opposite quality.
1. Lovingkindness, good-will (metta): Near enemy – attachment; far enemy – hatred
2. Compassion (karuna): Near enemy – pity; far enemy – cruelty
3. Sympathetic joy, Appreciation (mudita), joy at the good fortune of others: Near enemy – comparison,hypocrisy, insincerity, joy for others but tinged with identification (my team, my child); far enemy – envy
4. Equanimity (upekkha): Near enemy – indifference; far enemy – anxiety, greed
http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/ ... mma-lists/

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

Jhana4
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Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby Jhana4 » Fri Jun 03, 2011 1:27 pm

I think the best tip I ever got was to be fine with just mechanically repeating the phrases. The feelings will kick in, it is just a matter of time.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby Jhana4 » Fri Jun 03, 2011 1:30 pm

One of the nice things about metta bhavanna is that you can practice it while doing other things and still get results.

I first got exposed to metta bhavanna in college. I couldn't afford a car at the time. I practiced repeating the phrases on my 30 minute walk home from school and work everyday. By the time I reached my door, I could feel the emotions strongly.

I've also had results repeating the phrases while on the elliptical machine at the gym.

It is also a great if you are stuck in a waiting room, on a train or in a traffic jam.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Ytrog
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Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby Ytrog » Fri Jun 03, 2011 2:17 pm

I had a lot of difficulty with metta meditation in the past. Now I chant the "may I be happy" or "may ... be happy" before every meditation and it just works. I also noticed it arouses energy, so it might even work against sloth&torpor if you have problems with that.

rowyourboat
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Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:01 pm

Hi Ytrog,

I wonder what the mechanism for increasing energy is?

With metta
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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andre9999
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Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby andre9999 » Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:03 pm


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retrofuturist
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Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:17 pm

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

rowyourboat
Posts: 1952
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Jun 04, 2011 2:21 am

With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

rowyourboat
Posts: 1952
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:18 pm

The amazing mettasahagata sutta on the amazing dhammafarer website: :)

http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-con ... 4-piya.pdf

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

2600htz
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Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby 2600htz » Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:25 am

Hello:

One thing really helped me was sincerity applied to the radiation...to feel its really coming from your heart (i use to do it very mechanic and mental)
When i did this it became a very emotional practice..still i find weird how the heart seems to be related with emotions.

farmer
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Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby farmer » Tue Jun 14, 2011 2:53 am

Here are a few things that have worked for me. I'm not very experienced, so take them with a grain of salt.

On the cushion:

When my son was born, the nurses immediately handed him over to me and showed me how to bathe him with a cloth and warm water. Remembering the upwelling of tenderness I felt then is usually a good way to get metta flowing.

I combine that image with anapanasati to develop metta for myself: I imagine the breath like that wash cloth, cleansing and refreshing my own body and mind, each breath an act of compassion for myself. (This may only make sense in the context of the Ajahn Lee/ Ajahn Thanissaro approach to breath meditation)

Remembering that the physical and mental suffering I experience are a universal condition makes it easy to spread the goodwill from myself to those close to me, and outward to all beings. I have a body and mind, they have body and mind. The suffering is the same for everyone.

Being the recipient of metta makes it easier to feel metta yourself. I remember people like dhamma teachers who have shown kindness to me. I visualize all the meditators around the world who at that moment are sending out thoughts of good will, and imagine their wishes for my well being washing over me.

Here are a few off-the-cushion ideas:

Sila makes a difference. It is easier to develop metta if you are careful not to harm other creatures and if you are careful about avoiding hurtful speech.

Little acts of generosity throughout the day help train the heart. In the context of family life, this means simple stuff like taking on more domestic work than I absolutely have to.

Feelings of ill-will make it hard to generate metta. I've had to work against my old tendencies to hold on to resentments and grudges.

When I started practicing, I had a lot of work to do in my behavior and my relationships. As I have cleaned these areas up, metta practice has gotten easier.

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Adrien
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Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby Adrien » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:09 am

This has a lot of informations and tips about metta :
Please don't hesitate to correct my english if you feel to

rowyourboat
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Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Jun 14, 2011 12:16 pm

It seems (at least to me) is that one of the problems is that when we try to 'develop' metta, it becomes somewhat clinical. Joseph Goldstein said in one of his talks that the Buddha was able to stop a charging wild bull elephant (Nalagiri) with his metta because it was genuine, not contrived.

Now I understand what he means but I struggle with that because you got to practice it, especially if it doesn't come naturally to you. Sometimes just doing something in a repetitive superficial manner can be the trigger for something deeper to take hold and grow.

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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beeblebrox
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Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby beeblebrox » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:29 am

I like Farmer's post, it's great.

:anjali:

befriend
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Re: Metta -practice tips

Postby befriend » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:36 am

Ive started practicing metta with the instructions from an american buddhist monk, it is a very unique way of practicing metta because you concisouly relax any tension or tightness in the head and body which is caused by craving and it makes the mind bright and clear right when you do that, its mentioned in the suttas so thats where he teaches it from its not his invention. people have had experiences of entering jhana very quickly it wont take like months of practice, the website is dhammasukha.org.
nothing can destroy a man who has lived a pure life


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