Ok, something that has worked from a relatively inexperienced practitioner...
I have tried the phrases mentally / verbally wishing myself and others goodwill, happiness etc. But it usually feels a bit hollow to me. Each to their own, however, so if this works for others, i'm pleased for them, but I really struggle with this method.
I actually just use metta in the context of anapanasati instead. By 'using' it to overcome the hindrance of ill-will, I avoid getting too self-conscious about it. It becomes just 'doing the needful'. An example: There is boredom as regards the meditation object (the breath). And so the mind becomes averse, and wishes it were someplace else. This
is where i find a quiet affirmation useful, gently spoken in the mind, to the breath: "I accept you as you are. You don't have to please me. Just be what you are; I will just watch".
If the mind has been even somewhat calmed already, this can work like 'autosuggestion', and the small but wholesome thought, directed to the centre of one's awareness (the breath), can seem to expand outwards. This conscious letting go of wanting things to be any different, this acceptance of how it is right now ('there is a breath, just that') - can seem to usher in a feeling of love that can pervade the whole body. (It doesn't always happen like this, of course. We can not get this by grasping for it.) But at the very least I've found that the mind calms down a bit, and accepts that 'right now, this breath is enough'. Acceptance
is one aspect of love
, I feel.
So maybe anapanasati can be used a a link to metta? Just some ideas.