What is Lovingkindness?

Take a moment to reflect on what you most want for yourself and those you care about. Happiness? Peace? Health? We all want to be well, and Lovingkindness is a practice for wishing ourselves and others well. It is a simple way to direct our attention away from suffering-inducing thoughts and towards what we most want, and this tends to bring about a sense of inner peace and compassion for ourselves and all beings.


Lovingkindness is the English translation of the Pali word, Metta, so you may also hear this practice called Metta. Pali is the language of the earliest Buddhist texts.

Practicing Lovingkindness

In formal Lovingkindness meditation practice, start by directing kind attention to yourself, by silently saying to yourself:

May I be happy.

May I be safe.

May I be healthy.

May I live with ease.

Then, imagine in your mind's eye someone who is easy for you to love, and say silently to yourself:

May s/he be happy.

May s/he be safe.

May s/he be healthy.

May s/he live with ease.

Next, bring to mind someone who is challenging for you to love, and repeat the above phrases (That can be a hard one--go easy on yourself!). Finally, expand your well wishes to all beings: those you like, those you don't like, those you are indifferent to, all beings known and unknown:

May all beings be happy.

May all beings be safe.

May all beings be healthy.

May all beings live with ease.

Since it is often easier to wish others well and harder to wish ourselves well, try sticking with yourself for a little longer than feels comfortable. This practice can be used more informally and casually, such as when you are reading the news, walking down the street, or waiting in line. Next time you're suffering, no matter how major or minor the difficulty, ask yourself this question by Diane Mariechild, a Buddhist teacher and author:

"Am I relating with lovingkindness to this unfolding process of life?"

If the answer is no, offer yourself some lovingkindness:

May I be happy.

May I be safe.

May I be healthy.

May I live with ease.

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