"Buddhism is a religion of the heart.
Only this. One who practises to develop
the heart is one who practices Buddhism"

Ajahn Chah


GUIDED METTA MEDITATION

This meditation could be used in a group, with one person reading the instructions slowly and quietly. A series of dots at the end of a paragraph (. . . .) indicate a brief period of silence before continuing with the next instruction. It is suggested that the meditation take approximately half an hour.

This will be a meditation on loving-kindness. It will incorporate a simple visualisation using a faculty of mind that we use quite routinely. For instance, if I suggest bringing to mind the image of a flower, we can do that. It doesnít matter if itís a rose or a lily, or what colour it is, or even how clear that mental image is something fleeting is adequate.

Now sitting upright, notice if thereís any tension in the face. Relaxing around the eyes, around the jaw and mouth. Let the attention come down to the heart area an area in the middle of the chest, around the sternum, the breastbone. We breathe in, experiencing the breath energy. Itís almost as if itís possible to breathe in and out from that area in the middle of the chest. Now as we breathe in, saying to ourselves: MAY I BE WELL wishing ourselves well, let there be a sense of well-being, a subtle gesture of mercy directed towards ourselves. Let the past be; letting it go: and for this moment in time, just keep letting the mind come to the breath, and the heart, and the thought, in an harmonious whole. Breathing in: MAY I BE WELL. . . . . .

and then breathing out, directing that same merciful energy outwards, saying: MAY OTHERS BE WELL.

Continue letting a simple rhythm develop Breathe in: MAY I BE WELL, breathe out: MAY OTHERS BE WELL. . . . . .

If the mind has wandered off, gently, with great patience, bring the attention back. Itís a soft movement, coming back to the heart, to the breath, to the thought breathing in: MAY I BE WELL, breathing out through the heart: MAY OTHERS BE WELL. . . . . .

What we are doing is beginning to attune ourselves to that which is loving and compassionate in the universe. Opening up to that caring energy and allowing it to energise us, nourish us, using the breath and the thought as a channel, as a vehicle for that energy. Breathing in: MAY I BE WELL. And then channel that energy out to others: MAY OTHERS BE WELL. . . . . .

Keeping the breath soft and steady, letting the breath energy nourish us; breathing in to the heart, breathing out through the heart. . . . . .

Opening up to that which is compassionate in the universe. Breathing in, letting the heart become more sensitive and receptive to that energy. Breathing out, the heart becoming more open and expansive, giving out: MAY OTHERS BE WELL. . . . . .

And when we are ready. . . . . .

take a slow, deep breath into the heart, letting the thought and breath energy fill us. Holding it for a while keeping it comfortable. Allowing the thought to deepen that sense of well-being. Letting it saturate us, permeate the body. Breathing out, slowly, quietly, back out through the heart: MAY OTHERS BE WELL. Doing that a few times deep breath in, hold it, and out. . . . . .

Now we begin to use the visualisation, working more with the out-breath. On the in-breath continue as before, breathing into the heart with the thought: MAY I BE WELL. And on the out-breath, we first bring to mind the image of our parents it doesnít matter where they are, near or far, alive or dead. Bringing them up one at a time, or together whichever is easier. Seeing them a few feet in front of us, and each time we breathe out bringing up that image and directing our thoughts of kindness and acceptance towards them. So breathing in with the thought: MAY I BE WELL. . . . . .

and breathing out, with the mental image of our parents. As we breathe out: MAY THEY BE WELL. . . . . .

Next: bringing to mind our spiritual teachers, those who have helped us, guided us, encouraged us, instructed us throughout our life. With the out-breath, a gesture of gratitude, using the thought: MAY THEY BE WELL. . . . . .

Bringing to mind now our family; partner, children, brothers and sisters one at a time, or in a group. With the out-breath, a gesture of affection: MAY THEY BE WELL. Breathing into the heart: MAY I BE WELL, breathing out through the heart: MAY THEY BE WELL. . . . . .

Now bringing to mind a special friend or friends those whom we feel would benefit from thoughts of kindness. With the out-breath, bringing them into the mind and wishing them well; a subtle embrace, a gesture of caring. . . . . .

Breathing into the heart: MAY I BE WELL. Breathing out through the heart: MAY THEY BE WELL. . . . . .

Bringing to mind now those whom we practise with, those in our immediate environment; directing our thoughts out, including all of them: MAY THEY ALL BE WELL AND AT PEACE. . . . . .

Now bringing to mind an image of the Earth as if seen from outer space. Towards that beautiful blue, white, green, brown image, directing our thoughts: MAY ALL BEINGS BE WELL. Breathing out: MAY ALL BEINGS BE WELL. . . . . .

And now bringing to mind an image of spaciousness, emptiness. Into that vastness directing our thoughts: MAY ALL BEINGS BE WELL. Letting the mind open up, open out; letting the heart open up, open out. The body drops away no boundaries vastness spaciousness. . . . . .

Now carefully, in a slightly more focused way, bringing our attention back to the heart, a point in the middle of the chest, and breathing in slowly and deeply with the thought: MAY I BE WELL. Holding it for a while.... Letting that thought spread as a sense of well-being throughout the body, energising and nourishing us. With the out-breath, slowly and quietly, back out through the heart. Doing that once or twice deep breath in, hold it, and out. . . . . .

Now bringing to mind an image of someone you hurt, intentionally or not, alive or dead... and using their name, saying: PLEASE FORGIVE ME. . . . .

Calling to mind someone you hurt. . . . . .

using their name saying: PLEASE FORGIVE ME.

Paying very close attention to the heart. Keeping it open. . . . . .

and now bringing to mind an image of someone who hurt you. Using their name saying: I FORGIVE YOU. . . . . .

Bringing to mind someone who hurt you. Using their name saying: I FORGIVE YOU.

Now using our own name, we say: I FORGIVE YOU. . . . . .

Using our own name, we say: I FORGIVE YOU. . . . . .

and. . . . . .

YOU ARE FORGIVEN. . . . . .

YOU ARE FORGIVEN.

Being with those feelings of caring. Bringing them into the heart; holding them gently. . . . . .

Now carefully coming back to the breath the breath energy coming into the heart with the thought: MAY I BE WELL. Being nourished, filled. And back out, out through the heart for others: MAY OTHERS BE WELL.

So simple breathing in, being energised. Breathing out, wishing others well. Breathing out for others. . . . . .

Bell to end meditation.

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