Many of us would like to lives where we are happily integrated, feeling a warm-hearted kindness for ourselves and others. We experience these qualities within us and also sense their potential to develop further. The Buddha spoke about metta, which is best translated as 'loving kindness'. Metta is a deeply human, positive emotion which can be felt for all living beings. We no longer pick and choose between those that we like, dislike or ignore. We relax and recognise our connection with people and creatures everywhere.
A very good way to develop metta is through the meditation practice, the metta bhavana or 'the art of loving kindness.' In a series of structured stages, we extend our loving kindness and well-wishing to ourselves, various people that we know, to all human beings and to all living beings. We cultivate empathy and imagination. We simply wish that all of us may be happy and free from suffering. We may have a very positive experience during the meditation or we may simply sense that we are putting in good work. The main purpose of the meditation practice is to become more kind and emotionally positive in our ordinary, everyday lives, to live more from our depths and from our sense of how things truly are. To do this, we need honestly to recognise our feelings, including the resistant, grumpy ones! We see our own and others' failings and hold them with kindness and well-wishing. Things can feel lighter and more creative. It is a path of gradual transformation. It is the beginning of being able to grow and change.