Valentine’s Day is a day to honor and celebrate the love in our lives. There’s no better way to do this than with the practice of Loving-Kindness Meditation.
The original name of Loving-Kindness Meditation practice is metta bhavana. Metta means non-romantic love, friendliness, or kindness felt in your heart. Bhavana means development or cultivation.
There are five stages in the practice of Loving-Kindness Meditation, each of which should last about five minutes for a beginner.
Stage 1: Feel Metta or Loving-Kindness For Yourself
Become aware of yourself, and focus on feelings of peace and calm. Let these feelings grow in to strength and confidence, and then develop into love within your heart. Repeating a phrase such as ‘May I be well and happy’ or focusing on an image like golden light flooding your body can help stimulate the feeling of metta for yourself.
Stage 2: Feel Metta or Loving-Kindness For a Loved One
Think of a good friend and their good qualities. Bring them to mind as vividly as you can to feel your connection with your friend, and your liking for them, and encourage these to grow by repeating ‘may they be well; may they be happy’ quietly to yourself. Focusing on an image, such as shining light from your heart into theirs can also help stimulate metta.
Stage 3: Feel Metta or Loving-Kindness For a Neutral Person
Then think of someone neutral, for whom you feel neither strong like nor dislike. You reflect on their humanity, and include them in your feelings of metta. Allow yourself to feel tenderness, loving care for their welfare.
Stage 4: Feel Metta or Loving-Kindness For An Enemy
Think of someone you actually dislike or resent and think of them positively and send your metta to them. Try not to get caught up in any feelings of hatred. If this is difficult to achieve at first, begin your repetitive meditation phrases with “To the best of my ability I wish that you be….”
Stage 5: Radiate Metta or Loving-Kindness Out To All Beings
In the final stage, think of yourself, your friend, the neutral person, and your enemy and extend your metta feelings further to everyone around you, and throughout the world. Have a sense of waves of loving-kindness spreading from your heart to everyone, to all beings everywhere.
Gradually relax out of meditation, and bring the practice to an end.
May you be free from inner and outer harm and danger.
May you be safe and protected.
May you be free of mental suffering or distress.
May you be happy.
May you feel love.
Happy Valentine’s Day!