Metta: The Practice of Lovingkindness


Metta, also known as lovingkindness, is a meditation practice that cultivates unconditional love, compassion, and goodwill towards oneself and others. It is a powerful tool for personal growth, emotional healing, and fostering positive relationships.


Metta is a practice of developing positive feelings, goodwill, and warmth towards all beings. Metta meditation can be practiced by individuals seeking inner peace, emotional balance, and a deeper connection with themselves and others. It is also beneficial for those dealing with stress, anxiety, anger, or resentment, as it helps to cultivate a more positive and compassionate mindset. It has been found to reduce stress and enhance workplace relationships, collaboration, and innovation.


Metta is a Pali word that means kindness, benevolence, and goodwill. This practice comes from the Buddhist tradition, but it can be adapted and practiced by anyone, regardless of religious or philosophical beliefs.   Metta meditation involves silently repeating phrases of lovingkindness and well-wishing towards oneself, loved ones, neutral individuals, difficult people, and ultimately all beings. The practice begins by directing loving thoughts and intentions toward oneself, acknowledging one's worth and cultivating self-acceptance and self-compassion. Gradually, the practitioner extends these feelings of goodwill to others, starting with loved ones, then neutral individuals, and eventually even those with whom they have difficulties or conflicts. The goal is to develop an all-encompassing sense of kindness and compassion, transcending personal biases and boundaries. Through regular practice, Metta meditation can help to dissolve negative emotions, such as anger, resentment, and fear, while fostering positive qualities like empathy, patience, and forgiveness. It can also enhance one's ability to connect with others more deeply, promoting healthier relationships and a greater sense of interconnectedness. Barbara Fredrickson's research on positive psychology and Metta meditation with individuals and in the workplace found several key benefits:
  • Increased Positive Emotions: Regular practice of Metta meditation leads to a significant increase in positive emotions such as joy, gratitude, hope, and love. These emotions contribute to overall happiness and life satisfaction.
  • Enhanced Social Connections: Metta meditation helps individuals feel more connected to others. Fredrickson found that those who practiced Metta felt closer to others and experienced an increase in social bonds and a sense of belonging.
  • Improved Mental Health: The practice of Metta reduces negative emotions such as anxiety, depression, and anger. It fosters a more compassionate and positive outlook on life.
  • Broaden-and-Build Theory: Fredrickson's broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions suggests that positive emotions broaden one's awareness and encourage novel, varied, and exploratory thoughts and actions. Over time, this builds lasting personal resources, including physical, intellectual, social, and psychological resources.

Sample Activity

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit upright, and centered.
  2. Take a few deep breaths. Bring your attention to the breath and the present moment.
  3. Begin by directing loving thoughts towards yourself, silently repeating phrases like "May I be happy, may I be peaceful, may I be free from suffering."
  4. After a few minutes, extend these feelings of lovingkindness to a loved one, visualizing their face and repeating phrases like "May they be happy, may they be peaceful, may they be free from suffering."
  5. Next, direct your loving intentions towards a neutral person or someone you don't have strong feelings towards.
  6. Then, extend your lovingkindness to someone who is challenging for you to deal with and with whom you may have conflicts. Wish them well, despite any negative emotions you may feel towards them.
  7. Finally, expand your lovingkindness to all beings, repeating phrases like "May all beings be happy, may all beings be peaceful, may all beings be free from suffering."
  8. Conclude the practice by taking a few deep breaths and gently opening your eyes.


The practice of Metta meditation has its roots in Buddhist teachings and traditions.

Target Audience:

  • Individuals
  • Educators
  • Facilitators
  • Meditators

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