Loving-kindness is at the root of Buddhist practice and beliefs, and overlaps Vedic concepts addressed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and other sacred Yoga texts. This is the practice of cultivating loving thoughts and feelings towards ourselves and others. There have been studies done confirming the efficacy of this practice on enhancing the well-being of everyone involved.
Let’s look at Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The translations we use in our Yoga teacher training intensive courses in Costa Rica, Italy and France are by Swami Satchidananda and another by TKV Desikachar. Not all translations are created equal so find a version that you enjoy.
Yoga Sutra 1:33 gives us the four keys, which are the basis of a loving kindness, or maitri practice. This sutra offers us pearls of wisdom for a peaceful, undisturbed mind.
The keys Patanjali presents us with are to:
Cultivate friendliness and friendship rather than jealousy or ill-will towards happy people. When others are doing well, are successful or prosperous, we can celebrate their good fortune and wish them continued happiness. This is the process of replacing insecurity with unconditional positive regard.
Cultivate compassion towards unhappy and unfortunate people. Develop empathy and compassion without becoming enmeshed. Boundaries are a necessary element of compassion and empathy to maintain our own health. Don’t let all of the suffering in the world drag you down. Help where you can.
Cultivate appreciation for the good deeds done by others. Observe, honor and be inspired by their noble traits.
Observe quietly the errors of others and have the clarity to know when you can lend a hand. Observe the errors of others before acting to get an idea of how your help will be received. Don’t judge people. Avoid situations that you do not have the power to handle.
The famous serenity prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr phrases these concepts eloquently:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”
We also have the concept of ahimsa (yoga sutra 2:35), which is kindness, gentleness, non-violence, non-harming, non-injuring, not causing pain for any being (self, other humans, other animals, Mother Earth) through one’s actions (kaya), thoughts (manas) or words (vaca).
Practice of metta meditation will establish an embodiment of ahimsa, a calm clear mind, and will line the path of our spiritual journey with joy.
“The Pali Canon says that there are a number of benefits from the practicing of metta meditation, including:
One sleeps easily, wakes easily, dreams no evil dreams. One is dear to human beings, dear to non-human beings. The protect one. Neither fire, poison, nor weapons can touch one. One’s mind gains concentration quickly. One’s complexion is bright. One dies unconfused and – if penetrating no higher – is headed for the Brahma worlds.” –
You can find a guided version of this meditation on our Lakshmi Rising IGTV channel so you can practice along with our yoga teacher training certification program. This version takes about 20 minutes.
We also have this script for you to use so you can practice on your own. Repeat each line three times to yourself:
- May (they) be free from suffering and the roots of suffering.
- May (they) know joy and the seeds of joy.
- May (they) be protected.
- May (they) be well.
- May (they) be at ease.
You can plug anyone into the subject here, depending on how much time you have. The people we will be sending positive energy towards by mentally repeating this script are:
- A great person from anytime throughout history who has made the world a better place and whom we deeply admire
- A person or animal we have know personally whom we love so much
- A person or animal we have neutral feelings towards
- A person from anytime throughout history (we may have met them or not) whom we have negative feelings towards Ourselves
The second time we practice this technique during our yoga instructor course, we change the objects of our focus and direct our intentions towards our family. We start by repeating this script and directing it towards ourselves, followed by our:
- Mother’s Mother
- Mother’s Father
- Father’s Mother
- Father’s Father
If you don’t have a clear connection to any of these people, either by nature or nurture, use your imagination and piece together any info that you may have. You may need to work a little harder at the concentration.
This meditation can sometimes be triggering as emotions may surface. Feel the feels, let them wash over you and then move through you. No need to analyze or judge. Let it set you free.
If you only have a few minutes, pick a person, any person, and repeat the script with them in mind. You can do this anywhere with any amount of time! Go through everyone you know over time and notice the results.
About Dr. Liz Lindh:
I am Dr. Liz Lindh, Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, holistic skincare and natural beauty expert, Yoga Teacher and Yoga Teacher Trainer. I am the Director of the Sanctuary at Two Rivers in Costa Rica and Founder of Lakshmi Rising School for Yoga & Wellness.