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Suggestions For The Use of Loving-Kindness Phrases


These phrases help us pull out our inner goodness and encourage us to befriend our own experiences. We want to reassert our intention of self-kindness. We are encouraged to include all of our experiences and all of our emotions, just to allow, accept, and embrace where we are at in life's journey. We begin our exploration and encouragement with ourselves first. Repeat any phrases that speak to you, or come up with your own. During a recent retreat the leader suggested some to us. I contemplated what she had suggested and then came up with other meaningful ones for myself. When I finished, I really felt embraced and loved, from within.

After working with ourselves, we select a person for whom we have strong respect or gratitude. It is best to start using the same phrases that you have directed toward yourself and use them for this person. This can help you start to break down the barriers between yourself and the other. After you feel a deep connection and closeness with them, imagine that they say the phrase back to you. Allow yourself to feel nurtured and validated from the whole process.

Next select a good friend. Someone with whom you feel a warm embrace and deep connection. Envision their image in your mind as you contemplate the phrases for them. Really feel that they are right there with you, in your presence. It is suggested that you not select someone you have a sexual relationship with, so that you are carried off into sexual fantasies. Take delight in their urge to be completely happy.

Now select a neutral person, someone with whom you could easily space out or look over. Perhaps it is the checker at the supermarket, or someone whom you regularly see on the bus, or the gas station attendant, or someone in your workplace. Extend them your best aspirations for their happiness, peacefulness, and safety. Contemplate phrases like:

  • May you know you make a difference in the world, that because you're here the world is a better place!

  • May you know that you make a difference with your family, friends, your workplace environment, and in the world.

Now consider the unpleasant or difficult person--a spiritual stretch. Someone who brings up irritation or annoyance when you think of them. Can you find one key person or someone who is your core enemy? To begin the process, start with someone with a mild difficulty, not someone who you are really angry with. You might make the effort to find at least one good quality in someone, even though they have many character flaws! Perhaps even consider what conditions in their lives, what upbringing led to their being conditioned to have the personality traits that they express. If you grew up in the same conditions and environment, might you also have similar responses to life?

Just accept all of the feelings that come up as you work with this process. Watch thoughts like, "Oh, I shouldn't feel the way I feel towards them." The key is gentleness. Don't nourish any guilt. Soften into each phrase. For the difficult person, consider phrases like:

  • May everything you need come into your life--that which nourishes you at every dimension of your being--and may every need be satisfied for you.

  • May you smile with joy and satisfaction! May all conditions that bring lasting joy, peace, and contentment come into your life. May your every need be satisfied.

Consider also difficult aspects of ourselves. Sharon Salzberg in her book Loving-Kindness shares on page 82:

As an alternative to choosing a difficult person, you can experiment with directing metta (loving phrases) toward a difficult aspect of yourself. There may be physical or emotional aspects of yourself you have struggled with, denied, avoided, been at war with. Sit quietly, sending yourself metta. After some time, turn your attention to the loneliness, anger, disability, addiction, or whatever aspect of your mind or body you feel most estranged from. Healing begins with the open, compassionate acknowledgment of these unpleasant aspects of our lives. Surround the painful element of your experience with the warmth and acceptance of metta..."May I be filled with loving-kindness toward this," May I use the pain of this experience for the welfare of all."  Sharon expands on the whole process in her wonderful book.

Now consider all categories of people: yourself, a person you respect, a good friend, a neutral person, and the difficult person or spiritual stretch. Send out the same aspirations towards everyone on earth. Circle the world with a heart of friendship as you embrace everyone!

As you finish your time spent in love's garden, consider:

May I imagine how rich and beautiful it would be for me and others if I, with pure affection, saw their potential, their beauty, and the singular snowflakes of their lives. May I see how happy and at ease my life would be if I were delighted by each and every being I encounter, no longer at odds with the universe and beings, able to make my every moment meaningful.

May the experiences of every being be joyful, their thoughts be beautiful. May their lives be long and peaceful, may they be happy and may they fully awaken (to their potential). May every good which I have ever known flow out into the world with my every breath.

Taken from Jesse Fenton, The Aspirations of Bodhicitta, A Prayer for Synchronicity with the Universe

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