Metta or Loving-Kindness is a beneficial addition to bare-awareness meditation. In this practice, we direct our warmth and forgiveness, our love, inward and outward. We open our hearts to compassion, cultivating affection, nonjudgmental of what arises.
We smile. Engaged. Intentional.
We embrace all of existence. The world is in us and we are the world. There is no real separation. We only create the duality with our conceptions, but black cannot exist without white, space cannot exist without form. What exists is contingent on a confluence of conditions that come now, before, and in the future, interwoven in Indra's net.
Loving-Kindness is our desire for peace and seeing everyone’s desire for peace. We develop our hearts, not blaming or criticizing, not complaining or judging. Our thoughts are seeds that grow into flowers. Every petal opens to the sunlight, curling up from the rain.
Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen monk and activist, once said, “Until we are able to love and take care of ourselves, we cannot be much help to others. After that, we practice them [Metta] on others ("May he/she/they") – first on someone we like, then on someone neutral to us, and finally on someone who makes us suffer.”
It may feel more difficult to extend our hearts toward those who cause us harm, those who make others suffer, and even to ourselves. We may be quick to hold grudges or punish ourselves for past mistakes. We may have been devastated by an apathetic parent, a bully at work, or a heartbreak. There is still a lot of pain within us, pain that we’ve often ignored or distracted ourselves from. To be able to let go of that pain, of our suffering, we must work on ourselves first.
After we are aware of ourselves, mindful of the naked silence, we can expand ourselves to others. As we’re mending ourselves, we’re uncovering the humanity of everybody, and seeing the interconnection of all living beings. As Jon Kabat-Zinn said, "When you can love one tree or one flower or one dog or one place, or one person or yourself for one moment, you can find all people, all places, all suffering, all harmony in that one moment.”