Entering the Fourth Stage of Loving Kindness
Welcome back to your journey of loving kindness, or meta bhavana. As you see from this practice, each stage builds as we experience each of the five stages. If you are just getting started, I encourage you to start from the beginning http://www.reikipagoda.com/metta-bhavana-stage1/
This practice helps us be more patient, understanding, and compassionate with ourselves and others.
In the first stage we learn to share unconditional love with ourselves. Some find that this is not easy as it’s easy to share our well-wishing to others before we offer kindness to ourselves.
In this stage we learn to receive unconditional love and to be non-judgmental with ourselves. It’s alright and very good to support our needs and allow our heart-center to be open.
For when the heart-center is open energy flows and while we can share love and compassion with others it also allows our desires to come true with the dreams we pursue.
Continuing to the second stage we focus on a loved one, or someone we feel emotionally close to. From a calm and centered space, we extend our well-wishing to a loved one.
We may observe how this makes us feel within. For many, it feels easy, uplifting, and a sense of goodness.
What we observe from this stage is that we can apply this wonderful feeling to ourselves and others.
Then, in the third stage, we choose a neutral person. Someone whom we don’t have much of an emotional connection, however we may be acquaintances or someone whom we see often in passing.
With an open heart, we allow loving kindness to flow to the neutral person as well. This stage reminds of me of stories of random acts of kindness. Paying a cup of tea for a stranger or offering a smile to a passer-by.
During this stage, we have no connection with a neutral person, however they, like us and someone close to us, strives to be happy, healthy, and at peace (not struggling). Generosity fills our hearts as we give.
Energy is always in flow. It moves back and forth. It comes and goes. We can give and receive.
Moving onward to the fourth stage.
After experiencing the first three stages of the loving kindness practice we become present to the fourth stage. This stage brings to mind mindfulness.
We have experienced within the positive feelings of sharing unconditional love and well-wishing to ourselves, someone we love/care for, and a neutral person. There can be a sense of gratitude and contentment at this point.
So, while we are in this positive state, it’s time to bring to mind a person whom we find difficult or challenging. There are people in our lives whom we feel some contention or perhaps feel resistant to interacting with.
Bring to mind a person described here. Simply notice how you feel or how your mind, body, spirit respond.
Slowly, and calmly breathe in deeply then slowly exhale. Again, breathe in and fill the heart-center with breath. With each breath imagine light filling and surrounding the heart-center. This light also contains unconditional love.
With non-attachment, share or extend that light and unconditional love to the person who is difficult or challenging. Focus on the breath and the heart-center while doing so. Just observe.
This person, whom you find some resistance for whatever reason, strives to experience wellness, joy, and peace, just as you and I do.
Sending this person your metta, or your loving kindness, may have many positive affects for her/him. It may also affect the relationship and/or interaction between the two of you for what is in the highest best. And in the end, it helps to learn to keep the heart-center open and in flow.
So calmly wish this person well by repeating: May you be well. May you be happy. May you be free from suffering.
You may notice many thoughts or feelings that become present. Acknowledge and gently release them simply as the mind thinking.
Focus on your breath and repeat: May you be well. May you be happy. May you be free from suffering.
This practice in turn will assist you with being well, being happy, and free from suffering.
Emotions or feelings carry vibration. Negative emotions, such as fear/grief/depression/despair/powerlessness, insecurity/guilt/unworthiness, jealousy, hate/rage, revenge, anger, blame, worry, doubt, or frustration/irritation/impatience carry lower vibrational energy.
Through the practice of Metta Bhavana, particularly this fourth stage, we can lift those lower vibrational energies a more neutral state and with time to a more positive state. When we do so, that is when changes within us take place.
This practice will guide us to our own wellness, happiness, and a more peaceful way of life. I encourage you to take some time to practice.
We welcome you to experience all five stages of the metta bhavana, or loving kindness, meditation through our 30-minute guided session.
For more information see our meditation offerings.