Freed from hatred and ill-will. Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down Free from drowsiness, One should sustain this recollection.“Karaniya Metta Sutta: The Buddha’s Words on Loving-Kindness” (Sn 1.8), translated from the Pali by The Amaravati Sangha. Access to Insight (BCBS Edition), 2 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.08.amar.html .
The practice of Metta requires our renouncement of ill-will and hatred. In its stead, we nurture an easy going mind, an accepting nature that does not discriminate or despise others. In another word, we aspire to become a kind-hearted person. Our thoughts, speech and actions are all guided by loving kindness. We have goodwill towards all. (including ourselves)
We can simply recollect mentally, “May all be well and happy.” No matter where we are and no matter what situation we are in, regardless of what we are doing. When we recollect “May all be well and happy.” Our mind is directed towards love and kindness.. Also known as a good heart.
Metta practice can be done anywhere and can be supported by other meditational practices. There shouldn’t be any contradiction. If we practice mindfulness, it helps us maintain Metta. Even if we recollect non-self, metta can still be generated. Buddha’s Dharma does not contradict each other.
But one important tip in this verse tells us to avoid drowsiness. I think drowsiness is a symptom of deluded thinking. When our mind is deluded and chasing after thoughts, we end up day-dreaming. That naturally leads us to drowsiness or heedlessness. Thus, this is a cautionary point for practitioners.
If we find ourselves dozing off or spacing out while recollecting Metta, then we are doing it wrongly.
Personally, I enjoy mental recitation of mantra. Instead of chanting for myself, Metta helps me direct the focus to all. When we recollect “may all be well and happy” That ‘All’ includes us. Therefore, recollecting thus, the benefit of mantra radiates outward to benefit all. We can be riding the subway, and all fellow commuters are included in our mantra. With more practice, our sense of ‘all’ can expand further to commuters outside our carriage. It can expand further to include pedestrian travelling on the surface and also include the worms living underground.
In this manner, the intensity of our metta will develop according to our practice. Have fun with the practice.
May all be well and happy.