Metta meditation (mettà bhàvanà, loving kindness meditation) is a practice taught by the Buddha to both encourage and strengthen the ability to be more kind, thoughtful, gentle and loving.
To do this practice one sits in a comfortable posture, evokes a prayerful attitude and then thinks of oneself and wishes oneself well. Then one thinks of a cherished person, a neutral person, a disliked person and finally all people and likewise wishes them well in turn. Done with sensitivity and over a period of time, loving kindness meditation gradually develops a deeper self-acceptance, a strengthened appreciation of those one already loves, a warm and growing interest in casual acquaintances and less ill-will towards those one previously did not like.
Concerning the benefits of practicing loving kindness meditation the Buddha said, ‘If the freedom of the mind brought about by love is cultivated and enhanced, always practiced, made one’s vehicle and foundation, strengthened, consolidated and properly undertaken, one will be blessed in these eleven ways. One sleeps happily, wakes happily, has no bad dreams, is dear to humans, dear to non-humans, cherished by the gods, protected from fire, poison and weapons, easily concentrated, has a radiant complexion, passes away peacefully and after death at the very least is reborn in heaven’ (A.V,342).