Is metta meditation necessary?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Is metta meditation necessary?

Postby Digity » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:53 am

Is metta meditation necessary? I do sitting and walking meditation daily, but still haven't gotten to doing any metta meditation. I think part of me doesn't think it's worth it. I feel like you can achieve metta through wisdom. For instance, if you have jealousy then you can use wisdom to see through jealousy and eliminate it. In that sense, if you can eliminate negative states through wisdom then why do the metta practice?

Having said all that, I do have times when my mind is just racing with negative thoughts and I just can't stop them. They're like a run away train, but I just kind of watch them run around like insane monsters. Eventually they lose steam and die down. However, it still doesn't feel good being in this state of mind, but at least it's contained through mindfulness. I just wonder, if I practice metta maybe these states of mind could be avoided.
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Re: Is metta meditation necessary?

Postby Ben » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:58 am

I think its a mistake to pick or choose that we find easy and avoid that we find difficult. Sooner or later, practice will seem like the hardest thing in the world to do or continue with. What will you do then? Abandon it?
Maybe you should commit yourself to a particular approach and maintain it for a year or two before assessing whether it was worthwhile or not.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Is metta meditation necessary?

Postby fivebells » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:29 am

Developing the capacity to establish a positive frame of mind during unpleasant experiences is essential to the practice. Metta practice is probably the easiest way to do that.
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Re: Is metta meditation necessary?

Postby Digity » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:36 am

Does everyone who does metta meditation feel like they've benefited from it in a profound way? How long did it take before you experienced noticeable effects?
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Re: Is metta meditation necessary?

Postby BlackBird » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:52 am

One of the best effects I find in metta practice is it's ability to improve my anapanasati. The fact of the matter is, until one achieves non-returnership, one will not have eliminated hatred. When anger takes over, it is often hard to apply our wisdom. I guess what I'm saying is you shouldn't rely on widom to always be there for you. Practicing metta ensures anger will not arise as often, or have such a controlling effect.

I wholeheartedly think everyone should practice it. While it's not a necessity for achieving liberation, it has so many benefits, and produces an astounding amount of good kamma. I'm trying to find the sutta, but in essence the Buddha lists a long series of things you can do to accrue merit, including giving tonnes of gold and silver away - I seem to recall the number 100 being thrown about... and anyway he says practicing metta for just a short time will yield more merit than that. I believe the sutta was in the Samyutta Nikaya or perhaps the Anguttara. I'd love to find it again if anyone knows the one I'm talking about.

Modern science is coming out in favour of metta practice, from wikipedia:

A few recent psychological studies suggest that loving-kindness meditation may impact health and well-being. One study done at Stanford University suggests that a short 7 minute practice of loving-kindness meditation can increase social connectedness.[25] Loving-kindness meditation has also been shown to reduce pain and anger in people with chronic lower back pain.[26] Researcher Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that loving-kindness meditation can help boost positive emotions and well-being in life, fostering the personal resources that come from experiencing positive emotion.[27] More research is needed to see whether loving-kindness meditation is appropriate for all populations, whether it works similarly for everyone, and to understand how much practice is needed for the benefits of the practice to manifest.
An EEG study by Richard J. Davidson of people who meditate in metta, with a minimum of 10,000 hours practice, showed substantial differences in the magnitude of gamma waves as well as gamma synchronization, particularly during meditative sessions, and directly afterwards. During baseline states, where the subject was not engaged in the practice of metta, there was a signature brain wave pattern that distinguishes the metta practitioners, lay people as well as monks, from people, at baseline, who have not extensively practiced compassion meditation. This study also showed, during meditation, an increase in the activity of brain areas such as the temporoparietal junction, insula, and amygdala can increase the subject's ability to see things from another's perspective, and actually change the area of the brain that is involved with the autonomic system so that the meditator's heartbeat increases. These studies show that the amygdala is modulated during compassion meditation.[22] Compassion meditation has been shown to lower the participants reaction to inflammation and distress, both of which are associated with, "major depression, heart disease and diabetes," in response to stressors, a change that was dependent on the amount of time spent practicing, with practitioners who spent more time meditating having corresponding more significant changes in their brains.[28]


The Vissudhimagga lists a series of types of personalities a yogi may have, and I am of the variety where hatred is the dominant hinderance. So I find metta very beneficial. All the same, even people who are not inclined towards anger and hatred will see manifold benefits.

You say that sometimes you have negative thoughts that you just can't stop, that are like a runaway train. This is where I think a regular and established metta practice would help :)

It only took me a few days to notice the very welcome effects it had on my overall mood and my relations with friends and family. It's all positive :thumbsup:

Kind regards & metta
Jack
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

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Re: Is metta meditation necessary?

Postby Ben » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:56 am

Digity wrote:Does everyone who does metta meditation feel like they've benefited from it in a profound way?

I don't know about everyone, but I have.
How long until noticable results? That will depend on the individual.
Just do the practice and the results will accrue.
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Re: Is metta meditation necessary?

Postby Digity » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:38 am

Interesting. I think part of the reason I've had trouble starting metta practice is that my mind tends to be very logically driven and I don't think I'm as in touch with my emotional side. I tend to tackle everything from a logical perspective and seek the wisdom in it. So, if I'm feeling angry or whatever I start to observe the anger and try to understand what are the causes and conditions of its arising. I kind of feel comfortable doing things this way and therefore, don't usually feel the need to develop the metta practice. However, maybe I should do it and just see what it does for me.
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Re: Is metta meditation necessary?

Postby Strive4Karuna » Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:41 pm

In my opinion, meditation on metta, karuna, upekkha is the most beautiful meditation you can do. There have been many arahants and buddhas that have past through our world, but all with varying degrees of metta and karuna. The Buddha Shakyamuni has stated that there have been countless Paechekka Buddhas who have come before him but left this world without helping anybody. They only lived for themselves. To respect metta and karuna is to respect those countless samasan buddhas such as Shaykamuni, such as Maitreya who will come in the future who not only achieve enlightenment but have the compassion and love for others to stay behind and help us through our suffering. Also, there are many ways to achieve enlightenment. In the Majjhima Nikaya it has been stated that for one who develops loving kindness, compassion, altruistic joy and equanimity to a very high degree, enlightenment will be achieved.
Last edited by Strive4Karuna on Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is metta meditation necessary?

Postby Strive4Karuna » Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:50 pm

Digity wrote:Does everyone who does metta meditation feel like they've benefited from it in a profound way? ?


The benefit is to be able to look at every human being and generate warmth, love and peace from within and that is an amazing feeling.
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