Here is the text of the metta (lovingkindness) meditation I led on Sunday, followed by a couple paragraphs of explanation. You can spend a few minutes of your meditation time doing metta, or devote a whole session to it, altering the phrases to suit you if you like.
Metta for Oneself
by Rebecca Dixon
May I feel peaceful and happy,
Imagine a feeling free of agitation, of infinite calm and relaxation, without the disturbance of any cares or concerns. Peaceful. Give yourself permission to have that feeling, to savor it, luxuriate and revel in it. Say to yourself, "May I feel peaceful," and enjoy the feeling which those words evoke.
Then bring into this tranquility the element of energy, delight, or whatever else for you is the essence of being happy. And give yourself wholehearted permission to thoroughly enjoy that feeling, too.
How would it feel to have no fears? What would it mean to live without anxiety, worry, or a sense of vigilance against real or potential or imagined threats? Let yourself feel what it would be like to be completely free of these feelings. Safe.
And imagine this sense of complete safety being permanent, with a confidence that you would never need to be anxious again. Safe and secure. Wish this for yourself, saying, "May I feel safe and secure."
patient and kind,
Think of how you feel when nothing irritates you. The behavior of others doesn't affect you personally in any negative way, leaving you tranquil and able to respond to them from a heart that is warm and wishes them well. Revel in this expansive feeling of patience and lovingkindness, and wish it for yourself now and in the future.
free from suffering of body or mind.
What if you were free of all suffering? Imagine that whatever suffering arose, whether related to the body or mind, would not "stick" to you, that you are actually free from taking in that suffering or making it a part of "you." Free from suffering. Even if you can't see how this would work, explore how it might feel to live without the burden of dukkha, suffering. Give yourself this gift, saying, "May I feel free from suffering of body or mind."
May I take care of myself joyfully,
Consider all the tasks required to take care of yourself, the hours spent trying to meet your needs and those of others. Imagine doing all these things with a clear sense of their value to your wellbeing, enjoying this service to yourself and your loved ones. Being alert to all your needs and happily setting aside the time to rest, to practice, to let your mind follow its own leads, to be relaxed and present with others. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself joyfully.
loving and accepting myself just as I am.
Imagine that there is nothing about yourself that you don't know and accept. No forgotten shames or hurts or regrets. Everything acknowledged and accepted with a sense of embracing yourself and loving yourself fully. Allow this feeling into your heart, saying, "May I love and accept myself just as I am."
These are phrases I developed for an intensive practice of metta to help me love myself and live happily. Please note that these phrases do not "pray" for the world to magically become void of unhappy factors or events. These phrases are designed to evoke feelings, not to alter reality. Even if saying these phrases doesn't evoke these feelings in the moment, it is healing because it conditions the mind to think soothing thoughts that are kind to oneself.