Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Metta as Method Acting, Or Metta When I’m in the Mood?

By Ryanshelton7 @LivingVipassana

tumblr_laguvaixe21qzrkpuo1_500I find it quite natural to practice Metta at times, but very difficult to make it a regular practice; though, maybe that’s exactly what I need?

It seems with S. N. Goenka’s instruction, how to cultivate Metta vibrations is really up to me…

One technique, to use thoughts or memories to trigger the Metta vibration, seems so radically opposed to the observation of “what is” we do during Vipassana. I liken this technique to method acting: when actors create in themselves the thoughts and feelings of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances. I can do this, but I find it hard because it feels fake and somewhat forced, and then I question if I’m creating a delusion?

Another technique I’ve heard some meditators use, is to focus and work with the overall sensation left from Vipassana; this sensation is understood to be Metta and used to heal self and others. Additionally, I like switching to Metta anytime (during meditation or not) when feelings of loving kindness, empathy and compassion naturally arise. Or when an unpleasant emotion towards someone occurs; I then, move to accept the emotion and associated wrong-doing, then work to comprehend the person’s life so I may generate compassion. Metta feels authentic in these spontaneous moments or post-Vipassana context and is therefore much easier to practice.

….but what if I’m not feeling much? Or feeling completely indifferent?  Then it’s back to method acting I guess.  I’ve brought this up with an A.T. in the past and she confirmed that, yes it’s like method acting at first but after a while it becomes automatic and you don’t have to use a memory. I still don’t understand when and how my ability to emit Metta would change into an automatic on/off switch, but maybe this is exactly the medicine I need.

If you’re good at Metta, and you’ve developed the practice to this extent, I invite you to share what the journey was like, and how it feels when you to practice now.


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