Metta is a quintessentially Buddhist term often translated as loving kindness, It is the philosophy and practice of unconditional love for others which isn’t marred by our own self-interests, but is instead a genuine hope for physical and mental prosperity starting with ourselves and those closest to us and rippling out towards all living beings in its perfect form. By practicing Metta, we reach out with our minds and our wishes with the intention of reducing pain and suffering in the world.

Such a practice might sound strange and totally unintuitive to our western minds, especially to those people who have an aversion to anything they might perceive as praying to a higher power. But Metta isn’t just idle wishing that doesn’t have any tangible benefits for its practitioners. Sincerely hoping for the well-being and happiness of oneself and others might not result in an outward change for the people one decides to include in the meditation, but it does sharpen our own perception of the world around us.

Treating ourselves with the kindness and love we deserve is the logical first step towards expanding that mindset onto other people and living beings, but today this probably seems awkward to many, if not downright silly. Either we feel undeserving of these inwardly-directed positive emotions, or fear that overindulgence in them might come off as conceited and self-satisfied. This initial hurdle is hard to overcome, but with dedication doing so becomes only a matter of time.

One of Buddhism’s base teachings is that the world is full of suffering. Too often we are preoccupied with our own problems and either doesn't acknowledge others’ troubles or even worse, react to them with hostility. Engaging in a mindful meditation that makes us ruminate on others’ well-being and wishing for good things to befall them triggers a response in the brain which strengthens our sense of community. Even though we’re just imagining our interaction with others, the part of the brain associated with real-life interpersonal interaction is enhanced nevertheless.

This helps us in a number of ways since after a while it makes us look more favorably at others in our midst while leaving less time that would have been spent on worrying over things which negatively impact our lives, thereby giving them less power over us and reducing their ability to make us feel alienated from others and accept that we’re part of something more complex.

If you or someone you know are taking the first uncomfortable steps on the road to loving kindness, or want to honor the positive change that has occurred after diligent practice, some Buddhist jewelry inspired by Metta is a wonderful motivational gift. Nano Jewelry has a fine collection of Buddhist jewelry and unique meditation necklaces relating to both Metta and other Buddhist teachings. All come in a number of refreshing designs and are hallmarked by refined 24 karat gold inscriptions that give the words of wisdom and evocative imagery an everlasting glow. Feel free to visit their online store and pick out the perfect one.

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