Buddhism’s crucial axiom is that the world is a place filled with suffering, and as sentient beings we should strive to escape its cycle and transcend it. The two guiding principles that allow one to achieve this are wisdom and compassion. Wisdom is a deep understanding of the world and others attained through dedication. Compassion in this sense means taking concrete steps to lessen the suffering of ourselves and others, not just a non-committal empathetic position that starts and ends with us feeling sorry for or bad about something. Therefore to escape suffering we should always act with compassion based on wisdom, a concept best illustrated with the eternal knot or Shirvatsa.

Even though these are lofty goals only monks might hope to attain to the fullest, there is growth and happiness to be gained by even the simplest Buddhist meditation that anyone can start practicing and feel rewarded after a short while – the Metta meditation or Loving kindness as it is styled in the west.

Every journey begins with its first step, and depending on your present mental state, this one can be a doozey. It has been repeated many times before, but loving yourself is the first and crucial step to being able to truly project the focus on happiness, health, contentment etc. outward. Start with a sincere wish for these things to happen to you. After you’ve internalized it, this realized self-love then serves as the basis for an ever-expanding circle of Loving kindness that includes your loved ones, colleagues and acquaintances, the people you view as enemies, and ultimately all living things everywhere. When starting out, having a focal point such as a golden Buddha necklace that highlights the principles of wisdom, compassion and Metta can help prepare the mind for the task at hand.

Even though you might hit a snag when it’s time to sincerely express Loving kindness towards someone you loathe, it is possible with some time and concentrated effort. The goal of this practice isn’t to suppress one’s negative emotions or to try and produce emotions which aren’t genuine. Rather, it is a long-lasting, trans formative process which helps us gain a deeper understanding of our own nature, and a contentedness to the nature of others. After all, even your worst enemy has virtues and strengths which Loving kindness helps to acknowledge.

Even though this meditation might seem deceptively simple, the range of benefits to be gained from just a few regular sessions are quite remarkable. Even if you’re skeptical about the ability of Loving kindness to have a positive impact on the world around us, a number of studies show that the practice offers tangible and long-lasting benefits on one’s physiology as well as the human psyche. It causes an attitude shift from feelings of cynicism and negativity towards more positive and productive thoughts; on a physiological level, it can alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress or migraines, and on a practical inter-personal one, it makes us more willing to engage in deeds of compassion, actively helping others with their own suffering.

A necklace inscribed with the fundamental symbols of Metta would make a fine religious gift for women and men alike. Explore Nano Jewelry’s Buddhist Jewelry unique selection for just such an inspirational gift, and much more.

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