loving-kindness practice—by the skillful and great-hearted Bhante Vimalaramsi.
This excerpt from a talk called "Metta in Daily Life" gives many helpful ideas on how to take metta "off the cushion" and into one's daily life.
Metta in Daily Life
by Bhante Vimalaramsi
"...With your daily activities, the other times, you can send Loving-Kindness to anybody. You can send it to individual people, you can send it to groups of people, you can send it to all beings, it's up to you.
But the thing that you want to try to do is start making "keys" for yourself. A key like: when you're brushing your teeth, that that's your time to send Loving-Kindness. When you're walking from your house to your car, try to use that as a key, for that's the time to open up your heart and send Loving-Kindness. Now you're going to forget sometimes, just like you do here, and that's OK. There's no problem with that. But when you see your mind is wandering, then you want to begin again. And that should be the name of this practice: "Do It Again", or "Play It Again", is that the...? [laughter]
The more times you focus on having an open heart, the more easily the practice progresses. And this is because, when you have an open heart, and you're radiating that Loving-Kindness, you'll notice it very quickly when it closes, when you get caught by thoughts and feelings and all kinds of whatever the circus is that's running in town at that day. So gently let go of those thoughts, let go of those feelings, relax. Wish somebody happiness.
Now when you have your Loving-Kindness with you during the day, and then you go and sit and do your Loving-Kindness practice in the evening or in the morning, whenever you happen to do it -- I recommend the morning -- your sitting is easier, because you've been mindful during the day. You've seen that your mind has been, wandering around doing this and that, getting caught by this thought and that thought, this feeling and that feeling, and, you start working with it right then. Letting it go, relax, come back to that open heart and giving that love away.
So you use as many different keys as you can remember, to, let go of whatever you're thinking about -- it's not that important anyway -- relax, come back to your heart-space and feel that open up, and then send that Loving-Kindness. You're standing in line at the grocery; what are you doing with your mind? " Awh, this lady's got a lot of stuff, it's going to take a long time, aww man." And you know, everybody else in line is doing the same thing. "I can't wait to get out of here, I've got other things to do, I don't want to be here." So you can have compassion for those people.
Now, if you know somebody that's depressed and you walk into the room where they are, how does that feel? Not very nice. Your have a choice at that time: you can either take their depression and become depressed right along with them, or you can allow them the space to have those kind of feelings, and love them. They can go through whatever they want to, that's their karma; they want to get caught by these things, that's fine. But, ultimately, I'm responsible for me. So what I wind up doing is just radiating Loving-Kindness and wishing, quite often it's all beings. And after a little while the energy in the room starts to change.
So you can't take another person's pain away, no matter how hard you try or how much you indulge in their pain; you only make yourself suffer. The more you practice focusing on Loving-Kindness and having an open heart, that's where the healing is. The more you can radiate that feeling of happiness and love, the more you can smile -- and laugh once in while, the more you effect the world around you in a positive way by your example. . ."
You can read the full talk by Venerable Bhante Vimalaramsi here: