The Four Brahmaviharas are the highest states of emotional intelligence and wellbeing that are already latent within us. When we focus on them they develop bring great power and happiness to our life. They are “boundless states” which means they have no limit or boundary. They are also the best and fastest possible antidote to all kinds of stress.
- Metta/Maitri: Loving-friendliness towards all; the wish that a person will be happy and well. Loving kindness is ‘the wish that all sentient beings, without any exception, be happy’. Use the phrase: “May I be truly happy. May you be truly happy. May all being truly happy”.
- Karuna: Compassion; the hope that a person’s sufferings will diminish. Compassion is the ‘wish for all sentient beings to be free from suffering’. Use the phrase: “May I be free from all sufferings. May you be free from all sufferings. May all beings are free from all sufferings”.
- Mudita: Appreciative joy in the accomplishments of a person, oneself or others. Appreciative joy is the ‘wholesome attitude of rejoicing in the happiness and virtues of all sentient beings’. Use the phrase: “I rejoice in my good fortune. May you have an, even more, good fortune. May all beings have even more good fortune”.
- Upekkha/Upeksha: Equanimity, or learning to accept both loss and gain, praise and blame, fame and obscurity, success and failure with detachment, equally for oneself and for others. Equanimity means ‘not to distinguish between friend, enemy or stranger, but regard every sentient being as equal. It is a clear-minded tranquil state of mind – embracing ALL of life!’ Use the phrase: “This too shall pass!”
Practice the Brahmaviharas at any time of the day or night. You can practice them by repeating the phrases or simply by feeling them in your heart. Some people are more visual and like to beam, surround and suffuse others and the whole world with the Brahmaviharas. A practical way to practice them is to focus on each of them wholeheartedly for three breaths each at any time of the day or night. Find your own creative ways to practice them and make them a part of your life!
Nithya Shanti is an internationally respected spiritual teacher, committed to sharing practical wisdom teachings for happiness.