Buddhism · Meditation

How to Meditate: The Four Immeasurables

The Four Immeasurables is a Buddhist meditation that is often used to dedicate your practice to the enlightenment of all sentient beings. It can be directed at yourself as well as others, and helps you to feel more compassionate. Practising the Four Immeasurables will remind you why you practise in the first place. It helps you to focus on your intention to awaken and to share your light and kindness with others.

Benefits:

  • Promotes love and compassion
  • Includes yourself in your intentions
  • Encourages spiritual growth

Before you begin, you’ll need to memorise the lines which make up the Four Immeasurables.

In their simplest form they read:

May all beings have happiness
May all beings be free from suffering
May all beings find joy that is free from suffering
May all beings be free from attachment and hatred

The full text begins by focusing on yourself before including everyone else. Memorise the full text if you can:

May I have happiness and the causes of happiness
May I be free from suffering and the causes of suffering
May I never be separated from joy that is without suffering
May I abide in equanimity, free from attachment and hatred

May all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all sentient beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May all sentient beings never be separated from joy without suffering.
May all sentient beings be in equanimity, free from attachment and hatred. 

The Four Immeasurables

  1. Sit in meditation on a cushion or a chair. Meditate on your breath for five minutes. Relax.
  2. Recite the first line and feel the intention that all beings have unconditional love, and include yourself. Accept yourself and others as they are.
  3. Recite the second line and feel the intention that all beings be free from suffering. Imagine specifics if it helps, such as a friend becoming free from an illness, or yourself.
  4. Recite the third line and feel the intention that all beings attain enlightenment. Really feel the darkness lifting from yourself and others, and imagine all beings in a blissful state.
  5. Recite the last line and feel the intention that all beings, including you, be free from prejudice and hatred, and see all as equals worthy of compassion and love.
  6. At the end of the session, sit quietly and focus on your breath until you’re ready to stand and continue with your day.

You can include this practice at the end of your normal mediation session, or do it as a separate practise, whatever feels right to you.

>Discover more meditation practices here
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