This is the first of a series of talks about the Brahma Viharas, the Divine Abidings: Metta (lovingkindness), Karuna (compassion), Mudita (sympathetic joy) and Upekkha (equanimity). During the talk, which focused primarily on Metta, Peter read an excerpt from research published in 2010 that described the emotional and interpersonal benefits from cultivating positive emotions for the vagus nerve, an important nerve complex that connects the brain with the function of the heart and the intestinal wall. This research suggests the benefits derived from Metta meditation. Peter then described the evolution of his Metta practice, beginning in 1983 with a one-week retreat led by Sharon Salzberg, an authoritative teacher of Metta. He talked of how important the words of the mantra are and the benefit of focusing attention on the “heart chakra” while practicing Metta, as this seems to involve the strengthening of “vagal tone”, the optimal balancing of energy transmission from the brain into the body and back again.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: The Value Of Metta Here is a rendering of the Metta Sutta ( a translation of which was read by Peter during the talk), accompanied by Peter’s version of various levels of Metta mantra practice: LOVINGKINDNESS MANTRA
The focus of next week’s talk will be the value of practicing Karuna, compassion.