The notion of a prayer for spreading compassion can be found in many of the world's religions. In Buddhism, a "Metta" meditation (roughly translated as "loving-kindness" in Pali) is the practice of cultivating compassion for oneself, loved ones, community, and all sentient beings.
As we practice and nurture internal loving-kindness we can benefit from a softening of self-criticism, a growing sense of self-acceptance, and an inward calm in times of challenges and struggle. The meditation of loving-kindness can be said for loved ones who may be struggling emotionally or physically, and, then, for more distant connections, one's community, and outward as a prayer to ease suffering and cultivate kindness for all.
Thich Nhat Hanh emphasizes the importance of turning inward and growing our awareness of our physical, emotional, and conscious states. As we learn to observe and acknowledge without judgment our experience we can nurture acceptance and compassion for self. In order to cultivate loving-kindness for others we must also turn inward, acknowledge our challenges, kindly embrace our short-comings, learn to tolerate our flaws, feel compassion for our own suffering, and then appreciate our strengths and talents.
When we turn our focus outward we often find it easiest to start with those we love and feel safe. Cultivating mindful and authentic compassion for someone who is neutral or a distant connection can be challenging and, even more challenging, for someone with whom you have experienced conflict or have strong differences. However, with mindfulness and patient practice we can discover deeper truths about our thoughts, feelings, and assumptions about self and others. The potential for learning and growth is immense.
Please use the meditation/prayer below as a guide to cultivating loving-kindness. Feel free to learn and repeat it in its entirety or, perhaps, only a few lines speak to you at this time.. Read slowly. Use even deep breaths to set a slower more mindful pace. Take it in one word at a time.
May I/they be filled with loving-kindness.
May I/they be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May I/they be well in body and mind.
May I/they be at ease and happy.
May my/their happiness and joy increase.
May the causes for my/their happiness increase.
May I/they embrace compassion.
May my/their pain and sorrow be eased.
May I/you be at peace