Heart Practices

There are four heart practices in Buddhism: metta (loving-kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (appreciative joy), and upekkha (equanimity). These meditation practices help us respond with more kindness to others, ourselves, and our thoughts. Although forgiveness is not traditionally one of these brahma-viharas, I find it to be a crucial practice, especially toward oneself. They can brought into mindfulness practices, and cultivated individually in meditation. You may find guided meditations for each of these practices at the bottom of this page.


I list forgiveness before the four brahma-viharas because my experience is that it can open the door to them. A forgiveness practice is one in which we offer forgiveness to ourselves, offer forgiveness to others, and ask forgiveness of others. Forgiving somebody does not mean we have to let him or her back into our lives. It’s simply setting the intention to let go of any resentments we may hold, and it frees room in the heart for more kindness. MORE ABOUT FORGIVENESS PRACTICE

Metta (Loving-Kindness)

Metta is often translated into English as “loving-kindness.” It is by far the most common translation, so I often use it when teaching so that people know what I am talking about. However, I find “gentle friendliness” to be a better translation. Metta is a quality of bringing gentle friendliness into our hearts. It’s wishing for all beings to be well, safe from harm, and at ease with life. As with all heart practices, we may find it easier to extend metta toward some people than others. MORE ABOUT METTA PRACTICE

Karuna (Compassion)

Karuna is the practice of extending metta toward suffering. Compassion is an antidote to aversion; when we respond to pain with compassion, we turn toward the suffering. Compassion doesn’t mean we become codependent, but we do feel the suffering of others. Compassion practice helps us respond more wisely to the suffering of others as well as our own. MORE ABOUT COMPASSION PRACTICE

Mudita (Appreciative Joy)

Mudita, or appreciative joy, is a practice that brings the quality of metta toward happiness. In mudita meditation, we practicing rejoicing in our happiness as well as the happiness of others. We may find that envoy or jealousy get in the way of us being happy for others, and feelings of unworthiness may get in the way of us rejoicing in our own happiness. MORE ABOUT MUDITA PRACTICE

Upekkha (Equanimity)

The fourth heart practice, equanimity, is a practice of cultivating balance and ease. It is the quality of not getting hooked into our experience and dragged along, or of remaining stable regardless of circumstances. Equanimity helps us in our relationships with others; although we may wish well for or try to help someone, equanimity is a practice that lets us let go of the outcome. MORE ABOUT EQUANIMITY PRACTICE

Guided Meditations

Alternative Metta

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