|The Four Immeasurables are four virtues that are cultivated in meditation practice. They’re also called the Brahmavihara, which means the ‘abodes of Brahma,’ and they can be found in various Buddhist texts as well as the Yoga sutras of Patanjali.
The four immeasurables are unconditional and so are boundless. They consist of:
This meditation is used to dedicate your practice to the enlightenment of all sentient beings. It puts your meditation into a deeper context and helps to remind you why you’re practising in the first place – that you’re not just practising for yourself, but for others too. It also contributes to the process of dissolving attachment to your ego and helps you to let go of negative states of mind.
You can do this practice for yourself as well as for others. It helps to focus your intention to awaken and open your heart with gratitude and compassion. You can include it in your daily meditation practice or repeat the phrases as a mantra whenever you feel the need of it during the day. This is a simple but effective way to share your light and kindness with others.
Before you begin, you’ll need to memorise the lines which make up the Four Immeasurables. In their simplest form they read:
The full text begins by focusing on yourself before including everyone else. Memorise the full text if you can:
The Four Immeasurables
You can include this practice at the end of your normal mediation session, or do it as a separate practice, however you see fit.
This is similar to the metta bhavana prayer which is practiced in order to cultivate benevolence. In the metta prayer, you begin with yourself and then practice for loved ones, then for somebody neutral, then for enemies, and finally for all sentient beings. Here’s the essence of it:
If you want to really challenge yourself, you can choose specific individuals to direct your loving-kindness and compassion towards. This is easy for loved ones and neutral people, but harder when it comes to people you have difficulties with.
You can also simplify the prayer right down to its essence so you can practice it anywhere and in any circumstance – under your breath or by repeating it in your mind as you go about your day:
By developing these qualities and seeking to spread them to others through your spiritual practice, you can gain freedom from suffering and help others to do the same. Practising the Four Immeasurables and the metta prayer will lead to greater peace and tranquillity for everyone.
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How to Meditate: the Four Immeasurables