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This is the last part of the metta bhavana series.

It’s a combination of stages IV and V, as it deals with Anonymous and The World. Every one you don’t know. The person who makes your coffee. The person who makes your clothes. The person on the other side of the world eating a sandwich at the same time you are eating a sandwich.

Personally, I feel like this is the stage of real magic and growth. Stage I helps to bring out the goodness in You. To find respect, love and comfort in your own skin. Stage II helps to enhance your current relationships. To appreciate who is in your life. Stage III is a real deep-down clean. It helps to scrub away misconceptions, prejudices, and other harmful crap we carry around. But stages IV and V, in my opinion, are where the fun happens.

I’ll preface the method of stages IV and V of metta bhavana by explaining how this magic comes up in real life. Because these two stages are all about the people you don’t know, you’ll probably notice surprising connections form as you do the practice. And when you do that, “others” are no longer strangers, but friends you have yet to meet.

I incidentally experienced elements of this when I was a kid. My family is quite non-traditional. My mom is fundamentally a traveller and it was just the two of us growing up with suitcases in tow. From birth, I had the impression that every person who crossed our path was a potential friend. Family was such a loose term that I truly believed many of my mom’s closest friends were my aunts and uncles. Various people came and went, but all were considered part of “us”. I didn’t realize how much of this was embedded in my thinking until I started living on my own at the age of 17.

It’s now all part of my life’s kaleidoscope, but some of my greatest highlights and transformations happened by being open to people who would otherwise be considered strangers.

These are a few examples:

At the age of 19, I met my first boyfriend as I was chasing down a man who stole my purse. He was a shirt-less kid tilling his yard by the sidewalk. I grabbed his arm, asked if he could run, and we chased the culprit together with a pitchfork.

At 22 I got lost in Boston and met an Irish musician. We watched seagulls in Olmstead Park and drank peach tea. Now I call Ireland home.

This past summer, I spent time with friends driving through the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon, passing cedar forests while eating dates and baklava crumbles. This happened because I chose to pursue friendship with a group of Lebanese folks who told me I looked like an Emirates stewardess one night at The Sugar Club.


My point for these examples is that a whole new world reveals itself when you start to see strangers and acquaintances as potential friends. Of course, listen to your guts and know that not every one has your best interest in mind. But that’s where Stages I-III run through this whole practice. From experiencing the previous stages, you know how to respect and guide your own open heart.

Now you’re ready for stages IV and V of metta bhavana.

You can either pick someone you see clearly in your mind, but don’t know their name or who they are—maybe the person who sat next to you on the bus or (oh, this is a tough one!) the person you spoke to on the phone about an electricity or internet problem. Or you could just walk down the street and spot someone in your line of sight. Whoever it is, make sure it’s someone you don’t know and say in your mind:

May you be well.

May you be happy.

May you be peaceful.

May you be filled with love and kindness.

It may or may not have a noticeable effect at first. But if you keep doing it, you might find yourself opening to possibilities you didn’t know were there.

And I’m not even going to say it as a hypothetical—you will make friends or meet someone who could change your life forever. I know from experience that these things happen. And it’s my favourite thing about life.

And it doesn’t matter if you’re shy or someone who likes to keep to yourself. You can still do the metta bhavana for a stranger and it will have an impact in some way shape or form.

In relation to this, I did it on the Ha’penny Bridge while making the #findcalminthechaos video. A few people were pretty judgemental and made passing comments like, “what the f**k is she doing,” and it was challenging to let it wash over. But I did metta bhavana for those passing me and Jackie, a homeless woman talking to Art (super-video-man and fellow YogaHub teacher) said that the bridge felt so much calmer after I’d meditated on it. Now, I don’t know if I saved any marriages or brought someone out of depression. But hopefully I had a part in lifting spirits. Or halting an argument. Or getting someone to stop thinking about debt, or spilt coffee, or a bad hair day. Just for a while. It’s the least we can do for each other, really.

So, try it. Re-visit metta bhavana’s previous stages as well. Use it as a way to lift you from the funk of life. Use it to heal yourself. To heal others. To mend old connections. To make new ones.

Bathe in the openness.


Author Matt

I started YogaHub out of a room at the back of someone else's house back in 2012 with nothing more than an idea. I'd been teaching Yoga since 2008 and had no intention of opening a Yoga Studio. I think, like everything I've done, I just decided one day I was going to give it a try. And try I did and if you're reading this I guess I'm still trying.

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Join the discussion One Comment

  • Humary says:

    I really loved to read about Metta Bhavana, I will definitely start practice as much as I can, Thank you so much Rachelle 🙂