I have been practicing mindful breathing for about one or two sittings a day, and done a few retreats. I have a big problem with metta, even directed at myself. after trying to practice metta I often find myself in a very angered state of mind, even rage, especially at friends for various reasons regarding my life.

The background to the anger seems to be that they do not really care for me and just want me to be synchronized with their hobbies or lifestyles which are usually high achievement based . the background is that my personal life is much more crisis oriented than theirs , and i am also about 10 years older than them .

I have a lot of regret for not leaving these relations and my thoughts are around those regrets , that in fact it is/was my interest to do so, and the 'tug of war' that they would have/will do with me would be based on their own interests ('tug of war' i mean things like 'you should stay in touch' or 'what going on with you?' etc...).

Do other people experience such extreme counter reaction to metta? should i continue with it ? a bit at a loss ... thanks.

3 Answers 3


It is normal or expected for metta practise to bring up underlying mental states of non-metta.

Also, in Buddhism, to understand the quality of our 'friends' or 'associates' is also important (refer to "foes in the guise of friends" & "warm-hearted friends" in the Sigalovada Sutta).

Many people in the world may appear 'superficial' to us, particularly if we are 'crisis oriented'.

If these 'associates' pose no inherent danger to us, we can let go of our expectations towards them and show friendship in a less-personal & more detached manner.

Most of your anger appears to be related to expectations you have towards these people that those people cannot fulfil. If so, your expectation towards them are unreasonable.

If your lifestyle has changed & you wish to associate when them less, simply say so to them.

This does not mean you cannot be there for them if they need something important from you.


Metta is not the only guardian meditation. There’s a series of other meditations guardian meditations that you can check out, which are very helpful in using skillful perceptions to get the mind in the right mood, in the right attitude, with the right understanding, as you try to be in the present moment, and well grounded. The problems that you have listed are with the mental baggage you’re carrying with you. So, someday soon you will want to open up the bags and throw out all the unnecessary weight.

There’s an image they have in Thailand of the old woman who carries around a huge bundle of straw on her back. She’s always bent over because she’s carrying so much straw. People ask her why she doesn’t put it down, and she says, “Well, someday this straw’s going to come in handy, so I’m carrying it for the day I’ll need it.” So she carries it wherever she goes. Of course there are many other things she could be carrying, but she can’t because the straw is such a huge bundle, and of course it’s pretty useless.

So it is time that you want to look into your baggage to see how much straw you’re carrying around, so that you can lighten your load. Then you can replace it with better things, things that really will be useful. And the guardian meditations are a good way of sorting things out in your baggage.


Are you practicing metta with a particular method? From what I know, most instructions don't recommend to start trying to develop metta to someone you have dislike towards, but to start with beings you can easily develop a sense of friendliness towards.

For authentic instructions you can look into the Visuddhimagga or the Suttas.

A good series of videos and guided meditation from Bhikkhu Bodhi about metta bhavana: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiaHzvWoa1Q&index=7&list=PLgu0hJSLkqCXihm1Kbb1yW6Ql-4zriweO

The approach from Mahasi Sayadaw can be found in his booklet Brahmavihara Dhamma

Also reflection can be useful, i.e.

  • The Simile of the saw
  • the metta sutta
  • the 11 advantages of metta (sound sleep, being loved by others, easily becoming concentrated ....)
  • the many disadvantages of anger (being overwhelmed, suffering, unhappy, making bad kamma, all good qualities disappear in the moment of anger ...)
  • ...

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