The first stage of Metta is that of generating a sense of loving-kindness inside yourself. When I first tried this it was extremely hard and I almost instantly realised that the sense of feeling that I associated with love was something very different than this idea of universal love.
For me, love has always had a sense of longing, a sense of attachment, a sense of wanting to be close to a thing or a person and a sense of not wanting it to go. Whereas this higher form of love is more a sense of wanting everything to be successful and to achieve its full potential; wanting everything and everybody to live in harmony. A better translation could almost be ‘kindness’ or ‘success’. Some of the Hermetic writers talk of cultivating success in yourself; I always found this a very strange concept, the idea of ‘breathing in’ success but now I understand what they were talking about. The idea that you are focused on this sense of wanting everything to work, wanting everything to be in harmony.
As my practice has continued, I have also found that my mind is drawn to people who have wronged me or rejected me in the past, people who have been disingenuous and dishonest. It is almost as if these feelings are a natural obstacle to my being able to radiate this sense of wanting the world to function correctly with a sense of love and wanting a healthy existence both inside and outside myself. With each meditative session, as this charge seems to increase, I have more and more of these things releasing. So I plan to continue along this line until this stops and then, and only then am I ready to move to the next stage which is imagining this sense of loving kindness around another.