Generative meditation helps us cultivate and strengthen specific qualities in our mind, such as patience, gratitude, love, compassion, or humility.
By using this process, we develop those mentioned characteristics by focusing on them, exploring all of their dimensions in our lives and making them more fully alive in our world and in us. This is quite powerful meditation type. An example of a ‘generative meditation’ is the practice of loving kindnessâ€™ meditation (metta bhavana). This helps the person meditating to develop an attitude of loving kindness using memory, imagination, creative visualization and awareness of bodily sensations.
In the first stage you feel metta for yourself with the help of an image like golden light or phrases such as ‘may I be well and happy, may I progress.’
In the second stage you think of a good friend and, using an image, a phrase, or simply the feeling of love, you develop metta towards them.
In the third stage metta is directed towards someone you do not particularly like or dislike.
In the fourth stage it is directed towards someone you actually dislike.
In the last stage, you feel metta for all four people at once – yourself, the friend, the neutral person and the enemy.
Finally you extend the feeling of love from your heart to everyone in the world, to all beings everywhere.
When you develop to the stage of no longer being concerned with personal ambition, when you are able to forget yourself and cultivate your heart, you have reached the level of generative meditation.
Tonglen is another generative meditation type in Buddhism. The way it is done is by breathing in the pain and suffering of others and breathing out a white, purifying light. Tonglen is aimed at cultivating compassion.
H.H. The Dalai Lama, who is said to practise Tonglen every day, has said of the technique: “Whether this meditation really helps others or not, it gives me peace of mind. Then I can be more effective, and the benefit is immense”.