Metta is a Pali word which is most often translated as lovingkindness. It’s not a perfect translation because that’s not a word that is used in English. Other translations used are benevolence, good-will, loving friendliness, universal love etc. Metta is best defined with the words used when practicing it in meditation.
Metta meditation is a wish for others to be safe, to be healthy and well, to be happy and to live with ease. You can understand it best when you try it and taste its quality in your own direct experience. To truly get it, you have to experience it for yourself; otherwise, it’s like trying to describe the feeling of water to one who has never been in it.
Even without a perfect English word for it, Metta is a human mind state everyone has the potential to enjoy. Like all other mind states, it is possible to cultivate it so that it becomes a habit of the heart. The Buddha placed great value and emphasis on this human potential to access Metta. He told his followers to practice it whether standing, sitting, walking or lying down and to give Metta the reins of their lives. You, too, can practice letting Metta guide your actions so that its qualities of warmth, friendliness, kindness and love infuse the way you think, feel and express yourself.
Metta practice is called liberating because when it is present the mind is free of afflictive emotions. When Metta is present hatred cannot be. It frees the heart from jealousy, judgment, fear, greed. These qualities of mind are mutually exclusive with Metta because Metta overrides unwholesome states of mind and heart. And it is a wholesome, healthy, caring attitudes that lead to benefit for oneself and others. How, where, or why we don’t know, but it surely and effectively does. Metta is described as boundless and immeasurable. When Metta is strong, it is inclusive and wide, welcoming all of life, which is very pleasant! You can feel open and fearless, light and playful, caring and creative. Not bounded by shoulds or divisions of us and them or me and you. It is a delightful quality, one that is much needed in our world.