I think one reason metta isn’t a more prominent practice among American Buddhists is that it can feel so tremendously strange and artificial the first few times you try it. We become painfully aware that we’re just playing a kind of game in our heads – the person we “send metta” to is unaware and unaffected. To people of a secular frame of mind, it can even evoke the dreaded sense of praying. To whom, they wonder, are we praying for these benefits? … we “send metta” – not to transmit a mysterious power, but to engage the social attunement circuits of our brain by imagining our relationships with others. The benefit of our practice for others lies in our enhanced ability to respond to those around us with kindness, patience and compassion, thereby helping to decrease the world’s supply of negative reactivity.