Heal Thyself!

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Heal Thyself is the name of a book written by Dr. Edward Bach, creator of the Bach Flower Remedy System of Natural Healing; this is one of the main holistic modalities I utilize in my practice.  I have spent the last 15 years in the role of holistic practitioner, facilitator and shaman.  At the core of this work is the understanding that we all have the innate ability to heal ourselves.  It is through the process of self-exploration and increased awareness that we can find the resources and tools to support us on our journey of transformation and healing.

Here are some of Dr. Bach’s words from Heal Thyself, first published in 1931:

“Disease is in essence the result of conflict between Soul and Mind, and will never be eradicated except by spiritual and mental effort.  Such efforts, if properly made with understanding as we shall see later, can cure and prevent disease by removing those basic factors which are its primary cause.”

“Suffering is a corrective to point out a lesson which by other means we have failed to grasp, and never can it be eradicated until that lesson is learnt.  Let it also be known that in those who understand and are able to read the significance of premonitory symptoms, disease may be prevented before its onset or aborted in its earlier stages if the proper corrective spiritual and mental efforts be undertaken.  Nor need any case despair, however severe, for the fact that the individual is still granted physical life indicates that the Soul who rules is not without hope.”

“The development of Love brings us to the realisation of Unity, of the truth that one and all of us are of the One Great Creation.  The cause of all our troubles is self and separateness, and this vanishes as soon as Love and the knowledge of the great Unity become part of our natures.”

I have found these particular messages to be true in my own personal journey of healing and my work with clients over the last 20 years.  You can read more about Dr. Bach in my post, Visionary Voices: Dr. Edward Bach

I have found the message of “Heal Thyself”, to be at the core of my personal experience.  I would like to share with you a bit about my journey and how I came to the field of holistic health.

Amazingly, this path began for me at the age of 11.  I had a very inquisitive nature and I was an avid reader, often finishing a book a day.  I had a developed a propensity to peruse any bookcase that I came across to see what titles jumped out at me – I still do this today! One summer while spending some time at grandparents apartment in Queens, NY, I was looking through their books, which at that point, I knew quite well, but I happened upon a book, I had not seen before.  It was back a bit, wedged in between two other big books, The Joy of Cooking by Julia Child, and a copy of the Talmud, a Jewish text, that my great-grandfather had brought with him from Eastern Europe.  

For some unknown reason, I was drawn to the this little red-covered book, Healing Yourself with Foot Reflexology by Mildred Carter.  This seemingly random choice actually opened a big door for me.  As I read it, I began to apply the techniques of Reflexology, an ancient practice which uses pressure points on the hands, feet and ears to support health and wellness. It’s been around for thousands of years.  I was amazed to see that by pressing a few simple points on my body, I could feel differently.  I found I was able to ease headaches, quell sinus/allergy issues and lessen stress and anxiety, just by holding a few points on the body.  I was truly amazed.

When I was 14 years old, my cousin, who had been called Zed all his life, suddenly returned from India with a new name, Vijay, which means strong or victorious.  He shared that he was given this name by his guru, or spiritual teacher Osho.  He talked a lot about yoga and meditation and although he did not show me what this was, I was very intrigued.  He seemed so different, so much calmer, and more vibrant.  Once again my curiosity and my bookishness got me going.  I raced to the library and found all of the books I could on meditation and yoga.  Surprisingly, for 1981, the Paramus, NJ library, had quite a selection, and I was able to begin to explore a practice yoga and meditation within a just few days.

Once again I found that I was learning and growing and aware of my own innate ability to be clearer, calmer and more focused.  I came to experience the flow of energy in the body through yoga and the power of using the breath and awareness to create a change in my experience.  This was an amazing gift to have as a teenager.  I continued to learn and explore over the next few years.  Although a seemingly random experience, I credit developing these foundational practices in my survival through a very traumatic time growing up with a parent with schizophrenia.  And, they have continued to be a part of my life ever since. 

The awareness that I had gained as a teenager was also helpful when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at age 20.  This term was quite new at that time and conventional medicine did not have a lot of understanding about the condition.  In some ways, it is still a bit of an enigma today.  The only treatment at that time was to take heavy pain medication and anti-depressants.   I found myself in a place where I was physically in a lot of pain, highly fatigued and very despondent due to the limitations that I experienced. I did not find any medication really helpful and at age 20, having to drop out of college due to my illness, I felt certain I needed to find a my own solution.

So, having the basic awareness that I already had, that healing and change or at least what I call in my work, “a state change” was possible, I began a journey that took me most of a decade.  At the time I did not know it, but this journey was really a holistic exploration of life and healing.  As I explored a variety of modalities to help ease the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, I came to understand that for true change and healing to occur, it is key to embrace a holistic approach to not only health and to life itself.

What is a holistic approach to healing?

Holistic approaches focus on the whole person rather than just on an symptom, illness or specific aspect.  Holistic healing focuses on supporting a person in body, mind, emotion and spirit, acknowledging these elements of a person are interconnected and need to be supported, balanced and integrated to maintain overall health and well-being.  So, when one part of the body or mind is out of balance, it is understood that can affect the whole person and be a factor in disease.  Learn more

I spent the better part of a decade, exploring various approaches and modalities that addressed body, mind, emotion and spirit.  At the time, I didn’t know what I was doing was holistic, I was just trying to find things that helped me to feel better and to heal.

I focused on my body with diet, nutrition, supplements, bodywork and chiropractic care.  

I focused on my mind by exploring beliefs that were not supporting my well-being and worked to reduce the stressors in my life.  

I focused on my emotions, at first through therapy and later when I came to work with the Bach Flower Remedies, which are flower essences that support emotional health and balance.  At this point, I came to understand the role of emotions in the disease process and particularly how the impact of trauma was a factor in my physical experience of Fibromyalgia. 

I focused on spirituality and found ways to foster a sense of connection to myself, others and the world.  Finally, I came to study Shamanism, which is another ancient practice of healing, that has since become the heart of my life and my work as it embodies a holistic approach, which I have come to believe is key to living and being healthy, happy and vibrant.  It is based on the interconnectedness of all things – the “Unity” of which Dr. Bach speaks of in Heal Thyself. 

It has been over 16 years that I have been free of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.  I credit this to embracing a holistic approach to health and wellness.  And, it was this exploration that lead me into the field of holistic healing.  As I learned and improved, I began to study some of the modalities, which supported me.  I felt strongly about sharing my experience and learning with others, particularly in terms of the importance of considering body, mind, emotion and spirit and the interconnectedness of these parts of ourselves in experiencing happiness and well-being.

I continue to explore resources and tools that support wellness for myself and for those I work with.  In my role as holistic practitioner, facilitator and shaman, I begin by introducing my clients to a holistic approach and asking how they care for their body, mind, emotions and spirit as it is my hope to support and awaken the healer within them.  There is no magic formula or pill; each person needs to know themselves and to seek their own innate wisdom for healing.  In the words of the great medical doctor, Albert Schweitzer:

 “The shaman succeeds for the same reason all the rest of us (doctors) succeed.  Each patient carries his own doctor inside him.  They come to us not knowing this truth.  We are at our best when we give the doctor who resides within each patient a chance to go to work.”

I wish you many blessings on your journey of transformation and healing!

Beth


If you’d like to explore working with me, feel free to visit my website, www.bethterrence.com and contact me to schedule a complimentary 20 minute consultation to explore what’s possible!

Summer of Love Special Offer ~ Three 90 Minute Integrative Holistic Healing Sessions For $337 (Reg.$450).  Available in person in Annapolis, MD or by Phone/Skype.  This is a great way to explore and focus on a specific challenge or pattern you’d like to create change around in your life. Come Explore! Access Offer

Join Me For A Healing The Shadow Shamanic Journey Teleclass Group on 6/27

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Healing The Shadow Shamanic Journey
Monthly Teleclass Group

Saturday, June 27th at 11 AM ET

  • Do you feel stuck in certain areas of your life?
  • Do you feel that you keep repeating the same patterns again and again?
  • Are you struggling to find your life direction or soul purpose?
  • Do you want to feel greater joy and well-beng in your life?
  • Are you ready to discover the healer within?

Join us monthly to explore connecting with your inner wisdom through the Healing The Shadow Shamanic Journey Process developed by Shaman Ross Bishop.  This powerful tool will open the gateway to self-healing on a deep level.  

You will begin a process of uncovering and transforming limiting patterns, feelings and beliefs, which keep you from moving more fully into the truth of who you are.  This time will support creating a foundation to move into greater love and compassion for your self and all beings.  

Cost: $25 per session*

*Registration will offer access to the live teleclass as well as an audio replay. 

For additional information, contact Beth at beth@bethterrence.com or call 443-223-0848.

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Day 31 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Celebrating Our Journey Of Loving-kindness & Compassion

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“Reaching a state of compassion is the ultimate gift we give ourselves as human beings.  It is knowing and feeling that all power is within us and that none is vested outside of us – neither in material things nor in the circumstance of our lives.  Compassion comes from loving ourselves so completely that we see and feel others only through that love.  In a state of compassion, Oneness is our reality.”

~ Arnold Patent

Wow!  We did it.  How does it feel to have devoted 31 Days of your life to cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves, others and the world? And, even if you didn’t participate every day, know that each moment you practiced has been a heart-opening experience.  Devotion to our practice has allowed us to expand in many ways.  What does this mean?  According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word “Devotee” connotes:

  • a person who is very interested in and enthusiastic about someone or something: a devotee of Lewis Carroll
  • a strong believer in a particular religion or god: devotees of Krishna

We sometimes hear the term used when someone follows a particular guru, teacher or religion, but what if we choose to follow loving-kindness and compassion as our guide?  I have often heard the Dalai Lama quoted as saying, “My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness.”   This is not to say that we cannot have our structured religions or beliefs, but at the heart of our human experience is the essence of who we are and not the structure.  As Arnold Patent touches on above, it’s not about the material, the circumstances or even the way we live our lives – it’s about knowing and feeling what lies within and connecting with the Oneness that is our true nature.  And, it is through practice that we can develop the “muscles” to experience Oneness.

I was excited to come across an article during our practice time which shares about research at the University Of Wisconsin on loving-kindness practice and how it transforms us.  This research has been going on for some time and what has been found is that as we practice loving-kindness, we are actually retraining our brain.  I love it when science comes on board and show us what spirituality has known for so long.  More recent research has focused on assessing loving-kindness practice by evaluating a shift to more altruistic tendencies as an indicator.  Researcher Helen Weng says this:

“Our fundamental question was, ‘Can compassion be trained and learned in adults?  Can we become more caring if we practice that mindset?  Our evidence points to yes… It’s kind of like weight training.  Using this systematic approach, we found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.”

One of the aspects that was noted was that loving-kindness practice actually helps people to regulate their emotions in a new way.  In the research, this was reflected by certain changes in the brain and in the ability to respond in a more compassionate way.  Part of this has to do with what we have learned from our practice alone – that as we deepen in our ability to experience loving-kindness and compassion, we become more able to hold the space for other’s suffering as well as for the uncomfortable feelings that arise within ourselves.  This is often where might have had the tendency to turn away or close our hearts.  Thanks to Metta, we have the ability to open and to transform in each and every moment.  How beautiful!

If you’d like to learn more about research loving-kindness and other explorations in meditation, visit UW’s Center For Investigating Healthy Minds.

Daily Practice:  

Do your foundational practices.  As you begin your practice today, take a few moments to reflect on any changes you may have experienced since you began May is for Metta.  How has your ability to connect with and generate the qualities of loving-kindness and compassion evolved?  Spend some time in your circle of loving beings or imagining a time you were held in unconditional love.  Really allow yourself to feel those energies enveloping you.  When you feel ready, repeat the phrases for yourself:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

As we conclude our practice, choose someone from each of the individual categories whom you have already practiced for during May is for Metta and offer Metta again for this being:  Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, and Difficult Person.  Acknowledge that in practicing for this being, you have benefitted by becoming more open-hearted and loving.  As you begin each category, say, “Just as I wish to be peaceful and happy, so does this being wish to have inner peace and joy.”   Repeat the phrases for each category you are working with remembering to come back to your own heart center for a few moments between each category:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free from suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

If you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off or move on to the next category.   When you are ready move on to the category of All Beings. To conclude our practice, let’s take a few moments to practice for our virtual sangha; our community of May is for Metta practitioners is spread out all over the world.  For the last 31 days, we have been coming together with our hearts and the intention of creating more loving-kindness and compassion in ourselves, others and the world.  Offer the phrases for our community, including yourself:

  • May we be happy.
  • May we be peaceful.
  • May we be free of suffering.
  • May we have ease of well-being.

When you feel complete, move on to the broader category of All Beings.  As we extend out our practice today, let us remember that it is this state of compassion that opens us to the experience of Oneness.  Let us dedicate our practice for the benefit of all beings without exception:

  • May All Beings be happy.
  • May All Beings be peaceful.
  • May All Beings be free of suffering.
  • May All Beings have ease of well-being.

To complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.  Let every atom and cell of your being be filled with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.  Feel these qualities filling you and surrounding you.  Know that you have created a strong foundation of loving-kindness and compassion within yourself and you can now carry that wherever you go.  You are a beacon of loving-kindness and compassion.  

Today is a day to celebrate your journey with May Is For Metta.  Take some time to reflect on your practice and to explore how you would like to continue.  Find something fun or joyful to celebrate you!

Daily Journal Reflection

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  How does it feel to have made it through 31 Days Of Loving-kindness Exploration?  What have you noticed about yourself and your practice since you began?  How will you work with Metta going forward?   What other practices would you like to explore?   Have you taken time to honor yourself for your efforts?

Some Suggestions For Continued Practice:

  • Repeat the practice or select specific posts to work with.  Remember your practice is your own, so find a way that works for you.  I will be indexing the all of the daily practice posts on the May is for Metta page so they will be easily accessible by day and topic; this will be available early next week.  Also, if you haven’t yet, you are welcome to join the MIFM group on Facebook to continue to explore and share. 
  • Find a meditation group in your area or start your own Metta meditation practice group.
  • There are some great books on Metta Meditation and Loving-kindness Practice to help you continue your exploration.  Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg. Shambhala Publications, 2002.
  2. The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions by Christopher K. Germer, PhD. Guildord Press, 2009.
  3. Awakening Loving-kindness by Pema Chodron.  Shambhala Publications, 2009.
  4. Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat Zinn. Hyperion Press, 1994.
  5. The Force of Kindness: Change Your Life with Love and Compassion by Sharon Salzberg. Sounds True, 2010.
  6. The Healing Power of Loving-kindness by Tulku Thondup. Shambhala, 2009.
  7. One Soul, One Love, One Heart: The Sacred Path to Healing All Relationships by John E. Welshons. New World Library, 2009.

Wishing you many blessings for the coming year.  As always, feel free to stop by to share your experiences and reflections.

May you be happy. May you be peaceful. May you be free from suffering. May you have ease of well-being. 

Love & Light, 

Day 30 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Metta As Medicine For Heart & Soul

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“ONE GREAT QUESTION underlies our experience, whether we think about it consciously or not:  What is the purpose of life?  I have considered this question and would like to share my thoughts in the hope that they may be of direct, practical benefit to those who read them.
 
I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy.  From the moment of birth, every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering.  Neither social conditioning nor education nor ideology affect this.  From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment.  I don’t know whether the universe, with its countless galaxies, stars and planets, has a deeper meaning or not, but at the very least, it is clear that we humans who live on this earth face the task of making a happy life for ourselves.  Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness…

From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.”

– H.H. Dalai Lama on Compassion and The Individual

Our journey together through May is for Metta has been an opportunity to explore ways to create happiness and peace in ourselves, others and the world.  As the Dalai Lama indicated above – at the core of being human is the desire to be happy.  This is a bond we share as human beings, regardless of our outer differences.  Our sense of separation, from ourselves, others and the world, is an obstacle, which most of us face as we try to create happiness in our lives.  By developing and deepening our connection with our own heart and generating a foundation of loving-kindness and compassion, we have begun the process of bringing more happiness to ourselves and to all beings.

In a sense, we can view our practice of Metta, of loving-kindness and compassion, as the “medicine” that brings happiness into being.  What better medicine can there be?  In many cultures, the term medicine refers not only to drugs or substances, but to wisdom and the guidance of spirit.  Metta is medicine for the heart and soul;  it’s natural, it’s free and it’s beautiful to experience.  And, as we work with the “medicine” of Metta, it’s energy pours over into others and the world.  As we heal ourselves, we heal our world!

Daily Practice:  

As we move towards the end of May Is For Metta 2013, I hope you will take some time to honor the efforts you have been making to be more loving and compassionate.  Do you foundational practices.  As you begin your practice today, take a few moments to reflect on any changes you may have experienced since you began May is for Metta.  How has your ability to connect with and generate the qualities of loving-kindness and compassion evolved?  Spend some time in your circle of loving beings or imagining a time you were held in unconditional love.  Really allow yourself to feel those energies enveloping you.  When you feel ready, repeat the phrases for yourself:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready move onto the other categories as you feel to for today:  Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, and Difficult Person.  Acknowledge that in practicing for this being, you have benefitted by becoming more open-hearted and loving.  As you begin each category, say, “Just as I wish to be peaceful and happy, so does this being wish to have inner peace and joy.”   Repeat the phrases for each category you are working with remembering to come back to your own heart center for a few moments between each category:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free from suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

If you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off or move on to the next category.   When you are ready move on to the category of All Beings.

When you feel complete, move on to the broader category of All Beings.  As we extend out our practice today, let us remember the words of the Dalai Lama, that at the core, all beings wish to be happy.  Let us dedicate our practice for the benefit of all beings without exception:

  • May All Beings be happy.
  • May All Beings be peaceful.
  • May All Beings be free of suffering.
  • May All Beings have ease of well-being.

To complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.  Let every atom and cell of your being be filled with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.  Feel these qualities filling you and surrounding you.  Know that you have created a strong foundation of loving-kindness and compassion within yourself and you can now carry that wherever you go.  You are a beacon of loving-kindness and compassion.  Take a few moments to dedicate the merit of your practice. 

Take some time today to reflect on your practice and to explore how you would like to continue as we prepare to move into our last day of practice together. 

Daily Journal Reflection: 

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  Are you able to embrace the idea that all beings wish to be happy and free from suffering.  What does Metta as medicine mean to you?  What have you noticed about yourself and your practice since you began?  How will you work with Metta going forward?  What other practices would you like to explore?  Have you taken time to honor yourself for your efforts?

Have a happy, peaceful and loving day!

Namaste.

Beth


 

Are you ready for another 30 Day Journey? Have you enjoyed the journaling process of May Is For Metta? Is there a story or part of  your life you’d like to explore and creating healing around? 

I’d like to invite you to consider joining me for a new 30 Day Program I will be co-facilitating starting on June 1st  – Writing To Heal ~ Transforming Our Grief Loss & Change.  The intention of this program is to create a space for exploring writing as a vehicle for transforming and healing.  During this time, you will have an opportunity to:

  • receive daily support for your writing for 30 days
  • explore your own life and uncover a story that wants to emerge
  • connect with a community of authentic women and men on a journey of self-exploration
  • get to know yourself more deeply to reclaim personal power
  • discover your inner gifts
  • alchemize your pain into remembrance, honoring and joy; and
  • explore or reconnect with the Heal My Voice program to see if our upcoming 9-month book program is a right for you!

Screen shot 2012-04-06 at 7.40.51 PMThis 30-Day program with teleseminar support offers an opportunity to get to know yourself on a deeper level through the Heal My Voice process of Listening, Discovering and Exploring.  As you take this time to reflect on grief, loss and change in your life, Heal My Voice facilitators Andrea Hylen and Beth Terrence will support you in uncovering and identifying experiences and stories that wish to be expressed through self-reflection, writing and community sharing.  This program creates a container for you to go within, gain insight into your life experiences and access the gifts that emerge as we shine a light on our tender places.

This 30-Day Program includes:

  • Three Weekly Teleclasses with exploration and discussion on grief, loss and change
  • HMV’s Sacred Sanctuary Writing Space (12 audio recordings of inspiration and silence for writing)
  • 30-Days of prompts to inspire and jumpstart your writing
  • A Secret Facebook Group for sharing and discussion

Teleclass Time: Mondays, 7:30-8:45pm Eastern time (4:30-5:45pm Pacific time) on June 8, 15, 22

Location: Accessible by Phone or Online Listening; Audio replay will be available

Cost: $75.00 for full 30-Day Program or $175.00 for Program plus Individual Coaching Session With Beth & Andrea.

Learn more or register at http://healmyvoice.org/30-day-writing-program.

 

Day 29 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Deepening Our Metta Practice

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“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals.  Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.  Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

 – Pema Chodron

One of the great gifts of Metta is learning to move beyond our personal experience into the understanding that all beings experience suffering just as we do and additionally, all beings wish to be happy and peaceful just as we do. I find 30 days to be a great container for exploring a new practice or creating a change in our lives.  As we move toward the end of our container, we have a much stronger foundation than when we first began.  This is a wonderful time to re-examine our practice and how far we have come.  It is also an opportunity to see where more of our work lies.

At this point you know that you can always do your practice in a way that you feel guided to; so your guidance as you feel to.  My suggestion for  today is to deepen in two areas:

1. Loving-kindness For Ourselves

2. Loving-kindness For A Difficult Person

Take some time today to practice for yourself for a bit longer than you may have been doing since we moved on to the other categories.   Also, take some time to offer Metta for yourself throughout the day, perhaps as difficult feelings arise or just when you think of it.  Metta can be both a proactive and responsive process, so it is beneficial to work with it in both of formal practice and “on the spot” practice.  If there is a particular issue or struggle you are dealing with or that you may have noticed  as you moved through the month, such as difficult feelings, outmoded beliefs or unhealthy patterns,  bring this into your practice by offering loving-kindness to yourself with a more specific focus.

Additionally, take some time to work the category of Difficult person, referred to in traditional Buddhist texts as the “Enemy”.  There are clearly varying degrees of difficulty and this is something to explore as part of the practice.  At the most basic level, the Difficult person is someone whom we find it challenging to like or feel friendly towards.  It is someone towards whom we may have varying degrees of negative feelings.  Sometimes, just thinking about this Difficult person causes us to feel upset or frustrated.

Working with the category of Difficult person offers us the opportunity to go to a deeper place within ourselves.  Oftentimes, when someone causes a reaction in us, there are feelings and issues we need to resolve within ourselves.   As always, we begin by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves.  We acknowledge that something is arising within us that is causing discomfort and in a sense, we comfort ourselves with our attention and our compassion.

There are often people and situations that challenge us and cause uncomfortable feelings to arise; this can occur in our work life, our families, and just in moving about in the world.  Often, we need to deal with seemingly difficult people and situations but there is nothing we can do to change the fact that we have to relate with them.  This is one of the places we can shut our heart down as we feel there is nothing to do with our feelings but stuff them inside.  By offering Metta, we begin to work with our resistance, which supports having a more open heart and mind.  It also gives us a vehicle for dealing with something that we may feel we have no power to change.  Perhaps we cannot change this outwardly, but we do have the power to create change within ourselves.

As we begin, we recognize that the Difficult person is suffering just as we are suffering.  Even though we struggle with this person, we acknowledge that they deserve to be happy as all beings do.  You may wish to choose someone whom you have struggled with for some time or just notice a situation that arises during the day, such as a frustrating phone call or stressful interaction with a coworker.   In the beginning, it can be helpful to choose someone to work with who you find is only mildly difficult rather than someone who stirs up very strong emotions.  However, if a very difficult situation arises, this can be a good time to explore responding with loving-kindness and compassion.  Remember you can always bring your practice to yourself first.  Once you are in that space of loving-kindness you can then explore extending it to the Difficult person or situation.

Daily Practice:  

Do your foundational practices.  Find a comfortable position. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Connect with your own heart center and begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

Even if you did your practice at home, take a few moments as you as you go about your day to center yourself in the heart and repeat a round of two or phrases for yourself.  Remember to do your foundational practices several times throughout the day, especially when you are experiencing stress or difficult emotions.

When you feel ready to move on to practicing for all of the categories you feel to  for today: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person and All Beings.  As you begin, say, “Just as I wish to be peaceful and happy, so does this being wish to have inner peace and joy.”   Repeat the phrases for each category you are working with:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free from suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

As you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off or move on to the next category.

At some point either in your sitting practice, as you go about your day or in both ways, take some time to explore the category of a Difficult Person more deeply.  Offer Metta for this person and also notice what arises within yourself.  Are there certain qualities about this person that you, too, may carry?  Maybe yes and maybe no; it’s all about exploring.  Remember, it can be someone whom you often struggle with or someone who has annoyed you or caused difficult emotions for you today.  Do your foundational practices and say, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so does this being wish to have peace and happiness”.  Begin to offer phrases for your Difficult Person, remembering to return your practice to yourself as you need to:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free from suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

To complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.  Really allow that feeling to sink into you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.

Take a few moments to reflect on your practice.  Ask that the merit of your practice be for the benefit of all beings knowing that in sharing this merit you, too, are receiving immense benefit.

Daily Journal Reflection:  

Take some time to reflect on your practice of Metta for yourself and for a Difficult Person.  Have you noticed any changes since you began?  How did it feel to take some more time to offer Metta to yourself?  Are you able to see a change as you work with the category of Difficult Person?  Do you notice anything about the Difficult Person that may be something for you to explore within yourself?  Are you remembering to be gentle and loving with yourself as you practice?

May you have a day filled with happiness and peace.

Namaste.

Beth


Are you ready for another 30 Day Journey? Have you enjoyed the journaling process of May Is For Metta? Is there a story or part of  your life you’d like to explore and creating healing around? 

I’d like to invite you to consider joining me for a new 30 Day Program I will be co-facilitating starting on June 1st  – Writing To Heal ~ Transforming Our Grief Loss & Change.  The intention of this program is to create a space for exploring writing as a vehicle for transforming and healing.  During this time, you will have an opportunity to:

  • receive daily support for your writing for 30 days
  • explore your own life and uncover a story that wants to emerge
  • connect with a community of authentic women and men on a journey of self-exploration
  • get to know yourself more deeply to reclaim personal power
  • discover your inner gifts
  • alchemize your pain into remembrance, honoring and joy; and
  • explore or reconnect with the Heal My Voice program to see if our upcoming 9-month book program is a right for you!

Screen shot 2012-04-06 at 7.40.51 PMThis 30-Day program with teleseminar support offers an opportunity to get to know yourself on a deeper level through the Heal My Voice process of Listening, Discovering and Exploring.  As you take this time to reflect on grief, loss and change in your life, Heal My Voice facilitators Andrea Hylen and Beth Terrence will support you in uncovering and identifying experiences and stories that wish to be expressed through self-reflection, writing and community sharing.  This program creates a container for you to go within, gain insight into your life experiences and access the gifts that emerge as we shine a light on our tender places.

This 30-Day Program includes:

  • Three Weekly Teleclasses with exploration and discussion on grief, loss and change
  • HMV’s Sacred Sanctuary Writing Space (12 audio recordings of inspiration and silence for writing)
  • 30-Days of prompts to inspire and jumpstart your writing
  • A Secret Facebook Group for sharing and discussion

Teleclass Time: Mondays, 7:30-8:45pm Eastern time (4:30-5:45pm Pacific time) on June 8, 15, 22

Location: Accessible by Phone or Online Listening; Audio replay will be available

Cost: $75.00 for full 30-Day Program

Learn more or register at http://healmyvoice.org/30-day-writing-program.

Day 28 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Cultivating Peace On Earth

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My life blazed

with the desire

To serve as a thread

Joining Heaven and Earth

                                                                      ~ Haiku by Masahisa Goi

One of the things that may happen when we are cultivating loving-kindness and compassion is that we become more attuned with these energies and may be drawn into connection and community with like-minded others.  As each being becomes more of an embodiment of these positive qualities, they are not just bringing change to themselves but to those around them and the world itself.  Perhaps you have experienced this is in some way as you have been working with May Is For Metta or holding this intention it is a part of your ongoing personal practice.

One of the qualities we often work with in the Metta phrases is PEACE.  May I be peaceful.  May you be peaceful.  May all beings be peaceful.  In Metta, we see peace as an aspect of loving-kindness; when we feel held in love and compassion, most often we are at peace; and when we are at peace we become more able to connect with energy of loving-kindness.  These qualities go hand in hand.

Two years age during May Is For Metta, I participated in a Peace Pole Dedication Ceremony with one of the communities I am a part of, Heal My Voice.  Heal My Voice is an international organization whose mission is to “empower and support women and girls globally to heal, reclaim their voice and step into greater leadership in their lives and in the world.” At the time, I was participating in a book project called Harmonic Voices: True Stories By Women On The Path To Peace, which focused on a year-long journey exploring moving from chaos to calm and cultivating peace in our own lives so that we might extend that energy out into our relationships and the world.   And, athough I was familiar with the concept of Peace Poles, I didn’t know the origin of them until I attended this event. 

The Peace Pole Project was started in Japan by Masahisa Goi, who was greatly affected by the destruction caused by World War II and the atomic bombs which fell on the city of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  His desire to assist in the creation of world peace was answered when in 1955, the Peace Message, “May Peace Prevail On Earth”, came to him in a moment of great inspiration and deep prayer.

After Mr. Goi authored the Universal Peace Message in 1955, a great number of people gathered in support of his vision and activities to spread the Peace Message were promoted throughout Japan.  Soon after, Peace Poles inscribed with the Peace Message began to appear in various locations across Japan initiating the start of The Peace Pole Project.  The year 1986 was designated as the International Year of Peace and since then Peace Poles are one of the most recognized international peace symbols with more than 200,000 Peace Poles standing in almost every country throughout the world.

The synergy of completing a year-long  journey into peace with May Is For Metta that year seemed to culminate with this peace pole dedication.  Reflecting on these experiences has made me feel more deeply the idea that as we cultivate an energy or quality such as loving-kindness or peace, we are actually becoming an embodiment of it.  So for today’s practice, I felt to focus on peace specifically as our exploration.  When we focus on peace and being peaceful, we are allowing ourselves to become a “living” peace pole, one that is moving about and radiating the energy of peace wherever we go.  I hope you’ll join us in this exploration today.

You may wish to work with the full practice, choosing someone for each category or you may just wish to practice Metta on the spot today.  Take some time to feel into what feels best for you.  As always, our foundation comes from cultivating Metta for ourselves, so be sure to spend some time cultivating peace for yourself so that you may then extend that energy out to others and the world.

Daily Practice:

Find a quiet place and a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in your circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Imagine a time when you felt held in that way.  Also, for today, tune into a place or a time when you felt a deep sense of peace.  Really allow yourself to feel that peace.  Breathe it into every atom and cell of your being on the in breath and as you breathe it out feel it surrounding and enveloping you.  You may wish to continue to work with all of your phrases or just work with “May I be peaceful” for today’s exploration; it’s up to you.

When you feel ready, move on to practicing for all of the categories or the ones you have chosen for today: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person and All Beings.  Remember to come back to your heart center for a few moments between each category and reconnect with the feeling of peace you generated for yourself before moving on.  For each category, offer “May you be peaceful“.  If you feel to work with other phrases, please do.

As always, if you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  Use a peaceful time or place as your anchor for today.  When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off.   To complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of peace that you have been cultivating.  Really allow that feeling to sink in to you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with peace.

In honor of the Peace Pole Project, let us also add this round of phrases, “May Peace Prevail On Earth“.  Knowing that as we do so we are supporting and embodying a vision which,

  • Symbolizes the oneness of humanity and our common wish for a world at peace
  • Reminds us to think, speak and act in the spirit of peace and harmony
  • Stands as a silent visual for peace to prevail on earth

May Peace Prevail On Earth

Finally, take a moment to honor yourself for creating the space to cultivate peace in your own life and in the world.  Can you feel how this is one of the most loving things we can do for ourselves and for our planet?

Daily Journal Reflection

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  How did it feel to focus on peace today?  Did it feel difficult to work with one quality?   Did you notice areas of your life where it is challenging to feel peaceful?   How did it feel to offer peace to others?  to the world?  What will you do to continue to cultivate peace in your own life, in your relationships and in the world?

Wishing you a most loving and peaceful day.

May Peace Prevail On Earth!

Namaste. 

Beth

Day 27 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: It’s Take Your Metta To Work Day

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It’s Take Your Metta To Work Day!

An Exploration in Bringing Loving-kindness Practice

to the World of Work

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

Our intention for today will be to bring our Metta practice more fully into our daily lives. Today, is Take Your Metta To Work Day.   Although the main focus will be to bring Metta into our work life, it can really be explored anywhere  – at work, at school, or in the community.  Feel free to adapt the practice so it works for you.

The relationship between our personal lives and our work lives has often been one of disconnection or separation.  When we go to work, we put on our work persona.  When we come home, we take it off.  Although things are shifting, the process is still slow.  Even when organizations and individuals desire to be more open, authentic and heart-centered, the transition is difficult as there is really no pattern to follow.

Metta practice offers a way for an individual to stay connected with their heart center and bring more of their authenticity to all of their experiences, including work.  The goal is to allow one’s whole, integrated self to emerge and shine through.  For organizations, Metta mediation offers an opportunity to cultivate a culture of open-heartedness, mindfulness and acceptance.  Recent research has also shown that meditation practice supports greater clarity, clearer focus, improved wellness, reduced stress, increased productivity and enhanced creativity in the workplace.

Basically, bringing Metta meditation practice to work is a win-win situation.  So, whether you are an individual wanting to bring your personal practice more fully into your daily life or an organization wanting create change, bringing Metta practice to work offers a powerful tool for transformation.

For anyone who is joining in at this time, it may be helpful to read the earlier posts on Exploring Metta and Days 1 – 3 to gain an understanding of the foundational practices.  As we Take Our Metta To Work, I encourage you to continue a sitting practice if you have been cultivating one.  However, you can also do the practice at work or on your way to work.  This is an opportunity to bring Metta more fully into daily life and carry our practice to work.  Feel free to “just play” and explore what is best for you today.

It is good to begin the day with Metta practice for yourself but you can also do it as you arrive at work as a way to engage your whole self and move into your work from a heart centered place.  This can be both exciting and scary, so as always remember to be gentle and loving with your self.  The greatest gift of bringing Metta to work is continuing to carry your personal practice of Loving-kindness with you wherever you go and allowing your true self to come through in a space where you may have a tendency to constrict your own essence.

Also, you might like to check out this previous post on 7 Motivations To Take Your Metta To Work: Transforming Our World & Our Work With Loving-kindness Meditation

Daily Practice:

Do your foundational practices.  Find a comfortable position. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Connect with your own heart center and begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

Even if you did your practice at home, take a few moments as you arrive at work to center yourself in the heart and repeat a round of two or phrases for yourself.  As you go about your day, do this a few times.  Any time that you experience stress or difficult emotions during your day, explore using your foundational practices – imagine your circle of loving beings surrounding you,  connect with your heart center or repeat some phrases for yourself for a few moments.  You will be amazed to see how a moment or two of Metta can change your day.

Sometimes people like to do this periodically throughout the day, in a proactive way.  One of my clients sets an alarm on his cell phone every hour that reminds him to take a moment to cultivate Metta for himself.  This helps him to stay connected to the heart as well as remain centered and grounded.  He finds that this supports his ability to be more focused, balanced and productive throughout the day.

One of the overall intentions of May is for Metta is to support transformation in our world and organizations are an important part of it.  So, I invite you to include a few moments of today’s practice for your organization.  You can choose the whole organization or if it feels to large, you can work with your department or team.

Remember you can adapt this practice to work, school or community depending on how you spend your day.  The idea is to bring our loving-kindness and compassion to a larger community that we are a part of and that we share a common experience with.  This helps to foster a more compassionate connection within our organizations and communities.  It can also support the alignment of organizational energy and mission.

Check that you are centered in the energy of loving-kindness.  If you need to practice a bit more for yourself, do so.  Then, when you are ready, begin to offer Metta for your whole organization, remembering that an organization is made up of individuals and is also its own energetic entity.  You are offering Metta to everyone and everything that makes up your organization, school, or community.  Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so do all beings within my organization.”  Begin to offer the phrases remembering that you, too, are a part of this organization:

  • May we be happy.
  • May we be peaceful.
  • May we be free of suffering.
  • May we have ease of well-being.

As always, if your mind wanders, just notice and return to the phrases.  Sometimes, working with a larger group is difficult or you may have mixed feelings about some of the people you work with or the organization itself.  Just notice.  This is something to explore.  A part of our practice is noticing where we experience openness and spaciousness and where we experience resistance or constriction.  This is a way of getting to know ourselves more deeply and recognizing how we respond to our experiences in the world.

If you continue to struggle or difficult emotions arise, return your practice to your self until your feel more settled.  When you feel ready, once again offer the phrases for your organization.  If working with your whole organization is too much, or difficult to hold your attention on, then you can switch to a smaller group within the organization.

When you feel ready to move on, enter into your heart center once again.  Connect with the loving-kindness within your self.  Envision yourself in your circle of loving beings.  Do this in whatever way feels good to you. Take a few moments to reflect on your practice.

Other opportunities for practice today including offering Metta for someone  you work with who you find difficult or challenging or for a coworker who you consider a friend.  Perhaps there is even someone you notice at work who fits into the category of Neutral Being, but for some reason you feel to offer loving-kindness to them today.  If you can, try to offer Metta for all of the categories as you go about your day.  This does not need to be in any order but just as you remember or notice an opportunity for practice.

At the end of your day, dedicate the merit of today’s daily practice for all beings.   Consider all of the beings you have practiced for today and offer the merit of your practice for their benefit and also, for all organizations to be more heart centered.  Remember that as you offer up the merit of your practice, you are not giving it away or losing it but you are actually generating more merit through the act of giving.

Daily Journal Reflection:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.   How did it feel to explore bringing Metta to work?  How did it feel to do Metta for your organization?  Did you have difficult feelings or emotions arise during your practice?  If so, spend some time writing about them.  Did you take some time to return to your heart center and offer Metta to yourself throughout the day?  If yes, how did it feel to do so?  If not, why?  Were you too busy?  Were you able to explore the various categories while at work?  How does it feel to consider being more loving and compassionate to yourself and others at work?

May you have a peaceful and joyful day.

Namaste.

Beth

Writing To Heal ~ Transforming Our Grief, Loss & Change 30 Day Virtual Writing Program Starts June 1st!

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“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.” 

~ Rumi

HealMyVoice

Writing has been a blessing in my life.  As a child and teen struggling with an incredibly chaotic and dysfunctional family life, I found my journal and writing poetry to be a way of staying connected to myself, of exploring a world beyond what I knew and a space to express who I was when there seemed little room for that in the life I knew.  As an adult, writing has become an important part of my life and my work.  It is at the top of my list of “healing tools” and one I recommend to all of my clients.  Even after many years addressing trauma, I’ve found that writing and sharing stories has allowed me to heal on a much deeper level; and, it is something I continue to do.  It is a joy to be able to support others in exploring this powerful healing tool as well.  I am excited to be joining with Andrea Hylen, founder of Heal My Voice, to co-facilitate a new 30 Day writing program.

I invite you to join me for this 30 Day journey to explore writing as a tool for transformation and healing…

Writing To Heal ~ Transforming Our Grief, Loss and Change

A Heal My Voice 30-Day Writing Program (With Teleseminar Support)

June 1 – 30, 2015

Joining a Heal My Voice program is a bit like embarking on a vision quest.  It is a journey into the core of our being.  In traditional cultures, this is done through time alone in nature; in Heal My Voice our vehicle is writing.  The intention of the Writing To Heal ~ Transforming Our Grief, Loss & Change 30-Day Program is to create a space for exploring writing as a vehicle for transforming and healing.  During this time, you will have an opportunity to:

  • receive daily support for your writing for 30 days
  • explore your own life and uncover a story that wants to emerge
  • connect with a community of authentic women and men on a journey of self-exploration
  • get to know yourself more deeply to reclaim personal power
  • discover your inner gifts
  • alchemize your pain into remembrance, honoring and joy; and
  • explore or reconnect with the Heal My Voice program to see if our upcoming 9-month book program is a right for you!

Screen shot 2012-04-06 at 7.40.51 PM

This 30-Day program with teleseminar support offers an opportunity to get to know yourself on a deeper level through the Heal My Voice process of Listening, Discovering and Exploring.  As you take this time to reflect on grief, loss and change in your life, Heal My Voice facilitators Andrea Hylen and Beth Terrence will support you in uncovering and identifying experiences and stories that wish to be expressed through self-reflection, writing and community sharing.  This program creates a container for you to go within, gain insight into your life experiences and access the gifts that emerge as we shine a light on our tender places.

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ~ Rumi


This 30-Day Program includes:

  • Three Weekly Teleclasses with exploration and discussion on grief, loss and change
  • HMV’s Sacred Sanctuary Writing Space (12 audio recordings of inspiration and silence for writing)
  • 30-Days of prompts to inspire and jumpstart your writing
  • A Secret Facebook Group for sharing and discussion

Teleclass Time: Mondays, 7:30-8:45pm Eastern time (4:30-5:45pm Pacific time) ~ June 8, 15, 22

Location: Accessible by Phone or Online Listening; Audio replay will be available

Investment: $75.00 for Full 30-Day Program

or $175 for Full Program plus one Individual Coaching Session with Beth & Andrea.

To learn more or register, visit http://healmyvoice.org/30-day-writing-program/.

Here are some of my stories featured in Heal My Voice book projects for you to explore…

Lost & Found: The Birth Of A Shaman

I’m Okay, Really!

 

Day 26 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Becoming A Beacon Of Loving-kindness

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“Love and peace are qualities we cultivate through the choices we make.  It is up to each of us to make this choice of our own accord and equally our opportunity to share this energy from within.  No one can do it for us.  So if you wish to see how much love and peace is growing on the planet… be that love and peace and you will begin to notice it all around you.  In fact, you will become a part of the very process itself and others will come to know you for this energy in action.

Peace is not a static state as many may think.  In reality it is a very dynamic energy that moves in where strife and chaos attempt to control and tempers these situations so that all can be balanced naturally.  Love is the same way.  When we choose to love unconditionally, we bring the highest potential into every situation and heal generations of conflict… simply by letting go and loving all involved, including ourselves.”

– Harold W. Becker

We are now into the last week of our practice together for this year.  Take some time today to notice any awareness that may have arisen for you during your exploration of May is for Metta.  Also, spend some time considering how you would like to structure your practice going forward.  Will you continue to practice Metta or maybe you’d like to explore another type of practice?  Will you continue a daily meditation practice?  How has it felt to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion for your self, others and the world?

Today, explore carrying the energy of Metta, loving-kindness with you wherever you go.  As the above quote explores, the qualities we are working with in our Metta practice our not static, they are dynamic.  As you practice Metta, you are bringing the vibration of loving-kindness and compassion with you – into every moment, every interaction and every relationship.  This is a conscious choice that you are making to shift your vibration in a way that benefits your own being as well as others and the world.  

Today, really feel yourself radiating the energy of loving-kindness and compassion out to the people and places around you.  Imagine you are a beacon for loving-kindness, a bright light that illuminates life with loving-kindness; and, as you move about this energy is radiated in all directions.  You may use the phrases if you feel to – for a specific person, place or group, or even for the whole world.  Or, you may just wish to extend the energy or quality of loving-kindness and compassion out to others and the world.  This is a quality you now know well.  You know how to cultivate it within yourself through your practice; this is the foundation for extending Metta to others.  Today is an opportunity to carry that with you more fully into your life, relationships and the world.

Continue with your sitting practice for all of the categories or the ones you choose.  If there was a certain category you struggled with, you may wish to spend some time with that category and explore what thoughts and feelings arise as you practice.

Daily Practice: 

Do your foundational practices.  Find a quiet place and a comfortable position.  Set an intention for your practice.  Imagine yourself in a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness; remember a time when you felt held in unconditional love.  Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready to move on, come back to your own heart center and the feeling of loving-kindness within.  Move on to practicing for all of the categories or the ones you have chosen for today: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person and All Beings.  As you begin, say, “Just as I wish to be peaceful and happy, so does this being wish to have inner peace and joy.”   Repeat the phrases for each category you are working with:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free from suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

As you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off or move on to the next category.   To complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.  Really allow that feeling to sink into you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.

Take a few moments to reflect on your practice.  Think of all the beings you have practiced for today and over the last month.  Ask that the merit of your practice be for the benefit of all beings knowing that in sharing this merit you, too, are receiving immense benefit.

Daily Journal Reflection:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  What have you noticed during your exploration of Metta?  Are you planning to continue with Metta?  What other practices would you like to explore?  Have you taken time to honor yourself for your efforts?  If so, how did that feel?  If not, what is stopping you?  Have you explored journaling as a way to uncover thoughts, patterns and beliefs, which you may be holding that are no longer serving you?  Now may be a good time to explore this.

I honor each of you for your willingness to deepen into loving-kindness and compassion.

May you have a peaceful and happy day.

Namaste.

Beth

Day 25 ~ May Is For Metta 2105: Create Your Own Metta Practice

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“A human being is a part of the whole called by us”universe”, a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

– Albert Einstein

Each time I explore the writings of Albert Einstein, I am just so amazed.  He was not only a master in the realm of science but of spirituality as well.  His words offer deep insights into universal consciousness, the interconnectedness of all things and the importance of being centered in the heart.  Each time we practice Metta, we are widening our circle of compassion and embracing all beings with loving-kindness.  Each time we do this for ourselves and for others, we are increasing our ability to move beyond our “delusion” of separation; we are opening the doorway to experiencing oneness.  What a beautiful journey to be on together!

At this point in our Metta practice, we have explored practicing with all of the categories in a variety of ways.  As I have shared, it is really up to you how you would like to practice.  We have only 7 days of May Is For Metta 2105.  After that you may wish to continue with Metta or perhaps move on to exploring a different practice.  Also, there may be days you just practice for yourself; there may be some when you feel to do the full practice and some when you choose specific categories to work with.  This is one of the gifts of Metta practice.  Your practice can be adapted on a daily basis or you may wish to practice in a certain way for a period of time.  For the rest of our time together, we will explore a few more ways to practice, but at this point, you have all you need to create your own daily practice.

Daily Practice:  

Do your foundational practices.  Find a comfortable position. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Allow your self to connect deeply with your own heart center.  Whenever you feel to, offer the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

In addition to your sitting practice, remember to come back to your heart and do your foundational practices several times throughout the day, especially when you are experiencing stress or difficult emotions.  When you feel complete with generating the feeling of loving-kindness and offering it to yourself, begin to consider which categories you would like to practice for today:

  • Benefactor
  • Beloved
  • Neutral Being
  • Difficult Person
  • All Beings

As you begin to extend Metta to whichever beings you choose, say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so does this being wish to have inner peace and joy.”  Begin to offer the phrases:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free of suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

Whenever you feel complete with a category, come back to your heart center for a few moments before going on to the next one.  You may wish to explore practicing for a longer period of time with some or all of the categories.  As always, let your heart be your guide.

When you have completed your practice, take some time to dedicate the merit for the benefit of all beings without exception.  I would also like to continue to extend the offering of peace we brought in yesterday as part of the practice, by saying, “May Peace Prevail On Earth.”  You can join in this if you feel to by adding it to the dedication of merit or just be repeating a few times at the end of your practice.  Spend a few moments reflecting on your practice and expressing gratitude for your experience in a way that feels appropriate to you.

Daily Journal Reflection:  

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  How did it feel to create your own practice?  Are you noticing you are more comfortable practicing for some categories and than others?  Did you have any difficult feelings arise during your practice?  Are you remembering to practice for yourself when difficult thoughts or feelings arise throughout the day?  Have you shared your experiences of Metta with anyone in your life?

May you day be filled with sunshine and happiness.

Namaste.

Beth

Day 24 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Loving-kindness In Every Direction

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To the Great Spirit – 
First in all things, Creator of all Life, 
Who was, and is, and will always be; 
Who, within the immensity of all creation, 
Is uniquely present here and now, in this moment. 

To the East – 
The quiet coming of the new dawn, 
The joyous breaking forth of Spring, 
The place of birth and rebirth and the beginning of life;

To the South – 
The high heat of noonday, 
The flowering warmth of Summer 
The place of fertility and the fullness of life;

To the West – 
The quiet peace of evening, 
The changing colors of Fall, 
The place of harvest and the gathering of life;

To the North – 
The clear darkness of night, 
The deep cold of Winter, 
The place of death and purification 
and the transformation of life;

To the Mother Earth – 
The ever constant Giver of Life, 
From whom all things draw sustenance; 
Who, in the greatness of her family, 
Offers blessing and freedom to each of her children;

To the Six Directions – 
Together making the oneness of God and Creation, 
We offer praise and thanksgiving, 
We ask these things: 
A heart open and made strong with love, 
A mind clear and made wise with understanding, 
A life lived with courage and compassion 
in the fulfillment of Divine Purpose.

– Sioux Prayer

 

Metta practice allows us to do what we can to be loving and happy no matter what is happening in our lives and in the world.  In each moment, we have a choice.  By focusing our attention on the heart and on loving-kindness, we are choosing to be open to ourselves and all that is arising.  It is not about the outside.  It is about our own experiences and the attitude that we cultivate towards those experiences.  Each moment that we choose loving-kindness allows us to be more receptive and to create a place of peace where we might have felt discomfort.  When we do Metta, rather than contracting our energy, we are expanding it.  We are supporting our own journey of awakening to the truth of who we are.  We are moving from a place of separateness to an experience of Oneness.  And, we are bringing that awareness to others and the world.

Take some time today to truly honor yourself for the time and energy you have dedicated to becoming more conscious and awake.   You have offered yourself the blessing of loving-kindness and compassion and there is really no greater gift that you can give to yourself, others and the world.

Today, we will continue with the full practice, working with all of the categories.  I have also included a new way to practice for All Beings that I learned from one of my teachers.  This practice works with sending loving-kindness out to all directions and for me feels similar to the way I honor the directions as part of my shamanic work.  In many indigenous cultures, praying or calling in the directions is a way to begin the day or create sacred space.  The Sioux prayer above is one example of this as is previous post here on HOA, Prayer For A New Day.  Combining our Metta practice with the directions can be a wonderful way to expand the energy of loving-kindness and compassion that we have been cultivating  and supports feeling a greater sense of connection to all creation.

If for any reason doing the full practice feels too much or is an obstacle to your practice, then just choose a few categories to work with.  At this point, how you practice each day is your choice.  You may have awareness of a certain category you need to practice for or you may wish to do the full practice daily for a period of time.  Just explore and let your practice unfold.  Begin your practice by setting an intention in a way that feels right for you.  Recognize that you are practicing, not only for yourself but that this cultivation of loving-kindness is beneficial for all beings and for the world.

Daily Practice:  

Do your foundational practices.  Find a quiet place and a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness, in a time when you felt held in that way.  As you do so, acknowledge that you are practicing, not only for yourself; the cultivation of loving-kindness is beneficial for all beings and for the world.  Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready, move on to practicing for all of the categories or the ones you have chosen for today.  Use the phrases that feel best to you.

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free from suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

As you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off or if you feel to move onto the next category.

There are a number of ways to radiate to all beings.  One of these is to work with the directions.  We radiate to all beings in 10 different directions, repeating the Metta phrases for each.  We can also adapt this to a specific category of all beings such as all creatures or all children.  Working with the directions is a way to connect spatially with all beings and the world.  It offers an opportunity to move beyond ourselves not just in thoughts but in space as well.  This aspect of practice can bring us into deeper connection with the world in which we live.  As you practice today, I encourage you to allow yourself to really feel the world which you are a part of as you explore incorporating the directions into your practice of All Beings.  You can use the phrases below or adapt them to the phrases you have chosen to work with; it’s up to you

1. May all beings in the eastern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

2. May all beings in the western direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

3. May all beings in the northern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

4. May all beings in the southern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

5. May all beings in the northeastern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

6. May all beings in the southwestern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

7. May all beings in the northwestern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

8. May all beings in the southeastern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

9. May all beings below (in the downward direction) be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

10. May all beings above (in the upward direction) be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

To complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion that you have been cultivating.  Breathe in that feeling of connection; embrace your connection with all of the directions and all beings.  Allow that feeling of connection to sink in to you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with a sense of connection infused with loving-kindness and compassion.  Take a few moments to dedicate the merit of your practice.

Daily Journal Reflection:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  How does it feel to have spent so much time focusing on loving-kindness and compassion?   How did it feel to work with the directions?  Did you notice anything about your connection to all beings? to the world?  How are you feeling about your practice overall?  Are you continuing to be gentle and loving with yourself?  If not, are you doing enough Metta for yourself?

I honor each of you for deepening into loving-kindness and compassion.

May you have a peaceful and happy day.

Day 23 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Every Day Is A New Beginning

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“Rahula, practice loving-kindness to overcome anger.  Loving-kindness has the capacity to bring happiness to others without demanding anything in return.  Practice compassion to overcome cruelty.  Compassion has the capacity to remove the suffering of others without expecting anything in return. Practice sympathetic joy to overcome hatred.  Sympathetic joy arises when one rejoices over the happiness of others and wishes others well-being and success.  Practice non-attachment to overcome prejudice.  Non-attachment is the way of looking at all things openly and equally.  This is because that is.  Myself and others are not separate.  Do not reject one thing only to chase after another.  I call these the four immeasurables.  Practice them and you will become a refreshing source of vitality and happiness for others.”

– Buddha speaking to his son, Rahula

Everyday is a new beginning.  If for some reason you have lost momentum with your practice or even if you have dropped off, just remember that you can begin again.  You can continue right where you left off or move on; you can even start over again if that feels right to you.  This exploration is about cultivating loving-kindness and compassion.  It is also about developing a daily meditation practice in a way that supports you where you are today.

During meditation, we use an anchor such as the breath or the phrases to bring us back to the present moment; we do this whenever we realize our mind has wandered.  In the same way, when we realize we have gotten off track or missed a day or two or three of our practice, we simply return to it.  We do this with gentleness and with love.  We just notice we have gotten distracted and we return to the practice.  Although our natural habitual tendency might be to move into self-judgment or harshness, we can choose to embrace our practice of loving-kindness by just noticing where we are and then gently and lovingly returning to our center.

Meditation offers us the opportunity to return to our center and to begin anew in every moment.  Metta teaches us to be loving and compassionate with ourselves in our practice and in our daily life.  Extend this gift of loving-kindness to yourself in the moment and explore what’s possible.

Today, we will work with the full practice, choosing one person for each of the categories.  If for any reason this feels too much or is an obstacle to your practice, then just choose a few categories to work with.  Begin your practice by setting an intention in a way that feels right for you. Recognize that you are practicing, not just for yourself and that the cultivation of loving-kindness is beneficial for all beings and for the world.

Daily Practice: 

Do your foundational practices.  Find a quiet place and a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in your circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Imagine a time when you felt held in that way.  Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself.

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready, move on to practicing for all of the categories or the ones you have chosen for today: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person and All Beings.  Remember to come back to your heart center for a few moments between each category.  Offer the phrases for each being you have chosen to work with today:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free from suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

As you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off.  To complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion that you have been cultivating. Really allow that feeling to sink in to you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with loving-kindness and compassion

Daily Journal Reflection:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  How are you feeling about your practice?  Can you approach your practice with gentleness and compassion rather than harshness or judgment?  How does it feel to be cultivating a daily practice or exploring expanding in loving-kindness? Are you able to connect with your heart center more easily? If so, how does that feel?  If not, what is getting in your way?  Are you being gentle and loving with yourself in regards to your practice? in your life?

May you have a peaceful and happy day.

Day 22 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Planting Seeds Of Loving-kindness

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 “Hatred cannot coexist with loving-kindness,and

dissipates if supplanted with thoughts based on loving-kindness”. 

– Buddha

It is a natural aspect of life that we are troubled by difficult emotional states and often, we may find it difficult to deal with them.  However, even when the mind is troubled, it is within the capacity of each of us to arouse positive feelings.  The Buddha taught the practice of Metta meditation to develop the mental habit of loving-kindness and compassion for one’s self and others.

Loving-kindness is a practice which can bring about positive attitudinal changes.  It assists in developing a quality of loving acceptance.  This is a way of healing the mind and freeing it from pain and confusion.  Metta practice offers the immediate benefit of changing our habitual negative patterns present in the mind as well bringing about a positive outlook on life.

Sometimes the response to Metta is immediate; we begin to feel more loving-kindness and happiness right away.  Other times, we do the practice, and do it some more, and do not feel very different.  Still, even without feeling it, it is important to know that we are creating a positive change in our minds and our lives.  It is like planting a seed.  It takes time for the seed to develop and to begin to burst forth.  Think of Metta practice as planting seeds for the cultivation of loving-kindness and compassion in your life, your relationships and in the world.

One of the ways we can work with Metta is in response to things that happen in the world such as natural disasters, acts of violence or other tragedies that are happening in every moment.  Or, maybe there is someone we know personally who is suffering from a disease such as cancer or perhaps the loss of a loved one.  Regardless of the size or scope of the situation, what is happening is that we are becoming aware of suffering.  It is possible we may be unable to do something outwardly to help.  It is also possible we are having a strong or difficult reaction to this suffering.

Offering Metta in response to tragedy or to the awareness of another’s suffering is one of the great gifts of the practice.  We may or may not be able to do something outwardly, but inwardly we can generate loving-kindness and compassion for those in need.   So let’s take some time today in our practice to offer Metta to others around the world who are suffering.  Perhaps something you saw in the news today pulled at your heart-strings; this is a perfect opportunity to practice Metta.

Today, let’s work with the full practice and all of the categories.  If for any reason this feels too much or is an obstacle to your practice, then just choose a few categories to work with.  Just take a few moments to breathe into your heart center and feel what is right for you today.

Daily Practice:  

Do your foundational practices. Find a quiet place and a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in your circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness  in a time when you felt held in that way.  Then, begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself.

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free from suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready, move on to practicing for all of the categories or the ones you have chosen for today: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person, and All Beings.  Acknowledge that “just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, so does this being wish to be happy and free from suffering.”  Then, move onto working with the phrases that feel best to you.

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaecful.
  • May you be free from suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

If you become distracted at any point or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning your practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  Then, return your practice to where you left off.  When you are ready to complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion that you have been cultivating.  Really allow that feeling to sink into you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with loving-kindness and compassion. Let this energy support you as you journey through the day.

Anytime you become aware of someone, somewhere in the world, or some group of people who are suffering, take a few moments to practice on the spot.  This is a gift to others and the world and to yourself as you are choosing to open your heart in a moment when it may feel like closing.  In offering loving-kindness and compassion, you are opening to receive it more deeply as well.  And, remember, each time that you practice Metta you are planting seeds of loving-kindness and compassion that can grow and flow where they are needed in the world.

At the beginning of our time, I offered that we would dedicate the merit of this practice to the people of Nepal and the the people of Baltimore as well as any other communities we feel to share our Metta with.  I invite you to take some time to do that day and additionally, for the benefit of all beings as in the words of Shantideva:

May the earth be wholesome everywhere
The world blessed with prosperity
May the poor and destitute find wealth
And the stooping animals be freed

May every being ailing with illness
Find relief at once from suffering
May all the sickness that afflict the living
Be instantly and permanently healed

May those who go in dread, have no more fear,
May captives be unchained and set free,
And may the weak now become strong,
May living beings help each other in kindness.

May travelers upon the road,
Find happiness no matter where they go,
And may they gain, without hardship,
The goals on which their hearts are set.

From the songs of birds and the sighing of trees,
From the shafts of light and from the sky itself,
May living beings, each and every one,
Perceive the constant sound of Dharma

– Shantideva

Daily Journal Reflection: 

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  How are you feeling about your Metta practice?  Are you noticing a difference in how you feel or what you are experiencing?  If yes, what is that like?  If no, are you okay knowing you are planting seeds?  Do you think you may continue to practice Metta or daily meditation after the 31 days?  If so, what will that look like?  If not, what is stopping you?   Did you explore practicing on the spot?

May you be happy. May you be peaceful. May you be free of suffering. May you have ease of well-being.

Day 21 ~ May Is For Metta 2013: Walking Metta Meditation

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“In my room, the world is beyond my understanding; 

but when I walk I see that it consists of three or four hills and a cloud.”

– Walllace Stevens

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During our practice in 2010, one of our participants shared that she had incorporated her practice of Metta with walking meditation, which she usually did outside.  I have always found walking meditation to be very beneficial because it helps to develop a practice in a way that supports carrying it out into the world.  Living in New York City for a large part of my life, I found this practice very beneficial.  It was not possible to connect with the many people I saw everyday or even offer help to all of those I saw in need, but it was possible to offer loving-kindness and compassion.  I know this practice was something that helped me to have a much greater connection to the world around me as well as a deep sense of peace.

At the time of the Buddha, it was a traditional practice for the monks and nuns to practice the cultivation of loving-kindness meditation as they walked around.  As they went around town asking for food, they would radiate out loving-kindness and compassion to everyone they encountered on the streets.  Today, I encourage you to explore combining your Metta practice with walking meditation, either as a formal practice or just by going out for a walk.  In basic walking meditation, we hold our awareness on each step.  Stepping right, stepping left.  This is our anchor as the breath may be our anchor in other practices.  In working with Metta, be present with each step but continue to use the phrases as your anchor if your mind wanders or you become distracted.

This is a short video with Thich Nhat Hanh sharing about the practice of walking meditation and the importance of making peaceful, happy steps on the earth.  He quotes the Buddha as saying, “As you can make peaceful, happy steps on the earth, the earth can become the pureland.”  Take some time today to make peaceful, happy steps on the earth.

Daily Practice: 

Choose whether you want to do a sitting practice and then explore doing some Metta as you go for a walk.  Or, choose to incorporate your Metta practice with walking meditation.  You can choose to walk in a circle or perhaps find somewhere in nature where you can practice mindful walking.  Do your foundational practices.  Imagine yourself in the center of your circle of loving beings or just enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness. Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself.

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready, move on to practicing for all of the categories or the ones you have chosen for today using the phrases that feel best to you. Try to take at least part of your practice out into the world, whether doing walking meditation, going for a walk or even while at the grocery store.  Explore extending Metta to people you see out in the world remembering that “just as you wish to be happy and peaceful, so does this being wish to have inner peace and joyfulness.”  Repeat the phrases:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free of suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

If you become distracted at any point or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning your practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns. Then, return your practice to where you left off.  When you are ready to complete your practice, return yourself to the circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion that you have been cultivating.  Really allow that feeling to sink in to you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with loving-kindness and compassion.

When you feel complete with all of the categories you are practicing for today, dedicate the merit of your practice:

  • May all beings have happiness and it’s cause.
  • May all beings be free of suffering, joyous content and at ease.
  • May all beings be balanced in equanimity towards one and all.
  • May the merit of my practice be for my own benefit and for that of all sentient beings

Daily Journal Reflection: 

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.   Did you explore combining Metta with walking meditation?  How did that feel?  How is your practice going?  Are you able to spend some time everyday in practice?  If yes, what are you noticing?  If not, what is stopping you?

May you all have a radiantly joyful day.

Namaste.

Day 20 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Bringing Our Practice Together

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Ten Thousand flowers in spring, the moon 
in autumn,

A cool breeze in summer, snow in winter –

If your mind is not clouded by unnecessary things, 

this is the best season of your life.

~ Chinese Proverb

Today, we will continue our practice of Metta by working with all of the categories to experience the full practice of Metta.   If for some reason this feels too much, just choose a few to work with for today.  A question arose about the phrases, which I have been exploring and pondering during this year’s practice.   The question had to do with the difference between the Metta phrases and affirmations and wondering why not to use statements like, “I am happy, I am peaceful, I am free of suffering, etc.” rather than “May I be…”.   I am sure there are some complex answers to this question and yet, the simple one that has arisen is that rather than affirming, when we use the Metta phrases we are inviting those qualities to begin to arise.  We may not be that in this moment, but we are inviting the qualities of loving-kindness and compassion to arise within us and then offering that they arise for others in the same way.  It feels like there is some fertile ground for exploration and discussion of this topic, so feel free to comment on the post here or drop a note on our on Facebook page with your reflections on the phrases.

Also, I came across this explanation of what Metta “is not” on the Wildmind Buddhist Meditation website, which feels like it may be helpful:

  • Metta isn’t the same thing as feeling good, although when we feel metta we do feel more complete, and usually feel more joyful and happy.  But it’s possible to feel good and for that not to be metta. We can feel good, but be rather selfish and inconsiderate, for example.  Metta has a quality of caring about others.
  • Metta isn’t self-sacrifice.  A metta-full individual is not someone who always puts others before themselves.  Metta has a quality of appreciation, and we need to learn to appreciate ourselves as well as others.
  • Metta isn’t something unknown.  We all experience Metta.  Every time you feel pleasure in seeing someone do well, or are patient with someone who’s a bit difficult, or are considerate and ask someone what they think, you’re experiencing Metta.
  • Metta isn’t denying your experience.  To practice Metta doesn’t mean “being nice” in a false way.  It means that even if you don’t like someone, you can still have their welfare at heart.
  • Metta isn’t all or nothing.  Metta exists in degrees, and can be expressed in such simple ways as simple as politeness and courtesy.

As we work with the phrases, it is good to find ones that work for us and also, to explore the ones we struggle with.  It’s all about being open to our experience and what is arising in each moment within ourselves.  Really, the phrases are merely translating the energetic quality of loving-kindness and compassion into language and so if you find yourself struggling with a phrase, it may be helpful to return to a time when you felt that energy or imagine yourself again in your circle of loving beings.

Daily Practice: 

Once again, find a comfortable position.  Do your foundational practices.  Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or just enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself.

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready, move on to practicing for all of the categories: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person and All Beings.  Or, if you prefer, choose a few categories to work with today.  You may even want to offer Metta for more than one person in a particular category.  Be open to exploring what feels good to you, but also consider exploring the full practice today or tomorrow just to see how it feels to work with all of the categories. There is a wonderful opportunity to explore how we respond to others and the world as we work with the various categories and sometimes it is helpful to flow through the full practice to see where we experience openness and spaciousness and where our resistance resides.

During your practice, if you become distracted at any point or difficult feelings arise, use the switch back, returning your practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  Then, return your practice to the category where you left off. When you are ready to complete your practice, return yourself to the circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion that you have been cultivating.  Really allow that feeling to sink in to you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with loving-kindness and compassion.

When you feel complete with all of the categories you are practicing for today, dedicate the merit of your practice:

  • May all beings have happiness and it’s cause.
  • May all beings be free of suffering, joyous content and at ease.
  • May all beings be balanced in equanimity towards one and all.
  • May the merit of my practice be for my own benefit and for that of all sentient beings

Daily Journal Reflection: 

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.   Are you noticing openness or resistance to certain phrases?  Have you found phrases that feel good to you?  How does it feel to do a more expanded practice?  Are you able to make the time and space to practice?  Are you remembering to be gentle and loving with yourself?

May you all have a peaceful and loving day.

Namaste.

Beth

Day 19 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Expanding Our Metta To All Beings

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Let thoughts of loving-kindness pervade the whole world, above and below, outwards and unbounded, free from any hatred or ill-will.  Whether standing or walking, sitting or lying down, during all one’s waking hours, tend this mind of goodwill, which is called the state of sublime abiding.

– The Buddha, Sutta Nipata

The Buddha taught that loving-kindness practice is central to happiness.  The practice of Metta is very positive and as we have touched on earlier, really means cultivating a deep “friendliness” toward ourselves, others and all beings.  Sometimes people think these feelings should arise naturally or spontaneously rather than being generated.  The Buddha shared that there is a need to cultivate these qualities.  He taught that achieving this state, know as sublime abiding, where heart and mind are one, does come from a heavenly state, however it is something we must invite into ourselves and our lives.  In a sense, by working with the energies and qualities of loving-kindness and compassion, we are activating that part of our divinity.

Today, we will continue our practice with groups of beings and the category of All Beings.  We will also add one or two of the individual categories to the practice before we bring the full practice together tomorrow.  

Daily Practice:  

As always, we begin by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves.  Find a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I be free from danger.
  • May I have mental happiness.
  • May I have physical happiness.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready, choose one category, either a Benefactor/Mentor or a Beloved to work with.  Envision holding this being in loving-kindness and compassion.  Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so does this being wish for joy and serenity.”  Begin to offer phrases for the person you have chosen:

  • May you be free from danger.
  • May you have mental happiness.
  • May you have physical happiness.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready, come back to your heart center and repeat a round of phrases for yourself.  Then, choose either a Neutral being or a Difficult person to work with.  Envision holding this being in loving-kindness and compassion.   Begin to offer phrases for this person, saying, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so does this being wish for joy and serenity.”   Repeat the phrases for this being:

  • May you be free from danger.
  • May you have mental happiness.
  • May you have physical happiness.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

Again, when you feel ready to move on, come back to your heart center for a few moments and repeat a round of phrases for yourself.  This time call on a group of All Beings, such as All Children, All Animals, All Men, or All Women.  Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so do All ______  wish for joy and serenity.”  Begin to offer loving-kindness to this group by offering the phrases:

  • May All _______ be free from danger.
  • May All _______ have mental happiness.
  • May All _______ have physical happiness.
  • May All _______ have ease of well-being.

As always, if your mind wanders, just notice and return to the phrases.  If you continue to struggle or difficult emotions arise, return your practice to your self until your feel more settled.  When you feel ready, once again offer the phrases for your group.  If working with a large group is too difficult, you can always choose a smaller group, like your family or a community you are a part of.  Sometimes it is more challenging to hold our focus and awareness on a larger group of beings, particularly spread out around the world.

When you feel ready to move on, center in your heart once again.  Connect with the loving-kindness within your self.  Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so do All Beings wish for joy and serenity.”  And, gently begin to repeat the phrases for All Beings:

  • May All Beings be free from danger.
  • May All Beings have mental happiness.
  • May All Beings have physical happiness.
  • May All Beings have ease of well-being.

If at any point you need to return the practice to yourself, or perhaps return to a smaller group, do so.   Being gentle and responsive to yourself is one of the gifts of Metta practice.  We notice our difficulty or resistance, but rather than ignoring it or trying to push through it, we return to our own heart and to cultivating loving-kindness for ourselves.  It can be helpful to reflect on or journal about what difficulties arise as they are indication of things we need to work on in ourselves.  When you feel complete with your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the loving-kindness and compassion that you have been cultivating.  Allow that feeling to sink in to you, let every atom and cell of your being to absorb the energy of loving-kindness.  Take a few moments to reflect on your practice.

Dedicate the merit of your practice for all beings.  Consider all of the beings you have practiced for today and offer the merit of your practice for their benefit.  Remember that as you offer up the merit of your practice, you are not giving it away or losing it but you are actually generating more merit through the act of giving.

Daily Journal Reflection:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  Did you have difficult feelings or emotions arise during your practice?  If so, spend some time writing about them.  What did you notice in practicing for various categories of individuals and groups?  Were some more difficult than others?  Were some easier?  How are you feeling about your practice overall?  Is there anything you’d like to change about it for the rest of our time together? This can be a good time to review your commitment to see if you’d like to make any changes.

May the road rise up to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

And the rain fall soft upon your fields,

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

– An Irish Blessing

 

Day 18 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Offering Loving-Kindness For All Beings

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“How and why we love changes the qualities of our love.  Love with loving-kindness transforms the love into a nectar of wisdom.  Love with attachment transforms love into poison, into a state of afflicting emotions.  Therefore, we must recognize the characteristics of the love that is loving-kindness and how to generate it in ourselves.  Gampopa, one of the greatest masters of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, wrote:

‘The object of the meditation on loving-kindness is all beings.  The way is wishing them to have happiness.  The formula is thinking about the kindness of beings, since generation of loving-kindness depends on the remembrance of the kindness of beings’.”

– Tulku Thondup

Having worked with the various individual categories, we are ready to move on to the category of All Beings.  The overall intention here is to offer our practice for the benefit of all beings without exception.  This expansion allows us an opportunity to move beyond separateness and creates a place for us to connect with all that is.  It is here that we plant the seeds for the foundation of a deeper spiritual awakening.  As we acknowledge the interconnectedness of all things through our practice, we begin to embody this awareness in all of our experiences.

Initially, it can be difficult to work with the vastness of All Beings. This category can include All Beings but can also be for specific groups of beings, such as all animals, all children, all of our sangha (spiritual community), etc.  Today, we will explore expanding our practice out from a single being to groups of beings and then to All Beings.  One of the difficulties that can emerge, in working with All Beings, in addition to the challenge of holding the image of a vast group, is that we can have mixed feeling about all beings.  We do so by focusing on finding that kindness in all beings which is contained in the very essence of our being, our Buddha nature.  As in all the categories, this one takes us below the surface to the deeper essence of our existence.

Daily Practice: 

As always, we begin by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves.  Find a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness. Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I be free from danger.
  • May I have mental happiness.
  • May I have physical happiness.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready, choose a small group at first, perhaps your family, a group of friends or a smaller community you are part of.  Envision holding this group of beings in loving-kindness and compassion.  You might like to imagine they are in a circle receiving loving-kindness.  Begin to offer phrases for your group.  You can choose whether you would like to include yourself in the group:

  • May you/we be free from danger.
  • May you/we have mental happiness.
  • May you/we have physical happiness.
  • May you/we have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready to move on to the next group, come back to your heart center for a few moments and repeat a round of phrases for yourself.  Next, begin to offer loving-kindness to our virtual sangha, the May is for Metta community.  Know there are people all around the globe participating in various ways.  Some of these include the United States, Singapore, India, the Netherlands, Spain, Australia, Germany, Canada, France, Malaysia, South Africa, Greece, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Mauritius, the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Belgium, Korea and more.  Just imagine if you can that we are all sitting together in a circle or see us spread out like lights of loving-kindness all around the world.  Begin to offer the phrases for our group knowing that as you do we are shining the light of loving-kindness and compassion around the world.

  • May we be free from danger.
  • May we have mental happiness.
  • May we have physical happiness.
  • May we have ease of well-being.

As always, if your mind wanders, just notice and return to the phrases.  If you continue to struggle or difficult emotions arise, return your practice to your self until your feel more settled.  When you feel ready, once again offer the phrases for our group.  Remember to be gentle with yourself as we expand our practice out to larger groups of beings.  Sometimes it is more challenging to hold our focus and awareness on a larger group.  When you feel ready to move on, center yourself in your heart once again.  Connect with the loving-kindness within.  And begin to repeat the phrases for All Beings:

  • May all beings be free from danger.
  • May all beings have mental happiness.
  • May all beings have physical happiness.
  • May all beings have ease of well-being.

If at any point you need to, return the practice to yourself, or perhaps choose a smaller group, such as all animals or all children.  We will explore working with the category of All Beings in a variety of ways as we proceed with our practice, so be gentle as we begin.  When you feel complete with your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in loving-kindness and compassion that you have been cultivating.  Allow that feeling to sink in to you, let every atom and cell of your being to absorb the energy of loving-kindness.

Take a few moments to dedicate the merit of your practice for all beings.  Consider all of the beings you have practiced for today and offer the merit of your practice for their benefit.  Know that as you offer up the merit of your practice, you are not giving it away or losing it but you are actually generating more merit through the act of giving.

Daily Journal Reflection:

What did you notice about expanding your Metta practice to multiple beings, groups and All Beings? Was it harder or easier than other categories?  Are you remembering to be gentle and loving with yourself?  Have you explored using Metta as difficult feeling arise as throughout your day?

May we have a day filled with peace, harmony and beauty.

Namaste.

Beth