“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of our love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – The Buddha
Our relationship with ourselves is the foundation for all of our relationships – with others, with nature and with the world. Our cultivation of love, acceptance and good heartedness towards ourselves will facilitate our ability to offer Metta to others in a genuine way. It is essential that we do not neglect this aspect of practice and it is why we are moving slowly with Metta. For many of us, our nature is to move fast, to get to the point of it all. Often, in moving that way, we miss the essence of what we are working to cultivate. One of the major lessons of the heart, which I have learned from many of my teachers, is the need to slow down to move into the heart space. The mind moves quickly, the heart moves slowly; it is accessed through stillness.
Today, we will begin using the Metta phrases in our practice; we will continue to focus on loving ourselves. Some of us may not be used to spending so much time on ourselves in this way; we come up against our resistance, our judgments, and all of the ways we hold our mistakes and shortcomings against us. We may even doubt the value of dedicating time and effort to this practice; we may feel we don’t deserve this love. And yet, our goal is to love ourselves completely, which includes all the things we may not like about ourselves. So, remember to be gentle with yourself. When a new shoot emerges from the ground, it needs to break through; there is effort involved. You are creating a new way of being; it requires effort and even some discomfort. Consider this like you are starting a new workout program, wouldn’t you expect to feel sore or out of shape at the beginning? Wouldn’t you have some resistance and not really want to show up? I am hoping you will show up in some way and just notice what is arising. Even a short workout, can be beneficial!
Take some time today to decide how you will begin your practice. From this point forward, we will begin with the new daily practice. Coming to your place of practice, moving into your meditation posture, working with your breath, beginning to connect with the heart center and connecting with your circle of loving beings will be the foundation for each daily practice. You can decide how you wish to begin your Metta practice and also, this may become your foundation for all of your meditation practice. It is up to you which aspects are most important; it is about finding ways to begin that bring you into the moment and help to center you in the energy of loving-kindness. It can be beneficial if you come to your practice the same way each day, but there is room to take time and explore what works for you. Review the practices for Day 1 and Day 2 if you feel to, especially if you are just joining in. In future posts, I will refer to this as doing your foundational practice, unless I am going to add to it or work with it in a new way. You may wish to read over the daily post before doing your foundational practice and then move onto the day’s practice.
There are a variety of Metta phrases and you will see different ones as you begin to explore. It is good to find 3 – 4 phrases that you feel resonant with. In developing a meditation practice, it can be beneficial to find a practice that you are resonant with as this can help with some of the overall resistance to practicing; similarly, it helps to find phrases you are comfortable with. Feel free to explore with different phrases, especially during the first week of practice to find what feels best for you. Here are some suggestions. I have grouped them together but you can mix and match 3 or 4, as you feel called to.
- May I be free from danger.
- May I have physical happiness.
- May I have mental happiness.
- May I have ease of well-being.
- May I be happy.
- May I be peaceful.
- May I be free of suffering.
- May I have ease of well-being.
- May I be happy and peaceful.
- May I be healthy and strong.
- May I care for myself, joyfully.
- May I be safe from inner and outer harm.
- May I be safe from internal and external harm.
- May I have a calm, clear mind and a peaceful loving heart.
- May I be physically strong, healthy and vital.
- May I experience love, joy, wonder and wisdom in this life just as it is.
- May I be happy.
- May I be at peace.
- May I live with ease.
- May I be free from suffering.
The purpose of the phrases is two-fold. One, they are the catalyst for cultivating loving-kindness and compassion and for showering ourselves with those qualities. Two, they are the anchor for this practice. They are the center that we come back to when our mind wanders or we get distracted. So, when the mind wanders, as it will, as it is the nature of the mind, we just gently and lovingly bring ourselves back to the next phrase. If we find we have totally wandered off, we begin with the next set of phrases.
The phrases are repeated silently to oneself. Sometimes, they are repeated aloud and we will explore this later on, but for now, let’s repeat them silently. You can repeat one phrase per breath, alternate one on the inhale and one on the exhale, or find a rhythm that feels good to you. Also, you don’t necessarily have to focus on the breath at all; you can just focus on the phrases, especially for now. Let the meaning of the phrase gently wash over you. You are affirming to yourself and to the universe that you desire to be safe, happy and peaceful. If at any point you feel disconnected from the energy of loving-kindness, you can always go back to your heart center and your circle of loving beings. This is the foundation of your practice; the phrases symbolize Metta but generating the essence of loving-kindness is the true practice. Spend as much as time as you have dedicated to your practice.
Journal Notes: How did it feel to work with the phrases? Were they a good anchor for your practice? Did you notice your mind was less busy using the phrases? Were you able to stay connected to the energy of loving-kindness as you repeated the phrases? Did you practice in the way you intended to today? If you did not practice in the way you intended to, are you still being gentle and loving with yourself? How does it feel to be cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for your self? Did you notice any ways your resist loving yourself?
Wishing you all a wonderful practice and a happy day!