“During the Buddha’s last months, he always taught, “Take refuge in yourselves, not in anything else. In you are Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Don’t look for things that are far away. Everything is in your own heart. Be an island unto yourself.” Whenever you feel confused, angry or lost, if you practice mindful breathing and return to your island of self, you will be in a safe place filled with warm sunlight, cool shade trees, and beautiful birds and flowers.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Everything is in your own heart. Creating that safe and peaceful place is something that needs to happen from the inside out. We cannot hope to find peace in the world unless we have peace within our own self. Today is one more day to practice Metta for your self. For those who are having trouble making the time to practice or are struggling with the practice itself, I encourage to spend some time just being present with the feeling of loving-kindness and compassion. Connect with your heart center. Call upon your circle of loving beings. Do this as often as you can remember to as you go about your day. Part of this journey is learning that although formal practice benefits us in many ways, what we are really working towards is carrying this quality and more conscious awareness with us wherever we go. But, I hope you will try to take even a moment or two to sit and practice. This helps to create a new pattern. Consistency is something that is needed for the heart to open and for loving-kindness to deepen.
Daily Practice – Do your foundational practices. This can include other practices that you work with if Metta is an addition to your regular meditation practice. Begin in the same way. Get settled in a comfortable position, spend a few minutes just being present with breath, let any tensions of mind and body melt away with the breath and begin to cultivate that feeling or quality of loving-kindness and compassion. Also, get really comfortable in creating and working with your Circle of Loving Beings. This is a powerful support to generate loving-kindness that you can call upon in any moment or any situation. Once you develop this foundation, it is easier to call upon the energy of loving-kindness and compassion as you move about in the world. There may be some days it is easier to do this and others that are more difficult; that’s okay. Just notice and remember to be gentle and loving with yourself no matter how your practice goes.
When you feel immersed in the qualities of loving-kindness and compassion, then, move onto the phrases. Continue with the same phrases as yesterday or try some others for today. This is still a time for exploration. As we move on to the next category, it may benefit you to work with the same phrases for the rest of the practice. I tend to work with these phrases most of the time.
- May I be happy.
- May I be peaceful.
- May I be free from suffering.
- May I have ease of well-being.
Journal Notes – Have you found phrases you are comfortable working with? Do the phrases help to create more of anchor for your mind? Have you been able to find some way to practice daily or at least explore cultivating more loving-kindness toward yourself? What can you do over the weekend that would be really loving for yourself?
Most of all take some time to really honor yourself for the efforts you are making to be more conscious, loving and compassionate. In whatever way you are practicing, you are moving into greater self-love and understanding. Congratulations.
Thank you for sharing this special journey with all of us.
Have a beautiful and peace-filled day.
Extra Credit – Watch this video of Louise Hay on Loving Yourself. There are two practices she shares in the video, which I have found incredibly valuable for cultivating self-love. One is the affirmation, “I love and approve of myself”. The other is mirror work; looking at yourself in the mirror and reciting that affirmation or any other positive messages you wish to offer yourself. You can even incorporate your Metta phrases with this practice if it feels good to you. I encourage you to play with these two techniques as you feel to. Although they are not an official part of the practice, they really support the process of deepening one’s own loving-kindness and compassion. Coming face to face with your self in this way is an incredible heart opening experience.