“We all carry within us our places of exile; our crimes, our ravages. Our task is not to unleash them on the world; it is to transform them in ourselves and others.” – Albert Camus
Today is the last day of practicing Metta solely for ourselves as part of this practice. Today is the day to really embrace the loving-kindness and compassion you have been working to cultivate for your self. The energy and quality you have been generating will be the foundation on which you enter into to extend those qualities to others and the world. And, remember that a big part of the practice is coming back to yourself when you are struggling with difficult feelings or having trouble connecting with a certain category. This heart centered place, your circle of loving beings and repeating the phrases for yourself is the center to return to for connection and renewal both in your practice and in your daily life.
There are four essential ingredients in the practice of Metta. They are positive images, positive words, feelings of loving-kindness and trusting in love. Trust involves trusting in the power of the images, words and feelings of loving-kindness and allows our loving-kindness meditation to be more effective. Trust that you have done the work to connect with these four essentials and have the skills necessary to be an embodiment of loving-kindness in the world.
Daily Practice – Do the foundational practices. Begin by getting comfortable and settling into your breath. Spend a few moments centering on your heart. Imagine yourself sitting in a circle surrounded by loving beings. They may be ones you actually know or those who you imagine are loving. Allow your self to feel enveloped in this love. Hopefully, by now it is getting easier to connect with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion. It is possible there will be some days it is easier than others and some days you struggle more with your practice. That’s okay. Just notice and be with what is arising. Those more difficult days are great days to journal about what you are experiencing.
Once you have generated a deep feeling of loving-kindness, then begin to send Metta to yourself by using the phrases you have chosen to work with. Notice your pace, is if too fast? Do you need to slow it down? Remember you are giving yourself a gift as you offer each of the phrase to yourself.
- May you be safe.
- May you be happy.
- May you be peaceful.
- May you be free from suffering.
If you notice your mind has wandered, return to the next phrase or begin again. Also, you can always reconnect with your heart center or your circle of loving beings if difficult feelings arise. Practice for as long as you have committed to or as much as you can for today.
Optional Practice – Today, as an option to sitting practice or an additional practice, I invite you to explore Walking Metta. Walking meditation is a wonderful way to take your practice off the cushion, to experience greater awareness with movement and to take your Metta into the world. We will explore this more when we work with the different categories, but for today, just explore doing Walking Metta for yourself. You can do it as a formal practice or as you are going about your day.
Begin by standing still for a few moments and allow your attention to move into your body. Be aware of your standing position and really feel your body. Take a moment standing to generate the feeling of loving-kindness and compassion in whatever way you feel to. You might like to imagine your circle of loving beings walking with you, surrounding you as you move about in the world. When you feel ready, begin walking and stay present with your body as it moves; feel the ground under your feet. Notice your pace, do you need to slow it down to be more present?
When you feel ready, begin repeating the phrases to yourself. You can synchronize repeating the phrases with your steps. One phrase for stepping right, one for stepping left and so on. Or you can just let them have their own rhythm. Just as in sitting meditation, if your mind wanders or difficult feelings arise, just notice, and gently come back to your practice. Connect with the feeling of loving-kindness and continue repeating the phrases as you walk. Notice how it feels to bring loving-kindness to your walking and movement to your meditation.
Journal Notes – How has it felt to dedicate a whole week of your life to cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for yourself? Are you experiencing a deeper feeling of loving-kindness? Do you feel you need to work on connecting with the feeling or quality more? Are you able to be patient with yourself and your practice? If you haven’t done journal notes thus far, now is a great time to reflect on the whole week of practicing Metta for yourself. Did you try Walking Metta? If so, how did it feel to practice in this way? Is there something special or loving you can do today to honor yourself for being present in this way?
May you have a peaceful and happy day!