“One word for kind-heartedness and compassion in the Pali language is anukampa, which means being involved in response to others, having a tender mind and an open heart.” – Sharon Salzberg
Today, we begin to extend our practice of Metta, Loving-kindness out to another. We continue to start by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for our own self, as this is the foundation for offering it to others. Then, we begin by offering Metta to someone who has been a help to us in our life. Traditionally, this being is referred to as the Benefactor or Mentor. This is someone who has been generous and kind to us. They have taught us, supported us and inspired us in some way. When we think of them, we feel loved and supported and we have great gratitude for them. The thought of this being should naturally put a smile on your face. Some may choose a beloved teacher, mentor or grandparent, others a pet or a child and some may choose something you love in nature. In the beginning of Metta practice, it is suggested to work with a benefactor who is living as this helps to deepen our level of concentration.
Daily Practice – Do your foundational practices. Begin by getting comfortable and settling in to your breath. Spend a few moments centering on your heart, recalling a moment you felt immersed in unconditional love or see yourself in the center of your circle of loving beings. By now, you have developed a sense of how to connect with loving-kindness. Allow your self to feel enveloped in this love. Begin to send Metta to yourself by repeating the phrases you have been working with. As you move onto the Benefactor/Mentor today, notice how your feel about the phrases you have chosen. Do want to adjust them as you begin to work with others or continue with the phrases you have been working with for yourself?
When you feel centered in loving-kindness, call upon the image of the being that you will work with as Benefactor/Mentor for today. Invite an image or a feeling of them into your mind and let yourself feel what it feels like to be in the presence of that being. Really allow yourself to enjoy the feeling of being with that person. Remember, this is someone whose image makes you instantly smile. Begin by saying to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, may you be happy and free from suffering.” Then, begin repeating the phrases for your benefactor softly and gently:
- May you be happy.
- May you be peaceful.
- May you be free of suffering.
- May you have ease of well-being.
If you notice your mind has wandered, return to the phrases and the image of your benefactor. Continue practicing for your Benefactor/Mentor for as long as you wish. Also, remember, if at any point you are having difficulty, you can always return your practice to yourself for a time and then return your attention back to your Benefactor/Mentor. When you feel you have completed working with your Benefactor/Mentor, return to the image of sitting in your circle loving beings or to your heart center. Allow the feeling of loving-kindness to really sink into you, into every atom and cell of your being. Let it surround and envelope you. As you open you eyes, returning to your daily life and the world, let this feeling come with you.
Journal Notes – How did it feel to begin to practice Metta for another being? Did it seem easier or harder than practicing for your self? How is your practice going? Are there any obstacles you are becoming aware of? Are you remembering to return your practice to yourself when you are having difficult emotions arise or have difficulty concentrating? Are you able to bring your practice into your daily life in some way?
May your day be filled with happiness, love and equanimity.