“We resonate with one another’s sorrows because we are interconnected. Being whole and simultaneously part of a larger whole, we can change the world simply by changing ourselves. If I become a center of love and kindness in this moment, then in a perhaps small but hardly insignificant way, the world now has a nucleus of love and kindness it lacked the moment before. This benefits me and it benefits others.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
As you continue your practice of Metta today, know that you are strengthening the energies of loving-kindness and compassion in the your self, others and the world.
Today we will move our practice of Metta to the category of a Beloved. This could be a family member or close friend. Beloveds are those we have built close relationship with, whom we trust and who we feel positive towards. Take a moment to select a few friends and feel into which one you feel most called to do the practice for today. Call up the image of each one, feel into your heart and say a round of phrases. Which one feels most resonant right now? This practice is helping you to choose but also helping you to experience more of what is in your heart and how to make choices that are in alignment with your heart. Learning to let your heart be your guide is a part of moving into a way of being. Once you have chosen, I will ask you to spend our three days on the Beloved working with the same person.
Daily Practice: Do your foundational practices. We begin again by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for our own self, as this is the foundation for offering it to others. Get comfortable and settle into your breath. Spend a few moments centering on your heart. Imagine yourself sitting in a circle surrounded by loving beings. Say a few rounds of phrases for your self.
When you feel centered in the energy of loving-kindness then bring an image of the Beloved you have chosen clearly into your mind. Let yourself feel what it feels like to be in the presence of that being. Allow yourself to enjoy being with that person. 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 Beloved:
- May he/she be safe.
- May he/she be happy.
- May he/she be peaceful.
- May he/she be free from suffering.
Find the language for the phrases that works best for you. You may wish to refer to other as YOU, talking to them directly, you may wish to use their NAME or you may wish to use the THIRD person, He or She. Explore this a bit and see what works for you.
Your practice for the Beloved may feel easy for you. Often, we are deepening the already good feelings we have for this person. However, sometimes difficult feelings may arise. You may feel anxiety or worry for your Beloved friend or family member. You may remember something upsetting that happened awhile ago and feel angry or annoyed. You may feel envious of some experience your Beloved is having, a happier relationship, a better job or a more carefree life. These are natural feelings to have as a human being. When these difficult emotions arise, just notice and gently return to the Metta phrases for your Beloved. Know it is the nature of the mind to take us to these places in ourselves; it is the practice of meditation to return to the present moment and to the place we choose to place our attention. Even when it’s challenging, this is the place of freedom, where we just are in the moment, where all of those thoughts, feelings and memories do not define us. Use the phrases to bring yourself back to the moment and to offering loving-kindness to your Beloved one.
If at any point, difficult emotions continue to dominate your attention, return to repeating the phrases for yourself as this is an important part of practicing loving-kindness – we work with all of who we are, the parts we like and the parts we don’t like. We are bringing to light those shadow parts that cause us so much pain and suffering. In response, we are not rejecting ourselves or judging ourselves, but we are accepting and loving ourselves unconditionally. This is one of the great gifts of Metta and one of the most powerful gifts we can offer to ourselves and to others.
Practice as long as you feel to or have committed to for today. Take a few moments at the end to dedicate the merit of your practice for all beings. You can do this in any way that feels appropriate to you.
- 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.
Journal Notes: How did it feel to practice Metta for a Beloved? Was it different from practicing for a Benefactor/Mentor? How is your practice going? Are you able to continue making some time everyday to sit or practice in some way? If not, what is stopping you? What is your commitment to yourself right now in terms of making time to bring more loving-kindness into your life? Remember, it can be anyway that works for your? Five minutes will do if that’s all you have. Research has shown that 15 minutes a day of Loving-kindness practice can create a positive shift in our overall attitude toward life.
May you experience a blessed and joyful day.