“Loving-kindness meditation accords with zen’s Bodhisattva vow, in confirming that our awakening is mutually grounded in the interdependence of all beings, rather than being a self-centered endeavor. Loving-kindness is sometimes misconstrued as an attempt to conjure up good feelings, or to see ourselves as loving or kind. However, its function is to invite the awakening of compassion and empathy, aspects of our being.” -Elizabeth Hamilton
Today, we will continue our practice of Metta for Neutral beings. As the neutral person is not so “real’ to us, it is often harder to elicit feelings for this person. For this reason, it can be helpful to work with the same neutral person for a few days. Sometimes, people feel bored with this category, as there is not as much emotional charge as with a friend or enemy. It may be harder to hold one’s attention on the neutral person. Staying attentive can be a challenge in Metta as well as during meditation practice in general. However, we are working to focus our awareness. This practice offers a wonderful opportunity to stay present with our experience, bringing our attention and consciousness to a place where we may often be inattentive and unconscious.
Choose two or three Neutral beings to work with. You may do this as part of a sitting practice and/or explore using Metta when you are out and about in the world. When you are on the street, in the store, or at the gym, try choosing a Neutral person you see and silently say the phrases for this person. This is an opportunity to offer loving-kindness and support to someone without needing to take outward action. It is an inner offering and it is a way we can bring more loving-kindness and compassion into the world.
Daily Practice: Do your foundational practices. Begin to cultivate loving-kindness for yourself by connecting with your heart or imagining yourself in your circle of loving beings. Send Metta to yourself by using the phrases you have been working with:
- May I be happy.
- May I be peaceful.
- May I be free of suffering.
- May I have ease of well-being.
When you feel immersed in the energy of loving-kindness for yourself, bring the image of a Neutral person into your awareness. Once you have called this person to mind, allow yourself to make a heart connection with this person. Perhaps send some of the loving-kindness you have cultivated from your heart to their heart center. Notice how it feels to offer loving-kindness to a Neutral being. Say inwardly, “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 this Neutral person:
- May you be happy.
- May you be peaceful.
- May you be free of suffering.
- May you have ease of well-being.
Just notice what arises as you practice. If your mind wanders or thoughts arise, bring your awareness back to the neutral person and continue repeating the phrases. As always, if difficult emotions or distractions dominate your attention, return to your heart center, repeating the phrases for yourself until you feel clearer and calmer. When you feel to, return your practice to the neutral person. Continue on to one or two other Neutral beings. Remember you can also take your practice with you as you go about your day.
Practice as long as you feel to or have committed to for today. When you feel complete, return to your heart center. Spend a few moments reflecting on your practice. Notice how it felt to connect with Neutral beings that you have active relationship to offer loving-kindness. Part of our practice is experiencing the relationship that we have with all beings; this is part of being human, being alive and living on Earth at this time. We share a common experience whether we know each other or not. Metta offers an opportunity to acknowledge and honor our interconnectedness with all beings on a deeper and more conscious level.
Journal Notes: How has it been to practice Metta for Neutral beings? Did you practice for someone as you went about your day? Are you continuing to be gentle and loving with yourself? Have you noticed any difference in your sense of connection to self, others and the world since you began your Metta practice?
May you have a joyful day.