Take Your Metta To Work Week
An Exploration in Bringing Loving-kindness Practice to the World of Work
Today we will continue our exploration of bringing our Metta practice with us as we go to work, school or are out in our communities. Again, although we are participating together in this exploration, this is your personal journey; so make it work for you. If you work from home or are self-employed, consider using your clients or organizations you are connected to for your practice. If you are retired, perhaps you volunteer for an organization or are involved in a spiritual community. If you are an at home parent, consider doing your practice for your family or your children’s school. One of the gifts of Metta meditation is that it offers an opportunity to work with our direct experience and to customize our practice to what is arising in our lives.
Meditation practice fosters greater awareness and presence in the moment. When we are working or moving through our day, stresses or situations arise that take us out of our center. Having a practice that we incorporate into our day-to-day experiences offers a resource for staying more awake and conscious. It provides a vehicle to work with our thoughts, feelings and emotions as they arise, in the moment, rather than carrying them around with us. This allows us to bring our whole self into our work, relationships and interactions instead of having a part of us distracted or drifting off somewhere else. How often do feel you have difficulty focusing at work, at school or at a meeting?
In meditation, each time we return to our anchor, which can be the breath, a mantra or our awareness itself, we become more present. It allows us to bring more of ourselves into our direct experience. In Metta meditation, the energy of loving-kindness and compassion is our anchor as well as the phrases that we repeat. This supports moving into a heart-centered place as we go about our day. In a sense, this softens some of the armor we tend to carry within us and around us as we are out in the world.
Work is somewhere where traditionally our armor has been necessary and difficult to let go of. Even when we have the desire or work in an organization that is more open, we have been programmed to shut down parts of ourselves at work. However, when we allow our authentic self to be more available, we have so much more to offer. We are more present, alert, engaged and responsive. We can move through our workday with greater ease and enjoyment. This is important for individuals and for the overall experience within an organization. As each person experiences greater ease of well-being, the dynamics within an organization improve and become more balanced.
We will continue our practice from yesterday by beginning with offering Metta for ourselves as the foundation of our practice. We will also practice for our whole organization or an aspect of it, such as a department or team. Today, we will add the category Benefactor/Mentor. This part of the practice can be integrated into your daily experience, or done as a part of your sitting practice. Find what works for you. If you don’t have time to practice in the morning, you can also, take some time in the evening to do your practice and use it to work with what has come up during the day. Practicing before going to bed offers a vehicle to transform your thoughts and feelings. Imagine letting go of your stresses and worries so you can have a peaceful night sleep.
Daily Practice: Do your foundational practices. Find a comfortable position. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness. Connect with your own heart center and begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:
- May I be happy.
- May I be peaceful.
- May I be free of suffering.
- May I have ease of well-being.
Even if you did your practice at home, take a few moments as you arrive at work to center yourself in the heart and repeat a round of two or phrases for yourself. As you go about your day, do this a few times. If you experience stress or difficult emotions, explore using your foundational practices – imagine your circle of loving beings surrounding you, connect with your heart center or repeat some phrases for yourself for a few moments. Explore bringing this practice into your day, perhaps a few times and definitely when you are feeling stressed, unable to focus or are having difficult feelings arise. Coming back to your heart and offering loving-kindness in a moment when you feel frustrated, opens the door to greater self-acceptance.
Whenever you are ready to practice for another person or your organization, just take a moment to center yourself in your heart, imagine being in your circle of loving beings and offer a round of phrases for yourself. In a sense, this is an abridged foundational practice that we can use when we are taking our Metta to work or daily life. Even when we have less time to practice, it is important to create that foundation of loving-kindness within ourselves and connect with energy of compassion before we offer it to others.
When practicing for your whole organization, you might like to set a specific time. It can be part of your daily sitting practice if you have one or you can do it as you arrive at work or even at the end of your day. Explore what works for you. If you notice there is tension or stress within the organization, this can be a good time to bring in your practice. When you are ready, begin to offer Metta for your whole organization or whatever group you have chosen. Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so do all beings within my organization.” Begin to offer the phrases remembering that you, too, are a part of this organization:
- May we be happy.
- May we be peaceful.
- May we be free of suffering.
- May we have ease of well-being.
Practice for as long as you feel to or as long as you have time. Even a few moments are beneficial. Again, it can be something you do a few times throughout your day or when the need arises.
At some point, take some time to practice for a Benefactor/Mentor. This is someone who has really helped you along your way. You have very positive feelings for this person. Perhaps they are someone within your organization who has mentored you, someone from a previous job or a teacher who really taught you a lot. It can also be more personal, someone in your life who really has supported you, such as a grandparent or parent. Do your foundational practice and say, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so do this being wish to have peace and happiness”. Begin to offer phrases for your Benefactor/Mentor
- May you be happy.
- May you be peaceful.
- May you be free of suffering.
- May you have ease of well-being.
Practice for as long as you feel to or as long as you have time. As part of our exploration with Metta at work, you might like to consider several people whom you consider Benefactors or Mentors and practice for them. In a sense, this is a way to express your gratitude on a deeper level.
As always, if at any time you have difficulty staying present or are struggling with difficult feelings, you can return your practice to yourself. This includes when you are doing the practice or in general when you notice you are struggling in some way and are unable to stay present. Taking a moment to offer Metta for yourself brings you fully back into the present moment. Explore this as you go about your day. If you are practicing for others, when you feel centered in loving-kindness once again, then you are ready to return to offering the phrases for them.
Practice for as long as you feel to or as long as time allows. As we are bringing more of this practice into our daily experience and you are continuing to return to your heart center in a more active way, you may not need to come back to yourself each time that you practice for others. This is something to explore and find what feels good to you. If you are continuing a sitting practice, then take a few moments as you finish to connect with the loving-kindness within your self.
As we are taking our practice into the day, you may wish to wait until evening to take some time to reflect on and dedicate the merit of your practice. As you do so, you can consider all of the beings you have practiced for today and ask that this practice benefit them and all beings. Also, ask that our organizations benefit from this practice and become more heart centered. Do this in a way that feels appropriate for you. It can be incorporated into your own practice of meditation, prayer or reflection.
Journal Notes: How does it feel to continue your exploration of bringing Metta to work? How does it feel to do Metta for your organization? How does it feel to offer Metta for Benefactor/Mentor? Did you have difficult feelings or emotions arise during your day? Did you take some time to return to your heart center and offer Metta? How does it feel to consider being more loving and compassionate at work?
May you be happy.
May you be peaceful.
May you be free of suffering.
May you have ease of well-being.