To the Great Spirit –
First in all things, Creator of all Life,
Who was, and is, and will always be;
Who, within the immensity of all creation,
Is uniquely present here and now, in this moment.
To the East –
The quiet coming of the new dawn,
The joyous breaking forth of Spring,
The place of birth and rebirth and the beginning of life;
To the South –
The high heat of noonday,
The flowering warmth of Summer
The place of fertility and the fullness of life;
To the West –
The quiet peace of evening,
The changing colors of Fall,
The place of harvest and the gathering of life;
To the North –
The clear darkness of night,
The deep cold of Winter,
The place of death and purification
and the transformation of life;
To the Mother Earth –
The ever constant Giver of Life,
From whom all things draw sustenance;
Who, in the greatness of her family,
Offers blessing and freedom to each of her children;
To the Six Directions –
Together making the oneness of God and Creation,
We offer praise and thanksgiving,
We ask these things:
A heart open and made strong with love,
A mind clear and made wise with understanding,
A life lived with courage and compassion
in the fulfillment of Divine Purpose. – Sioux Prayer
Metta practice allows us to do what we can to be loving and happy no matter what is happening in our lives, in the world and regardless of how people respond to us. In each moment, we have a choice. By focusing our attention on the heart, on loving-kindness, we are choosing to be open to ourselves and to the world. It is not about the outside. It is about our own experience and the attitude which we cultivate toward that experience. Each moment that we choose loving-kindness allows us to be more receptive and to create a place of peace where we might have felt discomfort. We when we do Metta, rather than contracting our energy, we are expanding it. We are supporting our own journey of awakening to the truth of who we are. We are moving from a place of separateness to an experience of Oneness. And, we are bringing that awareness to others and the world.
Take some time today to honor yourself for the time and energy you have dedicated to becoming more conscious and awake. You have offered yourself the blessing of loving-kindness and compassion and there is really no greater gift that you can give to yourself, others and the world.
Today, we will continue with the full practice, working with all of the categories. I have also included a new way to practice for All Beings that I learned from one of my teachers. This practice works with sending loving-kindness out to all directions and for me feels similar to the way I honor the directions as part of my shamanic work. In many indigenous cultures, praying or calling in the directions is a way to begin the day or create sacred space. The Sioux prayer above is an example of this. Combining our Metta practice with the directions can be a wonderful way to expand the energy of loving-kindness and compassion that we have been cultivating and supports feeling a greater sense of connection to all creation.
If for any reason doing the full practice feels too much or is an obstacle to your practice, then just choose a few categories to work with. At this point, how you practice each day is your choice. You may have awareness of a certain category you need to practice for; you may wish to do the full practice daily for a period of time. Just explore and let your practice unfold. Begin your practice by setting an intention in a way that feels right for you. Recognize that you are practicing, not only for yourself; the cultivation of loving-kindness is beneficial for all beings and for the world.
Daily Practice: Do you foundational practices. Find a quiet place and a comfortable position. Imagine yourself in a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness, in a time when you felt held in that way. As you do so, acknowledge that you are practicing, not only for yourself; the cultivation of loving-kindness is beneficial for all beings and for the world. 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.
When you feel ready, move on to practicing for all of the categories or the ones you have chosen for today. Use the phrases that feel best to you.
- May you be happy.
- May you be peaceful.
- May you be free from suffering.
- May you have ease of well-being.
As you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns. When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off or if you feel to move onto the next category.
There are a number of ways to radiate to all beings. One of these is to work with the directions. We radiate to all beings in 10 different directions, repeating the Metta phrases for each. We can also adapt this to a specific category of all beings such as all creatures or all children. Working with the directions is a way to connect spatially with all beings and the world. It offers an opportunity to move beyond ourselves not just in thoughts but in space as well. This aspect of practice can bring us into deeper connection with the world in which we live. As you practice today, I encourage you to allow yourself to really feel the world which you are a part of as you explore incorporating the directions into your practice of All Beings. You can use the phrases below or adapt them to the phrases you have chosen to work with; it’s up to you
1. May all beings in the eastern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.
2. May all beings in the western direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.
3. May all beings in the northern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.
4. May all beings in the southern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.
5. May all beings in the northeastern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.
6. May all beings in the southwestern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.
7. May all beings in the northwestern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.
8. May all beings in the southeastern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.
9. May all beings below (in the downward direction) be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.
10. May all beings above (in the upward direction) be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.
To complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion that you have been cultivating. Breathe in that feeling of connection; embrace your connection with all of the directions and all beings. Allow that feeling of connection to sink in to you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with a sense of connection infused with loving-kindness and compassion.
Journal Notes: How does it feel to have spent so much time focusing on loving-kindness and compassion? How did it feel to work with the directions? Did you notice anything about your connection to all beings? to the world? How are you feeling about your practice overall? Have you made a plan to continue with Metta? What does that look like? Or is there another type of practice you would like to explore? Are you continuing to be gentle and loving with yourself? If not, are you doing enough Metta for yourself?
I honor each of you for deepening into loving-kindness and compassion.