Love has befriended Hafiz so completely
It has turned to ash and freed me
Of every concept and image
My mind has ever known. – Hafiz
One of the main intentions of The Heart Of Awakening Blog is to create a space of exploration for the embodiment of awareness, authenticity and purpose. Meditation is one of the most powerful vehicles for accessing our true nature and beginning to know and accept ourselves on a deeper level. This includes cultivating an experience of our true essence while at the same time we begin to consciously recognize and uncover misperceptions about who we truly are. As the Dalia Lama has said so pointedly,
“The process by which we transform our more instinctual attitude to life, that state of mind which seeks only to satisfy desire and avoid discomforts, is what we mean when we use the word meditation. It is the technique by which we diminish the force of old thought habits and develop new ones.” – H.H. Dalai Lama
Often, one of the challenges that arises in meditation practice is the awareness that begins to surface of our inner voices and the busyness of our mind. This is often referred to as “monkey mind”. Although, the mind may just seem to wander aimlessly, as we begin to notice it, we gain awareness in how it wanders and it what is actually arising. This can offer a potent opportunity to begin to examine and transform our critical voices – the ones that keep us stuck, wounded and powerless.
Transforming The Inner Critic Into The Inner Cheerleader is one of the threads I have been working with a lot this year in my personal work, classes & workshops and here on The Heart Of Awakening blog. I have found that Metta meditation is a natural method for uncovering our critical voices and beginning to transform them. As we cultivate the energy of loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves, it is natural to come face to face with those places within that we are not holding those energies or qualities. This is often the territory of the inner critic or negative self-perception.
I wanted to share this now as one of the ways of working with May Is For Metta can be as catalyst to transform your inner critic. Most likely, this will happen naturally as you practice, however, you may like to work with this in a more activec way. Some suggestions for this aspect of practice are:
1) Journal about the critical voices or messages that you notice coming up as you practice or that prevent you from actually doing your practice. You may like to list them, name them or even draw pictures of what they might look like to you. This can really help to shine the light on these voices, which can tend to live in the dark recesses of the mind.
2) When you are feeling critical voices arising, whether during your practice or as you go about your day, begin to offer Metta to yourself. Do your foundational practice and offer the phrases to yourself and notice what happens, how you feel and how the voices shift or change. Beginning to bring in loving-kindness in place of negative or critical voices is a powerful gift to offer yourself.
3) Another interesting way to work with negative or critical voices is to shift your natural response to them. Rather than trying to push them away, begin to work with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion and embrace or envelope these voices. You may even like to hold them in the center of your circle of loving beings. This may seem like an odd thing to do, however, these voices have served some purpose in your life, perhaps some form of protection or security. At this point, they may no longer be serving you but why not transform them with love rather than anger or hatred.
Today will be our last day of focusing solely on ourselves as our practice. Tomorrow we will begin to bring in another category for practice – The Benefactor. So for today, continue to explore as you have been doing, cultivating your foundation for loving-kindness and compassion by offering it to yourself. If you feel to at this point or later on, consider bringing in Metta when you become aware of critical or negative voices as you go about your day.
Daily Practice – Do the foundational practices. Begin by getting comfortable and settling into your breath. Spend a few moments centering on your heart. Imagine yourself sitting in a circle surrounded by loving beings. They may be ones you actually know or those who you imagine embody love. Allow your self to feel enveloped in this love. Also, at this point, I recommend finding the way that works best for you – some folks really resonate with the circle of loving beings, others do better by connecting directly with the heart or with one specific memory of being held in unconditional love.
Part of the foundational practice is finding how you can best generate the feeling of loving-kindness and compassion at the beginning of your practice. Each person is different and part of being loving with yourself is taking the time to find which practice and way of practice best supports your journey. After our month of practice, you may find that Metta is not the daily practice for you and you can move on to exploring other practices. For now, Metta is the vehicle for getting to know yourself better and moving into a more loving way of being with yourself, others and ultimately the whole world.
Once you have generated a deep sense of loving-kindness. Begin to send Metta to yourself by using the phrases you have chosen to work with.
- May I be safe.
- May I be happy.
- May I be peaceful.
- May I be free from suffering.
If you notice your mind has wandered, return to the next phrase or begin again. Also, you can always reconnect with your heart center or your circle of loving beings if difficult feelings arise. Practice for as long as you have committed to or as much as you can for today.
Journal Notes – Are you noticing difficult feelings arising as you practice? Are you feeling more of your vulnerability or tender heartedness? Are you able to be patient with yourself and your practice? Are you practicing? Are you journaling? When difficulty feelings, critical voices or limiting beliefs arise, it can be a powerful tool to write them down and a good way to explore where your inner work lies. Have you explored bringing in Metta practice as you become aware of your critical voices?
Wishing all of you a peaceful and happy day.