“How and why we love change the qualities of our love. Love with loving-kindness transforms love into the nectar of wisdom. Love with attachment transforms the love into poison, into a state of afflicting emotions. Therefore, we must recognize the characteristics of the love that is loving-kindness and learn how to generate it in ourselves.” ~ Tulku Thondup
It is taught that there are four essential ingredients in the practice of Metta. They are as follows:
- positive images
- positive words
- feelings of loving-kindness
- trusting in love
Trust involves all of aspects as it includes trusting in the power of the images, words and the feelings of loving-kindness. Trusting in love allows our loving-kindness meditation to be most effective. And, as we have discussed this can sometimes go against our grain. For some of us, trusting in love is not what we learned to do as a child or adult; and yet as we begin to open to trust by loving ourselves, our whole word changes.
Today, we will continue our practice working with the Benefactor/Mentor. You may continue to practice with the same person you chose yesterday or you may explore working with another. If you are not sure with whom to work, just call a few possibilities into your mind. Imagine each being coming into your heart center, notice how you feel and try out the phrases on each one until you feel clear who you wish to work with for today. Allow your heart to guide you. This is a good way to learn the language of your heart.
Do your foundational practices. Begin by getting comfortable and settling in to your breath. Spend a few moments centering on your heart or imagining yourself sitting in your circle of loving beings. Really allow your self to feel enveloped in the energies of loving-kindness and compassion. Remember, creating a strong foundation is an important part of the practice; be careful not to neglect this as you begin to offer Metta to others. When you feel ready, begin to offer the Metta phrases you have been working with to yourself.
- May I be safe.
- May I be happy.
- May I be peaceful.
- May I be free from suffering.
Bring an image of the Benefactor/Mentor clearly into your mind and let yourself feel what it feels like to be in the presence of that being. Really allow yourself to enjoy the feeling of being with that person. This is someone who warms your heart just by thinking about them. Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, may you be happy and free from suffering.” Begin repeating the phrases for your Benefactor or Mentor:
- May you be safe.
- May you be happy.
- May you be peaceful.
- May you be free from suffering.
If you notice your mind has wandered, bring your attention back to the phrases and the image of your benefactor. As I touched on yesterday, another option if you are having a lot of distraction or difficult feelings coming up is to switch your practice back to yourself for a few moments; then when you feel more centered, return your attention to the Benefactor/Mentor. This is a way to become more loving with ourselves. We listen, we become more attentive and we respond to ourselves when we are having difficulty. And, we respond to ourselves with loving-kindness and compassion rather than harshness or criticism. This is an opportunity for a paradigm shift.
I encourage you to explore this practice of switching back and forth as you need to during your practice – do it as often as you feel to. You can also explore turning your attention to yourself, your heart center or imagining your circle of loving beings throughout your day when you have trouble staying present in the moment or when you are have difficult feelings arise. Those difficult moments during your day are the perfect opportunity to bring your Metta practice into your daily life.
Continue to practice for your Benefactor/Mentor for as long as you can or have committed to for your practice. Then, return your awareness to the image of sitting in your circle of loving beings or being present in your heart center. Allow that feeling to really sink into you, into every atom and cell of your being. Let it surround and envelope you. As you move out into your day, imagine yourself embodying loving-kindness and compassion with each step and each breath.
Daily Journal Reflection:
Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today. How does it feel to practice for a Benefactor/Mentor? Did you explore switching back to yourself? How is your practice going? Are you able to spend some time sitting everyday or have you decided to incorporate your practice in some other way? What are you learning about yourself? Are you being gentle and loving with your self as your practice or explore?
May you be happy.
May you be peaceful.
May you be free of suffering.
May you have ease of well-being today and everyday.