“Hatred can never cease by hatred.
Hatred can only cease by love.
This is an eternal law.”
Today, we will continue our practice of Metta for the category of a Difficult being. Consider someone who you have a deeper degree of difficulty with but not the most severe of challenges. Perhaps, there is an ongoing situation, which you cannot change outwardly. Maybe, yesterday or even today, you had an interaction that is causing you frustration, annoyance, or anger. Perhaps you are holding a long-term resentment toward someone and your mind is not able to let go.
Metta offers an opportunity to work with what is arising both in the moment and what is an ongoing thread in our life experience. We can utilize our practice to assist in transforming our attitude from the negative to the positive whenever we choose to. If you find that you struggle sending loving-kindness to your Difficult person, you may wish to imagine them as vulnerable. Perhaps as a helpless infant or someone who is on their death-bed. Allow yourself to feel their fragility rather than their harshness, which is a trigger for you. Allow yourself to feel this being’s humanness.
Depending on the person or situation, this may be hard to do, but remember that in some way they are suffering, too. There’s actually a very good chance that what makes this person “difficult” is coming from their own unresolved pain and suffering and somehow triggering those vulnerable places within you.
In many spiritual traditions and healing practices, it is understood that the world is a mirror. Your outer world is seen as a reflection of your inner world. So, in a sense, if you did not have something within you that is connected to this “difficult” person, there would be no reason for you to have a reaction – there would be no charge so to speak. I invite you to simply consider this concept.
On a very deep level (one that embraces the interconnectedness of all things) know that as you are willing to offer Metta to this difficult person, you are also offering to what we might call the shadow, the part of ourselves that we suppress, reject and don’t want to accept or see. This might no always be the case, but it is something else to explore as you practice. And, remember if you are struggling in any way, you can always return your practice back to yourself!
Do your foundational practices. Get comfortable and settle into your breath. Spend a few moments centering on your heart. Imagine yourself sitting in your circle of loving beings. Allow yourself to absorb the energy of loving-kindness and compassion into your heart and into every atom and cell of your being. Begin to 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 from suffering.
- May I have ease of well-being.
When you feel immersed in loving-kindness, bring an image of the Difficult person you will work with into your awareness. Begin by saying to yourself, “Just as I wish to be peaceful and free from suffering, may you also be peaceful and free from suffering.” Then, repeat the phrases while holding the image of the Difficult person in your mind:
- May you be happy.
- May you be peaceful.
- May you be free from suffering.
- May you have ease of well-being.
Accept the feelings that arise for you and let them move through. You may feel anger, frustration, sadness or grief ~ just let it flow. If at any point, the feelings become overwhelming, switch back to practicing for your self. You may wish to ask yourself, “Who is the one suffering from this anger or sadness?” You are the one who is holding onto this feeling, the other person has most likely moved on. Begin to let these emotions go to ease your own heart. When you feel ready, return your practice to the difficult person until you feel complete.
Finish your practice by returning to your heart center or circle of loving beings. Offer a few rounds of phrases for your self for your willingness to be present and work with difficult feelings and resistance. When you are complete with your practice, take a few moments to dedicate the merit for the benefit of all who are suffering, yourself and your Difficult person included. Use the words that feel right to you.
Daily Journal Reflection:
- What are you noticing about practicing Metta for a Difficult person?
- Was it any different today?
- Are you able to let go of difficult feelings that you are holding onto?
- If so, how does that feel?
- If not, why are you still holding on?
- How is practicing Metta affecting your daily life?
I thank all of you for participating with me in this journey of Metta. Our virtual Sangha or community is worldwide; the loving-kindness and compassion we are generating is universal!
May you have a day filled with inner peace and calm.