Tag Archives: Buddha

Day 7 ~ May Is For Metta 2014: Extending Loving-kindness To A Benefactor Or Mentor

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May Is For Metta 2014

The Buddha shared that as an individual practices Metta and cultivates the energy of Loving-kindness within, there will be 11 benefits that are experienced:

  1. You will sleep easy.
  2. You will wake easily.
  3. You will have pleasant dreams.
  4. People will love you.
  5. Devas or celestial beings and animals will love you.
  6. Devas or celestial beings will protect you.
  7. External dangers will not harm you.
  8. Your face will be radiant.
  9. Your mind will be serene.
  10. You will die unconfused.
  11. You will be reborn in happy realms.

Today, we begin to extend the field ofour practice of Metta, Loving-kindness out beyond our own selves to another being.  Still, we continue to start our practice by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for our own self, as this is always the foundation from which we begin to offer it to others.  Then, we continue by offering Metta to someone who has been a help to us in our life.   Traditionally, this category is referred to as the Benefactor or Mentor.  A Benefactor/Mentor is someone who has been generous and kind to us.  They have taught us, supported us and inspired us in some way.  When we think of them, we feel loved and supported; we have great gratitude for the fact that this being is a part of our lives.  Just thinking of this person generates a smile.   Some of the options to choose from include:  a beloved teacher, a mentor, a grandparent, a pet, a child or even something you love in nature.  

Often, in the beginning of Metta practice, it is suggested to work with a Benefactor/Mentor who is a living person as this can help to deepen our level of concentration.  Working with this category supports our expanding experience of loving-kindness in two ways.  One is that we begin to extend our practice out to another.  The other is that this being support us in deepening our own experience loving-kindness as that is what they bring to our lives.  We have only the most positive and loving feelings for this person.

“Kindness points to the core of what it means to be alive, which is to be connected.” – Sharon Salzberg

I have shared the above quote here as it is in working with our relationship with a Benefactor or Mentor that we begin to extend our loving-kindness outward and open up to expanding our sense of connection to all beings.  This is an essential part of the Metta practice.  We do it gradually by creating a foundation of loving-kindness within ourselves and then working with the various categories. 

Daily Practice:  

Do your foundational practices.  Begin by getting comfortable and settling in to your breath.  Spend a few moments centering on your heart, recalling a moment you felt immersed in unconditional love or seeing yourself in the center of your circle of loving beings.  By now, you have begun to develop a sense of how to connect with the energy of loving-kindness.  Allow your self to feel enveloped in this loving feeling.  Begin to send Metta to yourself by repeating the phrases you have been working with.  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, as if they were really sitting there with you in this very moment.  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 practice of Loving-kindness into your daily life.

Continue to practice for your Benefactor/Mentor for as long as you can or have committed to for your practice time.   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 your whole being, into every atom and cell.  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 did it feel to begin to practice Metta for another being?  Did it seem easier or harder than practicing for your self?  How is your practice going?  Are there any obstacles you are becoming aware of?  Are you remembering to return your practice to yourself when you are having difficult emotions arise or have difficulty concentrating?  Are you able to bring your practice into your daily life in some way?

May your day be filled with happiness, love and equanimity.

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Meditation ~ A Universal Tool For Well-Being

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Quanyin

“Watchfulness is the path of immortality:
Unwatchfulness is the path of death.
Those who are watchful never die:
Those who do not watch are already as dead.Those who with a clear mind have seen this truth,
Those who are wise and ever watchful,
They feel the joy of watchfulness,
The joy of the path of the great.And those who in high thought and in deep contemplation
With ever living power advance on the path,
They in the end reach NIRVANA,
The peace supreme and infinite joy.~ Buddha, The Dhammapada

One of the main practices that we explore on The Heart Of Awakening Blog is meditation.  I have found this to be one of the most essential practices for living as a human being.  I began my personal exploration with meditation when I was 14 years old and have been a practitioner and spiritual seeker ever since.  I have explored meditative and contemplative practices from a variety of spiritual traditions and cultures.  I have certain foundational practices that I continue to work with and I am always open to exploring new ones.  What I have found in my own journey and in working with others is that it is important to find a practice that supports where you are and where you would like to be and that is resonant with who you are today.

Overall, meditation is a process of focusing, calming and observing the movement of the mind.  It is an important tool to achieve mental clarity, well-being and spiritual awareness.   Almost all spiritual traditions have some form of meditation or contemplation as a way to practice and deepen our sense of connection with self, others, the world and spirit.  Metta meditation is a Buddhist practice that cultivates loving-kindness and compassion.  It begins with self, as creating a foundation of compassion for self is seen as necessary to be able to offer this energy to others.  I find this practice to be highly beneficial for both beginning and experienced meditators; that is why I offer the annual May Is For Metta: 31 Days Of Loving-kidness practice during the month of May each year. (Note: The practice is available to start anytime)

Regardless of what type of meditation practice you are working with, it is fascinating to consider how science is really beginning to identify many of the benefits of meditation, which spiritual practitioners have known for so long.   Many institutions including Harvard Medical School and NIH have now shown that meditation can have positive effects on an individual’s health and overall well-being.  Research shows that this is accomplished as meditation brings the brainwave patterns into an alpha state, which is a level of consciousness that promotes a healing state.  There is even scientific evidence that meditation can reduce blood pressure and relieve pain and stress.

As I was writing the post, I came across an article by David DeSteno on the Daily Good, entitled, “The Morality Of Meditation”.  DeSteno heads up the Social Emotions Group at Northeastern University; as stated on their website, the group’s goal is “to illuminate the complex and reciprocal relations binding emotion and social behavior. In short, we’re most interested in how emotions shape decisions and actions underlying many of the most important facets of social living.”  Aware of many of the positive benefits of meditation, the group wanted to actually explore Buddha’s original teaching that meditation is the path to ending suffering.

What they found was it took only a short period of time for people who just began meditating to become more compassionate than a control group.  There has been other research on the aspect of the development of compassion through meditation, whether we are using a compassion practice, such as Metta, or another type of practice.  Meditation makes us more compassionate – as we become more connected to ourselves, others and the world, that is a natural response. There are many benefits that have come to light through recent research and that support what meditation practitioners have long known, so at this point, there is really no reason not to meditate and every reason to practice.  Meditation practice makes us healthier, more balanced and more loving and compassionate.

Here is a list of some of the ways that meditation can benefit us on the level of body, mind, emotion and spirit:

Physical:

  • Decreased high blood pressure.
  • Lowered cholesterol levels.
  • Deep rest measured by decreased metabolic rate and lower heart rate.
  • Lowered levels of cortisol and lactate, two chemicals associated with stress.
  • Reduction of free radicals – unstable oxygen molecules that can cause tissue damage.
  • Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing.
  • Decreases the aging process.

Mental/Emotional:

  • Greater creativity.
  • Decreased anxiety.
  • Decreased depression
  • Decreased irritability and moodiness
  • Improved learning ability and memory.
  • Increased self-actualization.
  • Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
  • Increased happiness.
  • Increased emotional stability.
  • Increased brain wave coherence

Spiritual:

  • Experiencing a sense of oneness and connection
  • Deeper understanding and fulfillment of purpose
  • A sense of completion
  • Strengthening intuition and insight
  • Deepening our sense of empathy and compassion for ourselves, others & the world.
  • An overall experience of well-being

Here are a few other posts on HOA related to meditation that you might like to explore:

SoHam Mantra Meditation: Breathing, Connecting, Being

The Power Of The Breath

Exploring Metta Meditation

May Is For Metta

Meditation On Actualizing Intention

Day 29 ~ May Is For Metta 2103: Deepening Our Metta Practice

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Quanyin

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals.  Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.  Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” – Pema Chodron

One of the great gifts of Metta is learning to move beyond our personal experience into the understanding that all beings experience suffering just as we do and also, all beings wish to be happy and peaceful just as we do.  I find 30 days to be a great container for exploring a new practice or creating a change in our lives.  As we move toward the end of our container, we have a much stronger foundation than when we first began.  This is a wonderful time to re-examine our practice and how far we have come.  It is also an opportunity to see where more of our work lies.

At this point you know that you can always do your practice in a way that you feel guided to; so follow that as you feel to.  My suggestion for the day is to deepen in two areas:

1. Loving-kindness For Ourselves

2. Loving-kindness For A Difficult Person

Take some time today to practice for yourself for a bit longer than you may have been doing since we moved on to the other categories.  Also, take some time to offer Metta for yourself throughout the day, perhaps as difficult feelings arise or just when you think of it.  Metta can be both a proactive and responsive process, so it is beneficial to work with it in both of those ways.  If there is a particular issue or struggle you are dealing with, you may wish to bring this into your practice, offering loving-kindness to yourself with a more specific focus.

Additionally, take some time to work the category of Difficult person, referred to in traditional Buddhist texts as the “Enemy”.  There are clearly varying degrees of difficulty and this is something to explore as part of the practice.  At the most basic level, the Difficult person is someone whom we find it challenging to like or feel friendly towards.  It is someone towards whom we may have varying degrees of negative feelings.  Sometimes, just thinking about this Difficult person causes us to be upset or frustrated.

Working with the category of Difficult person offers us the opportunity to go to a deeper place within ourselves.  Oftentimes, when someone causes a reaction in us, there are feelings and issues we need to resolve within ourselves.   As always, we begin by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves.  We acknowledge that something is arising within us that is causing discomfort and in a sense, we comfort ourselves with our attention and our compassion.

There are often people and situations that challenge us and cause uncomfortable feelings to arise; this can occur in our work life, our families, and just in moving about in the world.  Often, we need to deal with seemingly difficult people and situations but there is nothing we can do to change the fact that we have to relate with them.  This is one of the places we can shut our heart down as we feel there is nothing to do with our feelings but stuff them inside.  By offering Metta, we begin to work with our resistance, which supports having a more open heart and mind.  It also gives us a vehicle for dealing with something that we may feel we have no power to change.  Perhaps we cannot change this outwardly, but we do have the power to create change within ourselves.

As we begin, we recognize that the Difficult person is suffering just as we are suffering.  Even though we struggle with this person, we acknowledge that they deserve to be happy as all beings do.  You may wish to choose someone whom you have struggled with for some time or just notice a situation that arises during the day, such as a frustrating phone call or stressful interaction with a coworker.  In the beginning, it can be helpful to choose someone to work with who you find is only mildly difficult rather than someone who stirs up very strong emotions.  However, if a very difficult situation arises, this can be a good time to explore responding with loving-kindness and compassion.  Remember you can always bring your practice to yourself first.  Once you are in that space of loving-kindness you can explore extending it to the Difficult person or situation.

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 as you go about your day to center yourself in the heart and repeat a round of two or phrases for yourself.  Also, remember to do your foundational practices several times throughout the day, especially when you are experiencing stress or difficult emotions.

When you feel ready to move on to practicing for all of the categories or the ones you have chosen for today: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person and All Beings.  As you begin, say, “Just as I wish to be peaceful and happy, so does this being wish to have inner peace and joy.”   Repeat the phrases for each category you are working with:

  • 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 move on to the next category.

At some point either in your sitting practice, as you go about your day or in both ways, take some time to explore the category of a Difficult Person more deeply.  Offer Metta for this person and also notice what arises within yourself.  Are there certain qualities about this person that you, too, may carry?  Maybe yes and maybe no; it’s all about exploring.  Remember, it can be someone whom you often struggle with or someone who has annoyed you or caused difficult emotions for you today.  Do your foundational practices and say, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so does this being wish to have peace and happiness”.  Begin to offer phrases for your Difficult Person, remembering to return your practice to yourself as you need to:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free from suffering.
  • May you 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.  Really allow that feeling to sink into you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.

Take a few moments to reflect on your practice.  Ask that the merit of your practice be for the benefit of all beings knowing that in sharing this merit you, too, are receiving immense benefit.

Journal Notes:  Take some time to reflect on your practice of Metta for yourself and for a Difficult Person.  Have you noticed any changes since you began?  How did it feel to take some more time to offer Metta to yourself?  Are you able to see a change as you work with the category of Difficult Person?  Do you notice anything about the Difficult Person that may be something for you to explore within yourself?  Are you remembering to be gentle and loving with yourself as you practice?

May you have a day filled with happiness and peace.

Day 23 ~ May Is For Metta 2013: Every Day Is A New Day

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Quanyin

“Rahula, practice loving-kindness to overcome anger.  Loving-kindness has the capacity to bring happiness to others without demanding anything in return.  Practice compassion to overcome cruelty.  Compassion has the capacity to remove the suffering of others without expecting anything in return. Practice sympathetic joy to overcome hatred.  Sympathetic joy arises when one rejoices over the happiness of others and wishes others well-being and success.  Practice non-attachment to overcome prejudice.  Non-attachment is the way of looking at all things openly and equally.  This is because that is.  Myself and others are not separate.  Do not reject one thing only to chase after another.  I call these the four immeasurables.  Practice them and you will become a refreshing source of vitality and happiness for others.” – Buddha speaking to his son, Rahula

Everyday is a new beginning.  If for some reason you have lost momentum with your practice or even if you have dropped off, just remember that you can begin again.  You can continue right where you left off or move on; you can even start over again if that feels right to you.  This exploration is about cultivating loving-kindness and compassion.  It is also about developing a daily meditation practice in a way that supports you where you are today.

During meditation, we use an anchor such as the breath or the phrases to bring us back to the present moment; we do this whenever we realize our mind has wandered.  In the same way, when we realize we have gotten off track or missed a day or two or three of our practice, we simply return to it.  We do this with gentleness and with love.  We just notice we have gotten distracted and we return to the practice.  Although our natural habitual tendency might be to move into self-judgment or harshness, we can choose to embrace our practice of loving-kindness by just noticing where we are and then gently and lovingly returning to our center.

Meditation offers us the opportunity to return to our center and to begin anew in every moment.  Metta teaches us to be loving and compassionate with ourselves in our practice and in our daily life.  Extend this gift of loving-kindness to yourself in the moment and explore what’s possible.

Today, we will work with the full practice, choosing one person for each of the categories.  If for any reason this feels too much or is an obstacle to your practice, then just choose a few categories to work with.  Begin your practice by setting an intention in a way that feels right for you. Recognize that you are practicing, not just for yourself and that the cultivation of loving-kindness is beneficial for all beings and for the world.

Daily Practice: Find a quiet place and a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in your circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Imagine a time when you felt held in that way.  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: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person and All Beings.  Remember to come back to your heart center for a few moments between each category.  Offer the phrases for each being you have chosen to work with today:

  • 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.  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. Really allow that feeling to sink in to you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with loving-kindness and compassion

Journal Notes: How are you feeling about your practice?  Can you approach your practice with gentleness and compassion rather than harshness or judgment?  How does it feel to be cultivating a daily practice or exploring expanding in loving-kindness? Are you able to connect with your heart center more easily? If so, how does that feel?  If not, what is getting in your way?  Are you being gentle and loving with yourself in regards to your practice? in your life?

May you have a peaceful and happy day.

Day 22 ~ May Is For Metta 2013: Planting Seeds Of Loving-kindness

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Quanyin

 “Hatred cannot coexist with loving-kindness,and

dissipates if supplanted with thoughts based on loving-kindness”.  – Buddha

It is a natural aspect of life that we are troubled by difficult emotional states and often, we find it difficult to find ways to deal with them.  However, even when the mind is troubled, it is within the capacity of each of us to arouse positive feelings.  The Buddha taught the practice of Metta meditation to develop the mental habit of loving-kindness and compassion for one’s self and others.

Loving-kindness is a practice which can bring about positive attitudinal changes.  It assists in developing a quality of loving acceptance.  This is a way of healing the mind and freeing it from pain and confusion.  Metta practice offers the immediate benefit of changing our habitual negative patterns present in the mind as well bringing about a positive outlook on life.

Sometimes the response to Metta is immediate; we begin to feel more loving-kindness and happiness right away.  Other times, we do the practice, and do it some more, and do not feel very different.  Still, even without feeling, it is important to know that we are creating a positive change in the mind and in life.  It is like planting a seed.  It takes time for the seed to develop and to begin to burst forth.  Think of Metta practice as planting seeds for the cultivation of loving-kindness and compassion in your life and in the world.

One of the ways we can work with Metta is in response to things that happen in the world such as the tornadoes in Oklahoma this week or other tragedies that are happening in every moment.  Or, maybe there is someone we know who is suffering from a disease such as cancer or perhaps the loss of a loved one.  Regardless of the size or scope of the situation, what is happening is that we are becoming aware of suffering.  It is possible we may be able to do something outwardly to help.  It is also possible we are having a strong or difficult reaction to this suffering.

Offering Metta in response to tragedy or the awareness of another’s suffering is one of the great gifts of the practice.  We may or may not be able to do something outwardly, but inwardly we can generate loving-kindness and compassion for those in need.   So let’s take some time today in our practice to offer Metta to the people of Oklahoma and to others around the world who are suffering.  Perhaps something you saw in the news today pulled at your heart-strings; this is a perfect opportunity to practice Metta.

Today, let’s work with the full practice and all of the categories.  If for any reason this feels too much or is an obstacle to your practice, then just choose a few categories to work with.  Just take a few moments to breathe into your heart center and feel what is right for you today.

Daily Practice:  Find a quiet place and a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in your circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness  in a time when you felt held in that way.  Then, begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself.

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peacful.
  • May I be free from 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: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person, and All Beings.  Use the phrases that feel best to you.

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peacful.
  • May you be free from suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

If you become distracted at any point or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning your practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  Then, return your practice to where you left off.  When you are ready 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.  Really allow that feeling to sink into you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with loving-kindness and compassion. Let this energy support you as you journey through the day.

Anytime you become aware of someone, somewhere in the world, or some group of people who are suffering, take a few moments to practice on the spot.  This is a gift to others and the world and to yourself as you are choosing to open your heart in a moment when it may feel like closing.  In offering loving-kindness and compassion, you are opening to receive it more deeply as well.  And, remember, each time that you practice Metta you are planting seeds of loving-kindness and compassion that can grow and flow where they are needed in the world.

Journal Notes: How are you feeling about your Metta practice?  Are you noticing a difference in how you feel or what you are experiencing?  If yes, what is that like?  If no, are you okay knowing you are planting seeds?  Do you think you may continue to practice Metta or daily meditation after the 31 days?  If so, what will that look like?  If not, what is stopping you?   Did you explore practicing on the spot?

May you be happy. May you be peaceful. May you be free of suffering. May you have ease of well-being.

Day 21 ~ May Is For Metta 2013: Walking Metta Meditation

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“In my room, the world is beyond my understanding; but when I walk I see that it consists of three or four hills and a cloud.” – Walllace Stevens

During our practice in 2010, one of our participants shared that she had incorporated her practice of Metta with walking meditation, which she usually did outside.  I have always found walking meditation to be very beneficial because it helps to develop a practice in a way that supports carrying it out into the world.  Living in New York City for a large part of my life, I found this practice very beneficial.  It was not possible to connect with the many people I saw everyday or even offer help to all of those I saw in need, but it was possible to offer loving-kindness and compassion.  I know this practice was something that helped me to have a much greater connection to the world around me as well as a deep sense of peace.

At the time of the Buddha, it was a traditional practice for the monks and nuns to practice the cultivation of loving-kindness meditation as they walked around.  As they went around town asking for food, they would radiate out loving-kindness and compassion to everyone they encountered on the streets.  Today, I encourage you to explore combining your Metta practice with walking meditation, either as a formal practice or just by going out for a walk.  In basic walking meditation, we hold our awareness on each step.  Stepping right, stepping left.  This is our anchor as the breath may be our anchor in other practices.  In working with Metta, be present with each step but continue to use the phrases as your anchor if your mind wanders or you become distracted.

This is a short video with Thich Nhat Hanh sharing about the practice of walking meditation and the importance of making peaceful, happy steps on the earth.  He quotes the Buddha as saying, “As you can make peaceful, happy steps on the earth, the earth can become the pureland.”  Take some time today to make peaceful, happy steps on the earth.

Daily Practice: Choose whether you want to do a sitting practice and then explore doing some Metta as you go for a walk.  Or, choose to incorporate your Metta practice with walking meditation.  You can choose to walk in a circle or perhaps find somewhere in nature where you can practice mindful walking.  Do your foundational practices.  Imagine yourself in the center of your circle of loving beings or just enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness. 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 using the phrases that feel best to you. Try to take at least part of your practice out into the world, whether doing walking meditation, going for a walk or even while at the grocery store.  Explore extending Metta to people you see out in the world remembering that “just as you wish to be happy and peaceful, so does this being wish to have inner peace and joyfulness.”  Repeat the phrases:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free of suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

If you become distracted at any point or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning your practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns. Then, return your practice to where you left off.  When you are ready to complete your practice, return yourself to the circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion that you have been cultivating.  Really allow that feeling to sink in to you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with loving-kindness and compassion.

Journal Notes:  Did you explore combining Metta with walking meditation?  How did that feel?  How is your practice going?  Are you able to spend some time everyday in practice?  If yes, what are you noticing?  If not, what is stopping you?

May you all have a radiantly joyful day.

Day 18 ~ May Is For Metta 2013: Exploring Loving-kindness For All Beings

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Quanyin

Let thoughts of loving-kindness pervade the whole world, above and below, outwards and unbounded, free from any hatred or ill-will.  Whether standing or walking, sitting or lying down, during all one’s waking hours, tend this mind of goodwill, which is called the state of sublime abiding. – The Buddha, Sutta Nipata

The Buddha taught that loving-kindness practice is central to happiness.  The practice of Metta is very positive and as we have touched on earlier, really means cultivating a deep “friendliness” toward ourselves, others and all beings.  Sometimes people think these feelings should arise naturally or spontaneously rather than being generated.  The Buddha shared that there is a need to cultivate these qualities.  He taught that achieving this state, know as sublime abiding, where heart and mind are one, does come from a heavenly state, however it is something we must invite into ourselves and our lives.  In a sense, by working with the energies and qualities of loving-kindness and compassion, we are activating that part of our divinity.

Today, we will continue our practice with groups of beings and the category of All Beings.  We will also add one or two of the individual categories to the practice before we bring the full practice together tomorrow.  In addition, to tomorrow’s post, I will be offering a teleclass gathering at 8 PM EST on Sunday, May 19th.   This will be an opportunity to come together and share our experiences, ask questions and participate in a guided Metta meditation practice.  Here is the link to register, which will provide call instructions for the live call and audio replay.   I hope you’ll join us.

Daily Practice:  As always, we begin by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves.  Find a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I be free from danger.
  • May I have mental happiness.
  • May I have physical happiness.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready, choose one category, either a Benefactor/Mentor or a Beloved to work with.  Envision holding this being in loving-kindness and compassion.  Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so does this being wish for joy and serenity.”  Begin to offer phrases for the person you have chosen:

  • May you be free from danger.
  • May you have mental happiness.
  • May you have physical happiness.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready, come back to your heart center and repeat a round of phrases for yourself.  Then, choose either a Neutral being or a Difficult person to work with.  Envision holding this being in loving-kindness and compassion.   Begin to offer phrases for this person, saying, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so does this being wish for joy and serenity.”   Repeat the phrases for this being:

  • May you be free from danger.
  • May you have mental happiness.
  • May you have physical happiness.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

Again, when you feel ready to move on, come back to your heart center for a few moments and repeat a round of phrases for yourself.  This time call on a group of All Beings, such as All Children, All Animals, All Men, or All Women.  Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so do All ______  wish for joy and serenity.”  Begin to offer loving-kindness to this group by offering the phrases:

  • May All _______ be free from danger.
  • May All _______ have mental happiness.
  • May All _______ have physical happiness.
  • May All _______ have ease of well-being.

As always, if your mind wanders, just notice and return to the phrases.  If you continue to struggle or difficult emotions arise, return your practice to your self until your feel more settled.  When you feel ready, once again offer the phrases for your group.  If working with a large group is too difficult, you can always choose a smaller group, like your family or a community you are a part of.  Sometimes it is more challenging to hold our focus and awareness on a larger group of beings, particularly spread out around the world.

When you feel ready to move on, center in your heart once again.  Connect with the loving-kindness within your self.  Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so do All Beings wish for joy and serenity.”  And, gently begin to repeat the phrases for All Beings:

  • May All Beings be free from danger.
  • May All Beings have mental happiness.
  • May All Beings have physical happiness.
  • May All Beings have ease of well-being.

If at any point you need to return the practice to yourself, or perhaps return to a smaller group, do so.   Being gentle and responsive to yourself is one of the gifts of Metta practice.  We notice our difficulty or resistance, but rather than ignoring it or trying to push through it, we return to our own heart and to cultivating loving-kindness for ourselves.  It can be helpful to reflect on or journal about what difficulties arise as they are indication of things we need to work on in ourselves.  When you feel complete with your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the loving-kindness and compassion that you have been cultivating.  Allow that feeling to sink in to you, let every atom and cell of your being to absorb the energy of loving-kindness.  Take a few moments to reflect on your practice.

Dedicate the merit of your practice for all beings.  Consider all of the beings you have practiced for today and offer the merit of your practice for their benefit.  Remember that as you offer up the merit of your practice, you are not giving it away or losing it but you are actually generating more merit through the act of giving.

Journal Notes:  Did you have difficult feelings or emotions arise during your practice?  If so, spend some time writing about them.  What did you notice in practicing for various categories of individuals and groups?  Were some more difficult than others?  Were some easier?  How are you feeling about your practice overall?  Is there anything you’d like to change about it for the rest of our time together?  This can be a good time to review your commitment to see if you’d like to make any changes.

May the road rise up to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

And the rain fall soft upon your fields,

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

– An Irish Blessing