It’s Take Your Metta To The Streets Day!
“Love exists in itself, not relying on owning or being owned. Like the pearl, love can only buy itself, because love is not a matter of currency or exchange. No one has enough to buy it but everyone has enough to cultivate it. Metta reunites us with what it means to be alive and unbound.”
~ Sharon Salzberg
In a beautiful and insightful post on The Facets of Metta, teacher and author Sharon Salzberg, shares the following:
“Researchers once gave a plant to every resident of a nursing home. They told half of these elderly people that the plants were theirs to care for — they had to pay close attention to their plants’ needs for water and sunlight, and they had to respond carefully to those needs. The researchers told the other half of the residents that their plants were theirs to enjoy but that they did not have to take any responsibility for them; the nursing staff would care for the plants.
At the end of a year, the researchers compared the two groups of elders. The residents who had been asked to care for their plants were living considerably longer than the norm, were much healthier, and were more oriented towards and connected to their world. The other residents, those who had plants but did not have to stay responsive to them, simply reflected the norms for people their age in longevity, health, alertness, and engagement with the world.
This study shows, among other things, the enlivening power of connection, of love, of intimacy. This is the effect that metta can have on our lives.”
When we are out in the world – driving, walking, at the store – this is a time we may check out or disconnect. We are not with those we love, we are not necessarily engaging with anyone directly and yet, if we open our hearts there is a great opportunity to cultivate our sense of connection with self, others and the world.
Many of the people we engage with when we are out “on the streets” may be Neutral Beings. We may also feel some folks are “Difficult Beings”. And, there is certainly an opportunity to practice for all beings.
For today’s practice, I invite you to see what happens when you take your Metta to the streets. Consider offering Metta to someone you may not have noticed before, to someone who caused you some frustration or irritation and to someone that you see suffering in some way that you may not be able to help actively. Be curious, explore.
And, of course, be sure to offer Metta to yourself as you move through your day!
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.
If you have a daily sitting practice, you can include that today as well. Otherwise, take some time as you are out in the world, out on the streets, to notice people around you. Work with the categories of Neutral Being, Difficult Being and All Beings as you feel called to throughout your day. You may like to take a break from work or other activities and just sit on a bench and watch people and offer Metta as they go by.
Acknowledge that just as you wish to be happy and peaceful so do all these other beings. Offer phrases accordingly to each category you choose to practice for today.
Come back to your center and offer Metta to yourself several times throughout the day as well.
At the end of your day, offer the merit of your practice for all beings you showered Metta on today and all beings without exception:
- May we be happy.
- May we be peaceful.
- May we be free of suffering.
- May we have ease of well-being.
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 explore bringing Metta to the streets?
- Did you notice anyone who really stirred your heart strings?
- Did you feel more aware and present with what happens around you?
- Did you notice feeling a deeper sense of connection or peace within yourself?
- What else did you notice?
- Did you take time to offer Metta to yourself?
May you have beautiful and joy-filled day!
Tashi Deleh! (I honor the greatness within you!)