Tag Archives: Happiness

Heal Thyself!

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Heal Thyself is the name of a book written by Dr. Edward Bach, creator of the Bach Flower Remedy System of Natural Healing; this is one of the main holistic modalities I utilize in my practice.  I have spent the last 15 years in the role of holistic practitioner, facilitator and shaman.  At the core of this work is the understanding that we all have the innate ability to heal ourselves.  It is through the process of self-exploration and increased awareness that we can find the resources and tools to support us on our journey of transformation and healing.

Here are some of Dr. Bach’s words from Heal Thyself, first published in 1931:

“Disease is in essence the result of conflict between Soul and Mind, and will never be eradicated except by spiritual and mental effort.  Such efforts, if properly made with understanding as we shall see later, can cure and prevent disease by removing those basic factors which are its primary cause.”

“Suffering is a corrective to point out a lesson which by other means we have failed to grasp, and never can it be eradicated until that lesson is learnt.  Let it also be known that in those who understand and are able to read the significance of premonitory symptoms, disease may be prevented before its onset or aborted in its earlier stages if the proper corrective spiritual and mental efforts be undertaken.  Nor need any case despair, however severe, for the fact that the individual is still granted physical life indicates that the Soul who rules is not without hope.”

“The development of Love brings us to the realisation of Unity, of the truth that one and all of us are of the One Great Creation.  The cause of all our troubles is self and separateness, and this vanishes as soon as Love and the knowledge of the great Unity become part of our natures.”

I have found these particular messages to be true in my own personal journey of healing and my work with clients over the last 20 years.  You can read more about Dr. Bach in my post, Visionary Voices: Dr. Edward Bach

I have found the message of “Heal Thyself”, to be at the core of my personal experience.  I would like to share with you a bit about my journey and how I came to the field of holistic health.

Amazingly, this path began for me at the age of 11.  I had a very inquisitive nature and I was an avid reader, often finishing a book a day.  I had a developed a propensity to peruse any bookcase that I came across to see what titles jumped out at me – I still do this today! One summer while spending some time at grandparents apartment in Queens, NY, I was looking through their books, which at that point, I knew quite well, but I happened upon a book, I had not seen before.  It was back a bit, wedged in between two other big books, The Joy of Cooking by Julia Child, and a copy of the Talmud, a Jewish text, that my great-grandfather had brought with him from Eastern Europe.  

For some unknown reason, I was drawn to the this little red-covered book, Healing Yourself with Foot Reflexology by Mildred Carter.  This seemingly random choice actually opened a big door for me.  As I read it, I began to apply the techniques of Reflexology, an ancient practice which uses pressure points on the hands, feet and ears to support health and wellness. It’s been around for thousands of years.  I was amazed to see that by pressing a few simple points on my body, I could feel differently.  I found I was able to ease headaches, quell sinus/allergy issues and lessen stress and anxiety, just by holding a few points on the body.  I was truly amazed.

When I was 14 years old, my cousin, who had been called Zed all his life, suddenly returned from India with a new name, Vijay, which means strong or victorious.  He shared that he was given this name by his guru, or spiritual teacher Osho.  He talked a lot about yoga and meditation and although he did not show me what this was, I was very intrigued.  He seemed so different, so much calmer, and more vibrant.  Once again my curiosity and my bookishness got me going.  I raced to the library and found all of the books I could on meditation and yoga.  Surprisingly, for 1981, the Paramus, NJ library, had quite a selection, and I was able to begin to explore a practice yoga and meditation within a just few days.

Once again I found that I was learning and growing and aware of my own innate ability to be clearer, calmer and more focused.  I came to experience the flow of energy in the body through yoga and the power of using the breath and awareness to create a change in my experience.  This was an amazing gift to have as a teenager.  I continued to learn and explore over the next few years.  Although a seemingly random experience, I credit developing these foundational practices in my survival through a very traumatic time growing up with a parent with schizophrenia.  And, they have continued to be a part of my life ever since. 

The awareness that I had gained as a teenager was also helpful when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at age 20.  This term was quite new at that time and conventional medicine did not have a lot of understanding about the condition.  In some ways, it is still a bit of an enigma today.  The only treatment at that time was to take heavy pain medication and anti-depressants.   I found myself in a place where I was physically in a lot of pain, highly fatigued and very despondent due to the limitations that I experienced. I did not find any medication really helpful and at age 20, having to drop out of college due to my illness, I felt certain I needed to find a my own solution.

So, having the basic awareness that I already had, that healing and change or at least what I call in my work, “a state change” was possible, I began a journey that took me most of a decade.  At the time I did not know it, but this journey was really a holistic exploration of life and healing.  As I explored a variety of modalities to help ease the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, I came to understand that for true change and healing to occur, it is key to embrace a holistic approach to not only health and to life itself.

What is a holistic approach to healing?

Holistic approaches focus on the whole person rather than just on an symptom, illness or specific aspect.  Holistic healing focuses on supporting a person in body, mind, emotion and spirit, acknowledging these elements of a person are interconnected and need to be supported, balanced and integrated to maintain overall health and well-being.  So, when one part of the body or mind is out of balance, it is understood that can affect the whole person and be a factor in disease.  Learn more

I spent the better part of a decade, exploring various approaches and modalities that addressed body, mind, emotion and spirit.  At the time, I didn’t know what I was doing was holistic, I was just trying to find things that helped me to feel better and to heal.

I focused on my body with diet, nutrition, supplements, bodywork and chiropractic care.  

I focused on my mind by exploring beliefs that were not supporting my well-being and worked to reduce the stressors in my life.  

I focused on my emotions, at first through therapy and later when I came to work with the Bach Flower Remedies, which are flower essences that support emotional health and balance.  At this point, I came to understand the role of emotions in the disease process and particularly how the impact of trauma was a factor in my physical experience of Fibromyalgia. 

I focused on spirituality and found ways to foster a sense of connection to myself, others and the world.  Finally, I came to study Shamanism, which is another ancient practice of healing, that has since become the heart of my life and my work as it embodies a holistic approach, which I have come to believe is key to living and being healthy, happy and vibrant.  It is based on the interconnectedness of all things – the “Unity” of which Dr. Bach speaks of in Heal Thyself. 

It has been over 16 years that I have been free of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.  I credit this to embracing a holistic approach to health and wellness.  And, it was this exploration that lead me into the field of holistic healing.  As I learned and improved, I began to study some of the modalities, which supported me.  I felt strongly about sharing my experience and learning with others, particularly in terms of the importance of considering body, mind, emotion and spirit and the interconnectedness of these parts of ourselves in experiencing happiness and well-being.

I continue to explore resources and tools that support wellness for myself and for those I work with.  In my role as holistic practitioner, facilitator and shaman, I begin by introducing my clients to a holistic approach and asking how they care for their body, mind, emotions and spirit as it is my hope to support and awaken the healer within them.  There is no magic formula or pill; each person needs to know themselves and to seek their own innate wisdom for healing.  In the words of the great medical doctor, Albert Schweitzer:

 “The shaman succeeds for the same reason all the rest of us (doctors) succeed.  Each patient carries his own doctor inside him.  They come to us not knowing this truth.  We are at our best when we give the doctor who resides within each patient a chance to go to work.”

I wish you many blessings on your journey of transformation and healing!

Beth


If you’d like to explore working with me, feel free to visit my website, www.bethterrence.com and contact me to schedule a complimentary 20 minute consultation to explore what’s possible!

Summer of Love Special Offer ~ Three 90 Minute Integrative Holistic Healing Sessions For $337 (Reg.$450).  Available in person in Annapolis, MD or by Phone/Skype.  This is a great way to explore and focus on a specific challenge or pattern you’d like to create change around in your life. Come Explore! Access Offer

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Day 23 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Every Day Is A New Beginning

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“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: 

Do your foundational practices.  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

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 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 11 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Offering Loving-kindness To A Beloved

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“The light of loving-kindness can be compared to that of the stars, the sun, or the moon.  It shines on all loving beings everywhere, encompassing them all without exception or bias.”

– Excerpt from Living With Your Heart Wide Open by Steve Flowers & Bob Stahl

As our journey with May Is For Metta continues today, just take a few moments to honor yourself for the efforts you are making to be more conscious and awake.  Know that you are strengthening the energies of loving-kindness and compassion in your self, others and the world with each moment you dedicate to practice, whether in formal practice or by bringing Metta into your daily life.  This is a transformational process of integrating the energy of the heart into our lives, our relationships and our world.  Imagine if each person would take this time as we are, what our world might be like.

Today, we will explore the category of Beloved a bit more deeply.  We touched on it yesterday with our Mother’s Day Metta practice.   A Beloved is simply a family member or close friend.  Beloveds are those we have built close relationship with; those whom we trust and feel positive towards.  Take a moment to select a few friends or family members;  feel into whom  you feel most called to do the practice for today.  Call up the image of each one, feel into your heart and say a round of phrases.  Which one feels most resonant right now?  This practice is helping you to choose but also helping you to experience more of what is in your heart and how to make choices that are in alignment with your heart.  Learning to let your heart be your guide is a part of moving into a new way of being.

Daily Practice: 

Do your foundational practices.  We begin as always by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves as this is the foundation for offering it to others.  Get comfortable and settle into your breath.  Spend a few moments centering on your heart. Imagine yourself sitting in a circle surrounded by loving beings.  Say a few rounds of phrases for your self or spend longer as you feel to.

  • May I be safe.
  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free from suffering.

When you feel centered in the energy of loving-kindness bring an image of the Beloved you have chosen clearly into your mind.  Let yourself feel what it feels like to be in the presence of that being.  Allow yourself to enjoy being with that person.  Begin by saying to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, may you be happy and free from suffering.”  Then begin repeating the phrases for your Beloved:

  • May he/she be safe.
  • May he/she be happy.
  • May he/she be peaceful.
  • May he/she be free from suffering.

Find the language for the phrases that works best for you.  You may wish to refer to this other being as YOU, talking to them directly, you may wish to use their NAME or you may wish to use the THIRD person, He or She.  Explore this a bit and see what works for you.

Often, offering Metta for the Beloved may feel easy for you.  Usually, we are deepening the already good feelings we have for this person.  However, sometimes difficult feelings may arise.  You may feel anxiety or worry for your Beloved friend or family member.  You may remember something upsetting that happened in relating with them and feel angry, annoyed or frustrated.  You may feel envious of some experience your Beloved is having, a happier relationship, a better job or a more carefree life.  Just know that these are natural feelings to have as a human being.

If you do have difficult emotions arising, just notice and gently return to the Metta phrases for your Beloved.  Know it is the nature of the mind to take us to these places in ourselves; it is the practice of meditation to return to the present moment and to the place we choose to place our attention.  Even when it’s challenging, this is the place of freedom, when we are in the moment and all of those thoughts, feelings and memories do not define us.  Use the phrases to bring yourself back to the moment and to offering loving-kindness to your Beloved one.

If at any point, difficult emotions continue to dominate your attention, return to repeating the phrases for yourself as this is an important part of practicing loving-kindness – we work with all of who we are, the parts we like and the parts we don’t like.  We are bringing to light those shadow parts that cause us so much pain and suffering.  In response, we are not rejecting ourselves or judging ourselves, but we are accepting and loving ourselves unconditionally.  This is one of the great gifts of Metta and one of the most powerful gifts we can offer to ourselves and to others.

Practice as long as you feel to or have committed to for today.  Take a few moments at the end to dedicate the merit of your practice for all beings. You can do this in any way that feels appropriate to you and we will explore this more later on in our practice.  Here is a simple way to dedicate the merit of your practice for all beings:

  • May all beings have happiness and it’s cause.
  • May all beings be free of suffering, joyous content and at ease.
  • May all beings be balanced in equanimity towards one and all.
  • May the merit of my practice be for my own benefit and for that of all sentient beings.

Daily Journal Reflections:

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 practice Metta for a Beloved?   Was it different from practicing for a Benefactor/Mentor?  How is your practice going?  Are you able to continue making some time everyday to sit or practice in some way?  If not, what is stopping you?  What is your commitment to yourself right now in terms of making time to bring more loving-kindness into your life?

Remember, practicing can be any way that works for you?  Five minutes will do if that’s all you have.  But keep in mind that research has shown that 15 minutes a day of Loving-kindness practice can create a positive shift in our overall attitude toward life.

May you experience a blessed and joyful day.

Namaste.

Beth

Day 4 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Offering Loving-kindnes To Ourselves

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“Compassion is not a magical device that can instantly dispel all suffering. The path of compassion is altruistic but not idealistic.  Walking this path we are not asked to lay down our life, find a solution for all of the struggles in this world, or immediately rescue all beings. We are asked to explore how we may transform our own hearts and minds in the moment.

Can we understand the transparency of division and separation? Can we liberate our hearts from ill will, fear, and cruelty? Can we find the steadfastness, patience, generosity, and commitment not to abandon anyone or anything in this world? Can we learn how to listen deeply and discover the heart that trembles in the face of suffering?

The path of compassion is cultivated one step and one moment at a time. Each of those steps lessens the mountain of sorrow in the world.” 

– Pema Chodron

Believe it or not, we are going to spend a couple of more days focusing on cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves before we move on.  This practice is an opportunity to spend time being present with yourself and deepening in offering love and kindness to yourself in a new way.  How often do you take time to be fully present with yourself?  How often do you spend time offering love to yourself?  You may not always be able to take time off to just be by yourself, but in cultivating a practice of meditation and of loving-kindness, you are creating an “inner” retreat.  This is one of the most loving things you can do for yourself as you attend to the busyness of life.  And, it doesn’t have to happen on the meditation cushion, it can also be by inviting some of the aspects of Metta into your day-to-day activities.

For some of us, it is not easy to spend time loving and showering kindness on ourselves; it may actually be difficult or challenging.  This is a really good reason to stick with it.  It is often easier to focus our energies on others, neglecting ourselves.  We may have a strong inner critic, we may be used to focusing our attention on others, or we may believe it is selfish to love ourselves first.  Part of our practice is to notice what thoughts, feelings and beliefs come up as we practice.  We notice and then return to our practice by simply generating the feeling of loving-kindness and repeating the phrases.

Many thoughts arise during meditation practice and it is natural to come face to face with our conditioned mind.  There are many voices that keep us held in limiting patterns.  These are the voices that can actually keep us from sitting down to practice or from taking the time to be still.  Often, these begin with not being good enough, worthy enough or deserving of love.  In this practice and really in all meditation practice, we are beginning to turn the tables on these limiting beliefs.  Metta allows us to see where we are stuck and where it is that we are withholding love from ourselves.  I encourage you, even if you are struggling with disruptive thoughts, coming face to face with limiting beliefs or struggling with difficult feeling to stay present with the practice and with yourself.

Daily Practice:

Begin with the foundational practices.  If you have not decided how you wish to begin, take some time today to do so, reviewing Days 1 and 2 if necessary.  Once you have settled your body and mind, begin cultivating the feeling of loving-kindness.  Then, take a few moments to notice your experience.  Your sense of loving-kindness may be deepening as you are beginning to work with it more regularly.  Just notice.  When you feel immersed in the energy of loving-kindness, begin repeating the phrases.  Continue with the same phrases as yesterday or try some others for today.  This is still a time for exploration.  Be gentle, be open, and most of all be loving with yourself.  Practice for as long as you have committed to or as much as you can for today.

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

Also, as you go about the day, you may become more aware of some of the voices that keep you stuck.  When you notice this during the day, take a few moments to focus on the breath, and the feeling of loving-kindness; then try to a round of the phrases for yourself.  This begins to shift your conditioned mind as you are bringing these patterns to light and responding to them with loving-kindness and compassion.

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.  Are you able to connect with the energy of loving-kindness a few times as you go about your day?  How is your practice going?  Are you able to commit some time everyday?  If yes, how does it feel?  If not, what’s getting in the way?  Do you need to adjust the time or place to make it workable?  What beliefs are you aware of that keep you from your practice and from loving yourself more fully?

I’d love to hear how your explorations are going.  May you have a very beautiful and loving day.

If you’d like to connect with others doing the May Is For Metta Practice, Request to join our Facebook group


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Metta For Mother Earth ~ Happy Earth Day!

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“All nature that we behold is the mother aspect of God, because in nature we find beauty, gentleness, and kindness. The flowers, birds, and the beauties of nature all speak of the Mother aspect of God-the creative motherly instinct of God. When we look at all the good things in nature, we feel a tenderness rise within us; we can see and feel God in nature.

The Divine Mother is so beautiful! But remember, in Her higher manifestation even that beauty is formless. She is in everything. Her divine, compassionate love is expressed in the raindrops. Her beauty is reflected in the colors of the rainbow. She offers fresh hope to mankind with the rose-tinted clouds at dawn.

Above all, be ever conscious of Her presence in your heart.” 

– Paramahansa Yogananda

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May Is For Metta 2015 is coming soon to a cushion near you! One of the beautiful practices that has emerged during each May Is For Metta is being able to celebrate Mother’s Day during our practice period; a part of that practice has been offering Metta for our Mother Earth.  Since Earth Day is today, I thought what better way to celebrate here on HOA than to offer a simple Metta practice to honor our Earth Mother.

Metta For Mother Earth

Find a comfortable position either sitting on a chair with feet flat on the floor or sitting on the floor cross-legged with a cushion below.  Have your spine straight but not tense, shoulders and stomach relaxed, your hands on your knees or your lap.  Gently close your eyes.

Take a few moments to settle in. Bring your awareness to your breath without deepening or changing it – simply notice the in and out breaths for a few cycles. 

Spend a few moments generating the energy of loving-kindness and compassion for yourself.  Think of a moment when you felt held in unconditional love – perhaps with a parent, grandparent, good friend, mentor or favorite pet. Allow yourself to bathe in that feeling of being held in unconditional love and compassion. This feeling is the foundation of Metta.

Begin to offer the Metta phrases to yourself for a few rounds:

  • 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, begin to invite an image of Mother Earth into your mind.  This may be by imagining holding the whole earth in your mind’s eye or in your hands; or by simply going to one of your favorite places in nature and connecting there with Mother Earth.  Once again, take a few moment to cultivate that feeling of loving-kindness and compassion and then begin to offer Metta to Mother Earth by enveloping her in these heart qualities.  When you feel ready, move on to offering the phrases to Mother Earth:

  • May you be happy.
  • May y0u be peaceful.
  • May you be free of suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

Spend as long as you feel to practicing Metta for Mother Earth.  When you feel ready to move on, let her image go and return to your heart center.  Spend a few moments allowing yourself to open your heart to receive love and deepen your experience of the sacred space within your being.

Sometimes offering Metta to a larger entity or group is challenging – this is something we explore during May Is For Metta as we work with the category of All Beings.  If you find this is the case or if your wish to practice even further, you may wish to choose certain categories to work with such as:

  • All Our Animals
  • All Our Plants
  • All Our Waters
  • All Our Stones
  • All Our Winged Ones – Birds, Bees, Butterflies, etc.

Also, you can choose a specific tree, rock, stream, etc. that you feel connected to as a representation of Mother Earth.  Feel free to explore practicing in various ways.  You may wish to do this as part of a sitting practice or as you move about your day; and it doesn’t just have to happen today on Earth Day, it’s a wonderful way to connect everyday!

One of my favorite practices when I lived in New York City was to offer Metta to the trees I passed on the street as I walked.  This helped me to connect to nature in the big city and I believe it helped the trees, too, in some way that cannot be defined.  Today is a wonderful today to take your practice out into the world to celebrate Mother Earth and to connect more deeply with our natural world.  Happy Earth Day!

Tashi Deleh!

I honor the greatness within you!

P.S. You are invited to join us in May Is For Metta 2015: 31 Days Of Loving-kindness Meditation, a virtual gathering that happens here on HOA from May 1st to 31st each year. #MIFM2015

Day 20 ~ May Is For Metta 2014: Bringing Our Practice Together

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Ten Thousand flowers in spring, the moon 
in autumn,

A cool breeze in summer, snow in winter-

If your mind is not clouded by unnecessary things, 

this is the best season of your life.  ~ Chinese Proverb

May Is For Metta 2014

Today, we will continue our practice of Metta by  working with all of the categories to experience the full practice of Metta.   If for some reason this feels too much, just choose a few to work with for today.  A question arose about the phrases which I have been exploring and pondering during this  year’s practice.   The question had to do with the difference between the Metta phrases and affirmations and wondering why not to use statements like, “I am happy, I am peaceful, I am free of suffering, etc.” rather than “May I be…”.   I am sure there are some complex answers to this and yet, the simple one that has arisen is that rather than affirming, when we use the Metta phrases we are inviting those qualities to begin to arise.  We may not be that in this moment, but we are inviting the qualities of loving-kindness and compassion to arise within us and then offering that they arise for others in the same way.  There feels like there is some fertile ground for exploration and discussion of this topic, so feel free to comment on the post here or drop a note on our on Facebook page with your reflections on the phrases.

Also, I came across this explanation of what Metta “is not” on the Wildmind Buddhist Meditation website which feels like it may be helpful:

  • Metta isn’t the same thing as feeling good, although when we feel metta we do feel more complete, and usually feel more joyful and happy.  But it’s possible to feel good and for that not to be metta. We can feel good, but be rather selfish and inconsiderate, for example.  Metta has a quality of caring about others.
  • Metta isn’t self-sacrifice.  A metta-full individual is not someone who always puts others before themselves.  Metta has a quality of appreciation, and we need to learn to appreciate ourselves as well as others.
  • Metta isn’t something unknown.  We all experience Metta.  Every time you feel pleasure in seeing someone do well, or are patient with someone who’s a bit difficult, or are considerate and ask someone what they think, you’re experiencing Metta.
  • Metta isn’t denying your experience.  To practice Metta doesn’t mean “being nice” in a false way.  It means that even if you don’t like someone, you can still have their welfare at heart.
  • Metta isn’t all or nothing.  Metta exists in degrees, and can be expressed in such simple ways as simple as politeness and courtesy.

As we work with the phrases, it is good to find ones that work for us and also, to explore the ones we struggle with.  It’s all about being open to our experience and what is arising in each moment within ourselves.  Really, the phrases are merely translating the energetic quality of loving-kindness and compassion into language and so if you find yourself struggling with a phrase, it may be helpful to return to a time when you felt that energy or imagine yourself again in your circle of loving beings.

Daily Practice:

Once again, find a comfortable position.  Do your foundational practices.  Imagine yourself in the center of a 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: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person and All Beings.  Or, if you prefer, choose a few categories to work with today.  You may even want to offer Metta for more than one person in a particular category.  Be open to exploring what feels good to you, but also consider exploring the full practice today or tomorrow just to see how it feels to work with all of the categories. There is a wonderful opportunity to explore how we respond to others and the world as we work with the various categories and sometimes it is helpful to flow through the full practice to see where we experience openness and spaciousness and where our resistance resides.

During your practice, if you become distracted at any point or difficult feelings arise, use the switch back, returning your practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  Then, return your practice to the category 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.

When you feel complete with all of the categories you are practicing for today, dedicate the merit of your practice:

  • May all beings have happiness and it’s cause.
  • May all beings be free of suffering, joyous content and at ease.
  • May all beings be balanced in equanimity towards one and all.
  • May the merit of my practice be for my own benefit and for that of all sentient beings

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.   Are you noticing openness or resistance to certain phrases?  Have you found phrases that feel good to you?  How does it feel to do a more expanded practice?  Are you able to make the time and space to practice?  Are you remembering to be gentle and loving with yourself?

May you all have a peaceful and loving day.

Namaste.

**********************************************************

If you are interested in receiving additional support to develop or deepen your meditation practice or work on cultivating greater loving-kindness for yourself, consider one of the optional levels:

Level I: Blog Posts + 31 Daily Audio Message/Guided Meditation Practices delivered to you through email each morning ~ $31

You will receive a catalogue of audios from Day 1 to present which can be accessed online or downloaded.  A new message will be delivered each day thru May 31st.

Sample Day 2 Of May Is For Metta Audio Message

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Day 19 ~ May Is For Metta 2014: Expanding Our Metta To All Beings

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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

May Is For Metta 2014

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.  

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.

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.  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

 

 

Day 14 ~ May Is For Metta 2014: Loving-kindness For Neutral Beings

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“Loving-kindness meditation accords with zen’s Bodhisattva vow, in confirming that our awakening is mutually grounded in the interdependence of all beings, rather than being a self-centered endeavor.  Loving-kindness is sometimes misconstrued as an attempt to conjure up good feelings, or to see ourselves as loving or kind.  However, its function is to invite the awakening of compassion and empathy, aspects of our being.” – Elizabeth Hamilton

May Is For Metta 2014

Today, we will continue our practice of Metta for Neutral beings.   As the neutral person is not so “real’ to us, it is often harder to elicit feelings for this person.  For this reason, it can be helpful to work with the same neutral person for a few days.   Sometimes, people feel bored with this category, as there is not as much emotional charge as with a friend or enemy.  It may be harder to hold one’s attention on the neutral person.  Staying attentive can be a challenge in Metta as well as during meditation practice in general.  However, we are working to focus our awareness.  This practice offers a wonderful opportunity to stay present with our experience, bringing our attention and consciousness to a place where we may often be inattentive and unconscious.

Choose two or three Neutral beings to work with.  You may do this as part of a sitting practice and/or explore using Metta when you are out and about in the world.  When you are on the street, in the store, or at the gym, try choosing a Neutral person you see and silently say the phrases for this person.  This is an opportunity to offer loving-kindness and support to someone without needing to take outward action.  It is an inner offering and it is a way we can bring more loving-kindness and compassion into the world.

Daily Practice: 

Do your foundational practices. Begin to cultivate loving-kindness for yourself by connecting with your heart or imagining yourself in your circle of loving beings.  Offer Metta to yourself by using the phrases you have been working with:

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

When you feel immersed in the energy of loving-kindness for yourself, bring the image of a Neutral person into your awareness.  Once you have called this person to mind, allow yourself to make a heart connection with this person.  Perhaps send some of the loving-kindness you have cultivated from your heart to their heart center.  Notice how it feels to offer loving-kindness to a Neutral being.  Say inwardly, “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, may you be happy and free from suffering.”  Then, begin repeating the phrases for this Neutral person:

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

Just notice what arises as you practice.  If your mind wanders or thoughts arise, bring your awareness back to the neutral person and continue repeating the phrases.  As always, if difficult emotions or distractions dominate your attention, return to your heart center, repeating the phrases for yourself until you feel clearer and calmer.  When  you feel to, return your practice to the neutral person.  Continue on to one or two other Neutral beings.  Remember you can also take your practice with you as you go about your day.

Practice as long as you feel to or have committed to for today.  When you feel complete, return to your heart center.  Spend a few moments reflecting on your practice.  Notice how it felt to connect with Neutral beings.  Part of our practice is experiencing the relationship that we have with all beings; this is part of being human, being alive and living on Earth at this time.  We share a common experience whether we know each other or not.  Metta offers an opportunity to acknowledge and honor our interconnectedness with all beings on a deeper and more conscious level.

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 has it been to practice Metta for Neutral beings?  Did you practice for someone as you went about your day?  Are you continuing to be gentle and loving with yourself?  Have you noticed any difference in your sense of connection to self, others and the world since you began your Metta practice?

May you have a joyful day.

*******************************************************************

If you are interested in receiving additional support to develop or deepen your meditation practice or work on cultivating greater loving-kindness for yourself, consider one of the optional levels:

Level I: Blog Posts + 31 Daily Audio Message/Guided Meditation Practices delivered to you through email each morning ~ $31

Sample Day 2 Of May Is For Metta Audio Message

Level II: Blog Posts + 31 Daily Audios +  One-On-One Integrative Transformational Healing Session with Beth Terrence in person in Annapolis, MD,  or by Phone or Skype  ~ $108

Register Now

 

 

Day 13 ~ May Is For Metta 2014: Loving-kindness For A Neutral Being

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May Is For Metta 2014

“My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness.” ~ H.H. Dalai Lama

Today, we will move our practice of Metta to the category of a Neutral being.  This category is the beginning of expanding our practice from our circle of connection to the broader field of all beings.  Here, with the Neutral person, we begin to practice for those we don’t have a personal relationship with, knowing that they, too, deserve happiness as all beings do.

In this stage, we cultivate loving-kindness for a Neutral being; this is someone we have no strong feelings towards.  This person is not a friend, nor are we in conflict with them.  We simply feel neutral towards them.  Most likely, the majority of people we encounter in life fall into this category.  As we walk along the streets or go shopping, we encounter so many people that there is a tendency to put our emotions in neutral and in a sense ignore those who are around us.  It is not always possible to have a real emotional relationship or connection with everyone we meet, particularly when we live in high population areas.  In this part of the practice, we learn to focus our attention on those beings that we tend to have no specific feelings for and may not even notice.

Living a large portion of my life in New York City, I learned to tune out a lot of what was going on around me.  In many ways, it was a necessary life skill to function on a daily basis and not feel overwhelmed by so much energy and activity.  It was also a great place to cultivate a practice of Metta as it afforded me the opportunity to connect inwardly and offer loving-kindness when I could not connect outwardly.  Practicing Metta offers a powerful way to create connection with what is going around us in a more energetic way, within the container of our own experience.

Working with the category of a Neutral person opens a doorway to relating more to the world and the people who are around us on a daily basis.  It helps to bring us into greater awareness in those spaces where we may tend to check out or become less conscious. This is one of the great gifts of this part of the practice.  On one level we are practicing offering loving-kindness for the neutral person; on another, we are accessing a place where we often move into “neutrality” and instead are becoming more conscious and awake.

Daily Practice:

Do your foundational practices. Once again, we begin by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for our own self as the foundation for offering it to others.  Get comfortable and settle 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 are loving.  Allow yourself to feel enveloped in this love.  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 of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

When you feel immersed in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion, invite the image of a Neutral being into your mind.  Pick someone you just happened to notice as you went about your day today or yesterday, perhaps the cashier at the supermarket, someone you passed on the street, or the person sitting across from you on the subway or bus.  The neutral person is not someone you like or dislike; you have no specific feelings for this person.  Once you have called this person to mind, begin by saying inwardly, “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, may you be happy and free from suffering.”  Then, begin repeating the phrases for this Neutral person:

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

Notice what arises as you practice.  If your mind wanders or thoughts arise, just bring your awareness back to the Neutral person and continue repeating the phrases.  As always, if difficult emotions dominate your attention, re-center yourself in loving-kindness and repeat the phrases for yourself until you feel clearer and calmer.  Then, return your practice to the Neutral person.

Practice as long as you feel to or have committed to for today.  When you feel complete, return to your heart center.  Spend a few moments reflecting on your practice.  Notice how it felt to connect with a Neutral person.  For some, this category is more difficult.  This category is one that can easily be applied to our daily life.  I hope you will explore working with it in your sitting practice and as you go about your day.

Take a few moments to dedicate the merit of your practice asking that it benefit your self, others and all beings without exception.

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 practice Metta for a Neutral person?  Was it different from practicing for your self, a benefactor or a Beloved?  How is your practice going?  Are you able to continue making some time everyday to sit or practice in some way?  If not, what is stopping you?  What is your commitment to yourself right now in terms of making time to bring more loving-kindness into your life?   Take some time to reflect on your experience so far.  Jot down anything you have noticed and any insight you have gained.

Wishing you a day filled with peace, happiness and ease of well-being.

Namaste.

******************************************************

If you are interested in receiving additional support to develop or deepen your meditation practice or work on cultivating greater loving-kindness for yourself, consider one of the optional levels:

Level I: Blog Posts + 31 Daily Audio Message/Guided Meditation Practices delivered to you through email each morning ~ $31

Sample Day 2 Of May Is For Metta Audio Message

Level II: Blog Posts + 31 Daily Audios +  One-On-One Integrative Transformational Healing Session with Beth Terrence in person in Annapolis, MD,  or by Phone or Skype  ~ $108

Register Now

 

 

Day 10 ~ May Is For Metta 2014: Offering Loving-kindness To A Beloved

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“The light of loving-kindness can be compared to that of the stars, the sun, or the moon.  It shines on all loving beings everywhere, encompassing them all without exception or bias.”

Excerpt from Living With Your Heart Wide Open by Steve Flowers & Bob Stahl

May Is For Metta 2014

As our journey with May Is For Metta continues today, just take a few moments to honor yourself for the efforts you are making to be more conscious and awake.  Know that you are strengthening the energies of loving-kindness and compassion in your self, others and the world with each moment you dedicate to practice, whether in formal practice or by bringing Metta into your daily life.  This is a transformational process of integrating the energy of the heart into our lives, our relationships and our world.  Imagine if each person would take this time as we are, what our world might be like.

Today, we will move our practice of Metta to the category of a Beloved.  This could be a family member or close friend.  Beloveds are those we have built close relationship with; those whom we trust and feel positive towards.  Take a moment to select a few friends or family members;  feel into who  you feel most called to do the practice for today.  Call up the image of each one, feel into your heart and say a round of phrases.  Which one feels most resonant right now?  This practice is helping you to choose but also helping you to experience more of what is in your heart and how to make choices that are in alignment with your heart.  Learning to let your heart be your guide is a part of moving into a new way of being.

Daily Practice: 

Do your foundational practices.  We begin as always by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves as this is the foundation for offering it to others.  Get comfortable and settle into your breath.  Spend a few moments centering on your heart. Imagine yourself sitting in a circle surrounded by loving beings.  Say a few rounds of phrases for your self or spend longer as you feel to.

  • May I be safe.
  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free from suffering.

When you feel centered in the energy of loving-kindness bring an image of the Beloved you have chosen clearly into your mind.  Let yourself feel what it feels like to be in the presence of that being.  Allow yourself to enjoy being with that person.  Begin by saying to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, may you be happy and free from suffering.”  Then begin repeating the phrases for your Beloved:

  • May he/she be safe.
  • May he/she be happy.
  • May he/she be peaceful.
  • May he/she be free from suffering.

Find the language for the phrases that works best for you.  You may wish to refer to this other being as YOU, talking to them directly, you may wish to use their NAME or you may wish to use the THIRD person, He or She.  Explore this a bit and see what works for you.

Often, offering Metta for the Beloved may feel easy for you.  Usually, we are deepening the already good feelings we have for this person.  However, sometimes difficult feelings may arise.  You may feel anxiety or worry for your Beloved friend or family member.  You may remember something upsetting that happened in relating with them and feel angry, annoyed or frustrated.  You may feel envious of some experience your Beloved is having, a happier relationship, a better job or a more carefree life.  Just know that these are natural feelings to have as a human being.

If you do have difficult emotions arising, just notice and gently return to the Metta phrases for your Beloved.  Know it is the nature of the mind to take us to these places in ourselves; it is the practice of meditation to return to the present moment and to the place we choose to place our attention.  Even when it’s challenging, this is the place of freedom, when we are in the moment and all of those thoughts, feelings and memories do not define us.  Use the phrases to bring yourself back to the moment and to offering loving-kindness to your Beloved one.

If at any point, difficult emotions continue to dominate your attention, return to repeating the phrases for yourself as this is an important part of practicing loving-kindness – we work with all of who we are, the parts we like and the parts we don’t like.  We are bringing to light those shadow parts that cause us so much pain and suffering.  In response, we are not rejecting ourselves or judging ourselves, but we are accepting and loving ourselves unconditionally.  This is one of the great gifts of Metta and one of the most powerful gifts we can offer to ourselves and to others.

Practice as long as you feel to or have committed to for today.  Take a few moments at the end to dedicate the merit of your practice for all beings. You can do this in any way that feels appropriate to you and we will explore this more later on in our practice.  Here is a simple way to dedicate the merit of your practice for all beings:

  • May all beings have happiness and it’s cause.
  • May all beings be free of suffering, joyous content and at ease.
  • May all beings be balanced in equanimity towards one and all.
  • May the merit of my practice be for my own benefit and for that of all sentient beings.

Daily Journal Reflections:

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 practice Metta for a Beloved?   Was it different from practicing for a Benefactor/Mentor?  How is your practice going?  Are you able to continue making some time everyday to sit or practice in some way?  If not, what is stopping you?  What is your commitment to yourself right now in terms of making time to bring more loving-kindness into your life?

Remember, practicing can be any way that works for your?  Five minutes will do if that’s all you have.  Research has shown that 15 minutes a day of Loving-kindness practice can create a positive shift in our overall attitude toward life.

May you experience a blessed and joyful day.

Namaste.

*********************************************

If you are interested in receiving additional support to develop or deepen your meditation practice or work on cultivating greater loving-kindness for yourself, consider one of the optional levels:

Level I: Blog Posts + 31 Daily Audio Message/Guided Meditation Practices delivered to you through email each morning ~ $31

Sample Day 2 Of May Is For Metta Audio Message

Level II: Blog Posts + 31 Daily Audios +  One-On-One Integrative Transformational Healing Session with Beth Terrence in person in Annapolis, MD,  or by Phone or Skype  ~ $108

Register Now

 

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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If you are interested in receiving additional support to develop or deepen your meditation practice or work on cultivating greater loving-kindness for yourself, consider one of the optional levels:

Level I: Blog Posts + 31 Daily Audio Message/Guided Meditation Practices delivered to you through email each morning ~ $31

Sample Day 2 Of May Is For Metta Audio Message

Level II: Blog Posts + 31 Daily Audios +  One-On-One Integrative Transformational Healing Session with Beth Terrence in person in Annapolis, MD,  or by Phone or Skype  ~ $108

Register Now

 

 

 

Day 3 ~ May Is For Metta 2014: Offering Loving-kindness To Ourselves

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“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of our love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”Buddha

May Is For Metta 2014

Our relationship with ourselves is the foundation for all of our relationships – with others, with nature and with the world.  Our cultivation of love, acceptance and good- heartedness towards ourselves will facilitate our ability to offer Metta to others in a genuine way.  It is essential that we do not neglect this aspect of practice and it is why we are moving gradually as we develop our Metta practice.

For many of us, our nature is to move fast and to get to the point of it all.  Often, in moving that way, we miss the essence of what we are working to cultivate and the awareness that arises from being present to the moment.   One of the major lessons of the heart, which I have learned from many of my teachers, is the need to slow down to move into the heart space.  The mind moves quickly, the heart moves slowly and is accessed through entering into the still space within.

Today, we will begin using the Metta phrases in our practice with a continued focus on loving ourselves.  Some of us may not be used to spending so much time on ourselves in this way.  We may come up against our resistance, our judgments, and all of the ways we hold our mistakes and shortcomings against us.  We may even doubt the value of dedicating time and effort to this practice.  We may feel we don’t deserve love and compassion.  And yet, our goal is to love ourselves completely, which includes all the things we may not like about ourselves.

At this time, it is important to remember to be gentle and loving with yourself.  When a new shoot emerges from the ground, it needs to break through; there is effort involved.  You are creating a new way of being; it requires effort and even some discomfort.  Consider this practice as if you are starting a new workout program – wouldn’t you expect to feel sore or out of shape at the beginning?  Wouldn’t you have some resistance and not really want to show up?   I am hoping you will show up in some way and just notice what is arising.  Even a short workout, can be beneficial in building your “muscles” of loving-kindness and compassion.

You may like to take some time today to consider your commitment to practice – where, when, how long, etc.  We have been creating a foundation that will be used throughout our month of practice and possibly beyond.  Coming to your place of practice, moving into your meditation posture, working with your breath, beginning to connect with the heart center and connecting with your circle of loving beings will be what we will refer to going forward as the “foundational practice”.

So, you can explore how you wish to begin your Metta practice and also, this may become your foundation for all of your meditation practice.  It is up to you which aspects are most important; it is about finding ways to begin that bring you into the moment and help to center you in the energy of loving-kindness.  It can be beneficial if you come to your practice the same way each day, but there is room to take time and explore what works for you.  Review the practices for Day 1 and Day 2 if you feel to, especially if you are just joining in.  Today we will begin to incorporate the Metta phrases into our practice.

There are a variety of Metta phrases and you will see different ones as you begin to explore.  It is good to find 3 – 4 phrases that you feel resonant with.  Feel free to explore with different phrases, especially during the first week of practice to find what feels best for you.  Here are some suggestions. I have grouped them together but you can mix and match 3 or 4, as you feel called to.

  • May I be free from danger.
  • May I have physical happiness.
  • May I have mental happiness.
  • May I have ease of well-being.
  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.
  • May I be happy and peaceful.
  • May I be healthy and strong.
  • May I care for myself, joyfully.
  • May I be safe from inner and outer harm.
  • May I be safe from internal and external harm.
  • May I have a calm, clear mind and a peaceful loving heart.
  • May I be physically strong, healthy and vital.
  • May I experience love, joy, wonder and wisdom in this life just as it is.
  • May I be happy.
  • May I be at peace.
  • May I live with ease.
  • May I be free from suffering.

The purpose of the phrases is two-fold.  One, they are the catalyst for cultivating loving-kindness and compassion and for showering ourselves with those qualities.  Two, they are the anchor for this practice.  They are the center that we come back to when our mind wanders or as we notice we have become distracted.  So, when the mind wanders, as it will, as it is the nature of the mind, we just gently and lovingly bring ourselves back to the next phrase.  If we find we have totally wandered off, we simply begin with the next set of phrases.

Daily Practice:

Do the foundational practice – Come to your place of practice, move into your meditation posture, work with your breath, begin to connect with the heart center and connect with your circle of loving beings.  Spend as much time to as you feel to generating the energy of loving-kindness – remember this is the heart of the practice. 

When you feel ready begin to work with 3 or 4 of the phrases you have chosen for today.  The phrases are repeated silently to oneself.  Sometimes, they are repeated aloud and we will explore this later on, but for now, let’s repeat them silently.  You can repeat one phrase per breath, alternate one on the inhale and one on the exhale, or find a rhythm that feels good to you. Also, you don’t necessarily have to focus on the breath at all; you can just focus on the phrases, especially for now.

Let the meaning of the phrase gently wash over you. You are affirming to yourself and to the universe that you desire to be safe, happy and peaceful.  If at any point you feel disconnected from the energy of loving-kindness, you can always go back to your heart center and your circle of loving beings.  This is the foundation of your practice; the phrases symbolize Metta but generating the essence of loving-kindness is the true practice.  Spend as much as time as you have dedicated to your practice for today.

When you finish with the phrases, you may wish to reconnect with your circle of loving beings for a moment and then, in whatever way you feel to give thanks or gratitude for your practice. 

Daily Journal Reflections:  

How did it feel to work with the phrases?  Were they a good anchor for your practice?  Did you notice your mind was less busy using the phrases?  Were you able to stay connected to the energy of loving-kindness as you repeated the phrases?  Did you practice in the way you intended to today?  If you did not practice in the way you intended to, are you still being gentle and loving with yourself?  How does it feel to be cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for your self?  Did you notice any ways your resist loving yourself?

I hope you enjoy beginning to work with the phrases.  Wishing you a happy, peaceful and loving day!

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If you are interested in additional support to develop or deepen your meditation practice or work on cultivating greater loving-kindness for yourself, consider one of the optional levels:

Level I: Blog Posts + Daily Audio Message/Guided Meditation Practice ~ $31

Level II: Blog Posts + Daily Audios +  One-On-One session in person, by phone or skype with facilitator Beth Terrence ~ $108

Register Now!

 

Day 1 ~ May Is For Metta 2014: Our Journey Of Loving-kindness Begins

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Welcome to May is for Metta 2014!  Today is the first day of our annual 31-Day Exploration Of Loving-kindness here on The Heart Of Awakening Blog.   Each day will offer an exploration, guided meditation practice and journaling reflection in Metta, Loving-kindness meditation.

The intention of May Is For Metta is to support:

  • Cultivating greater loving-kindness and compassion in ourselves, others and the world
  • Developing or deepening in a daily meditation practice
  • Reflecting and expanding our self-awareness through contemplative practice, sharing in community, and journaling exercises

If you are new to May Is For Metta and would like to learn a bit more about it, you can explore the following:

May Is For Metta Page

May Is For Metta 2014! Coming Soon To A Cushion Near You

May Is For Metta ~ A Journey Of Loving-kindness On Heal My Voice Radio

Over the course of the next 31 days, we will be exploring cultivating greater loving-kindness and compassion in our lives, our relationships and our world.  Our vehicle will be the Buddhist practice of Metta (Loving-kindness) Meditation.  We will begin gradually with the focus on cultivating loving-kindness for ourselves.  In the Buddhist tradition, it is understood that in order to have the ability to offer loving-kindness and compassion to others, we must have a foundation of loving-kindness towards ourselves.

For many Westerners, this is something that can go against our grain.  We may have been taught to love others first or even that loving ourselves is selfish.  This is something we will be exploring during our journey together.  For now, I encourage you to just be open and notice what arises as you enter into the container of May Is For Metta.  There will be lots of support to work with our resistance and to shift our patterns towards greater loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves.

There will also be lots of support around creating a daily meditation practice.  Take some time to decide where you will do your practice and when.  It can be helpful to have a set place to practice that is clear and quiet.  You may wish to designate a meditation area in your home or office for this exploration.  However, do not let this be an obstacle.  As Mindfulness Meditation Teacher & Author Jon Kabat-Zinn says in his popular book title, “Wherever you go, there you are.”  So, wherever you can find the time and space to practice can the perfect place to start. Also, this is something you can explore during the practice period.

Meditating first thing in the morning can be a great way to start the day if you can create room to do so.  If not, just find a time that works for you.  For instance, if lunchtime is the only time you have, perhaps going outside is a good way to practice this time of year.  Be open and creative in finding a time and space that feels good to you whether it is in your home or elsewhere.  Last year, one of our participants shared that after struggling for a while to find a place to practice at home where there were many obstacles, she started doing her May Is For Metta practice in her car right as she arrived at work.

Consistency can be helpful in terms of where you practice, when you practice and for how long; this is something we will explore in the coming month, but feel free to be creative in your process – this is your journey!  Consider May Is For Metta as an opportunity to explore different aspects of meditation practice and to develop a structure that supports you where you are and where you would like to be on your path of transformation.

Daily Practice:

As we begin, find a comfortable position for your body. This can be on a chair or on the floor.  If you are on a chair, it is good to sit with your spine straight and feet flat on the floor.  Sometimes, it helps to put a pillow behind your back for support or to sit at the leading edge of the chair rather than leaning back.  If you are on the floor, sit cross-legged or in lotus posture.  Make sure to have a cushion or blanket to sit on and adjust your leg position so that you feel comfortable.

Once you come into your sitting position, check that your spine is straight, but not tense; shoulders and stomach relaxed.  Your hands can rest on your knees or your lap.  Allow your chin to tuck slightly toward your chest.   Let the eyes close, or if you prefer, leave your eyes open, gazing softly at the floor in front of you.

Begin with a few deep breaths, breathing in for a count of five and out for a count of five. It is helpful to allow the body and the mind to relax.  Take a moment to scan the body for any areas of tension or discomfort.  Allow the next few breaths to wash over those areas melting away any tensions.  Also, scan the mind for any thoughts, worries or busyness of the day.

Bring your breath and awareness to the heart center in the center of your chest.  Notice how it feels to be present in the heart.  This is the center of love, compassion, gentleness and mercy for yourself and for others.  As we begin, we connect with the energy of our own heart.  When the Buddha spoke of Metta he used the example of a mother’s love for a child; he taught that we need to love all beings as a mother loves her child.  The essence of Metta practice is generating the feeling of loving-kindness and compassion to create that foundation for ourselves and then share it with others and the world. We will explore a few ways to cultivate this feeling.

To begin, take a few moments to recall a time when you felt loved totally held in unconditional love and compassion.  Sometimes calling on the memory of a moment with a grandparent, good friend or even a loving pet is a way to generate this feeling. There may be a certain place such as a childhood home or place in nature, which brings on this feeling for you.  Imagine yourself in that moment and let that feeling, that quality of loving-kindness and compassion fill your whole being, every atom and cell.

This is the quality of Metta, or Loving-kindness; this is where our practice begins.  Allow yourself to simply spend some time just being with this feeling.  If your mind wanders or distractions arise, just remember to come back to the quality, the feeling or the image of the moment you have called on to generate it.  Breathe that feeling right into the center of your chest, into your heart center.  Allow yourself to spend some time being present in the heart, with the quality of loving-kindness.

This is your practice for today.  We are beginning by keeping it simple and exploring the essence of Metta, the feeling of loving-kindness.  If the chance arises and you remember, try to connect with this feeling of loving-kindness as you go about your day.  Bring your breath and awareness to your heart center whenever you feel to.  Simply notice how it feels to connect in this new way.

Today is the day to invite loving-kindness and compassion into your life in a more conscious way.  Although not required, it can be helpful to create a journal for this practice period and to spend a few minutes in the evening to reflect on your daily practice and exploration.

Daily Journal Reflections

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  What did you notice?  Did you find time to practice today?  If yes, how did it feel?  If no, what stopped you?  Did you decide on a place to practice? What will help you to practice tomorrow?  How did it feel to connect with your heart center and the feeling of loving-kindness? Are there any obstacles to your practice that you are aware of?

Feel free to ask questions or share your experiences and reflections in the comments below or on The Heart Of Awakening Facebook page.

An important message from your host & facilitator, Beth Terrence

This practice is about loving-kindness and compassion.  For many of us, our tendency is to be harsh and critical with ourselves.  When we begin a new practice, we set high standards and when we don’t meet them, we tend to beat ourselves up emotionally.  This is an excellent opportunity to change that pattern, to approach change and growth from a place of gentleness and self-love rather than harshness and self-hate.

As Zen teacher, Cheri Huber, says, “If you had a person in your life treating you the way you treat yourself, you would have gotten rid of them a long time ago…”.   So, however your practice unfolds, remember to be gentle and loving with yourself.   This time is a gift you are giving to yourself to support your personal journey of transformation and healing. Let’s allow it to be a space to transform our harshness into gentleness and our self-hate into self-love.  This is truly the heart of our practice.

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If you are interested in additional support to develop or deepen your meditation practice or work on cultivating greater loving-kindness for yourself, consider one of the optional levels:

Level I: Blog Posts + Daily Audio Message/Guided Meditation Practice ~ $31

Level II: Blog Posts + Daily Audios +  One-On-One session by phone or skype with facilitator Beth Terrence ~ $108

Register Now!

 

May Is For Metta ~ A Journey In Loving-kindness on Heal My Voice Radio

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I had a great chat about May Is For Metta today with Andrea Hylen, the founder of Heal My Voice, on Blog Talk Radio.  We discussed how May Is For Metta developed, what it’s all about and explored a guided meditation practice.  This is a great chance to learn what May Is For Metta is all about and see if it’s for you!  We also talked a bit about the Harmonious Voices Project, which is a collaborative Heal My Voice book that will be released May 28th and includes my story, “I’m Okay, Really!”

Listen Now!

There are a number of ways to participate in May Is For Metta 2014.  The daily guided practice is free and is featured on The Heart Of Awakening Blog from May 1st to 31st.   New this year are two optional levels for those who would like additional support during the practice time.  Options include:

Level I: Daily Blog Posts + 31 Daily Audio Message/Guided Meditation Practices ~ $31

Level II: Blog Posts + 31 Daily Audios +  One-On-One session by phone or skype with facilitator Beth Terrence ~ $108

To participate:

  • “JOIN” The Heart Of Awakening Blog community through the sign up box on the top right of this page to receive free daily posts through  Wordpress or email
  • “REGISTER” through Eventbrite to receive free daily posts via email or to sign up for optional levels which include daily audios and/or a one-on-one session to support your practice and exploration.  There are additional fees for the optional levels.  Register Now!
  • “LIKE” The Heart Of Awakening Facebook page
  • “DONATE” – If you have enjoyed May Is For Metta and The Heart Of Awakening Blog, consider making a donation to support this year’s event and all of the offerings on HOA.  Donations can also be made through Eventbrite.  Learn more…

If you have any questions or would like additional information, please feel free to drop me a note.

Looking forward to our journey together this year!

Namaste.

Beth 

Gratitude: A Path To The Heart And Happiness, Too!

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Heart Of Hope

The mission of The Heart Of Awakening Blog is to support:
  • Living from the Heart
  • Embodying Awareness, Authenticity and Purpose
  • Integrating a Holistic Approach to Being
  • Embracing the Interconnectedness of All Things
  • Honoring and Respecting the Sacredness of Life

One of the best practices for opening the heart and keeping it open is the practice of Gratitude.  It is important to stress the word “practice” as it is one thing to experience a feeling of gratitude and another to actively work with it.  Over the month of December, we will be exploring a variety of ways to practice Gratitude in daily life.

When we speak about practice, whether it be exercise, meditation or gratitude practice, we know there can be many obstacles to developing a new practice or sustaining an ongoing one.  You may even ask “why should I practice gratitude?”  Aren’t there other ways I can be more open-hearted?  I would answer “yes and no”.  Yes, there are many ways to open the heart but gratitude is one of the most powerful ways.  Also, without an experience of gratitude it is difficult to maintain an open heart.

Spiritual traditions have honored the practice of gratitude for thousand of years and now science is getting on board as well.  There are a number of ongoing research projects on gratitude.  One is led by Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and author of the book Thanks: How The New Science Of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.  Here is an overview of Dr. Emmons research on how Gratitude affects both psychological and physical well-being (Source: http://gratitudepower.net/science.htm):

  • In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).
  • A related benefit was observed in the realm of personal goal attainment:  Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.
  • A daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others).  There was no difference in levels of unpleasant emotions reported in the three groups.
  • Participants in the daily gratitude condition were more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or having offered emotional support to another, relative to the hassles or social comparison condition.
  • In a sample of adults with neuromuscular disease, a 21-day gratitude intervention resulted in greater amounts of high energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one’s life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality, relative to a control group.

So, as you can see there are many potential benefits from the practice of Gratitude.  Wouldn’t you like to have more energy? Sleep better? Be more optimistic? Feel more connected to others? Have less stress?  Live a happier life?

Making A Gratitude List:  Take a few moments after reading this post to make a Gratitude list just for today.  It can be as short or long as you’d like.  You may want to put it in your journal or create a special Gratitude notebook.  You may just want to write it on a slip of paper and when you are done recycle it.  It’s not necessarily something you need to keep, but it’s what feels right to you.  For some people it helps to have a list to look back on when they are having a bad day or just want to review what they have been grateful for.  Keep it simple and make it work for you.  Taking just a few moments everyday to practice Gratitude can make a big difference in how you experience life.

Are you ready to cultivate an attitude of Gratitude to see what’s possible?

Here is my Gratitude list for today as an example.  Feel free to share yours in the comments below if you feel to as well as any reflections or comments on the practice of Gratitude.

Today, I am grateful for:

  1. Being Alive
  2. Visiting with family and friends over the holiday
  3. Doing work I love to do
  4. Books
  5. The sense of fun my cats bring to my life
  6. My loving relationship
  7. Going for a walk today
  8. Feeling my feelings even when they are intense
  9. The joy of writing
  10. Having a warm home and a bed to sleep in
  11. The sound of the wind chimes ringing outside my window

30 Gratitude Quotes To Inspire You!

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Thanksgiving may be over but cultivating an attitude of gratitude is something we can do everyday.  I have decided to invite Gratitude in as a theme on The Heart Of Awakening for the month of December.  One of the things I have learned recently in my explorations on the Path of Peace is that in order to truly achieve peace, we need to bring it beyond the feeling or mental state into an action state.  I feel the same way about Gratitude and will be sharing various explorations to support developing an active practice of gratitude.

Sometimes this simply begins with being inspired by others words and ideas, so here are 30 Gratitude Quotes for you to explore.  Also, please feel free to share your favorite Gratitude quotes in the comments below.

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”
 – William James

He is a wise an who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” – Epictetus

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

               “True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.”  – Oprah Winfrey

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” – Meister Eckhart  

“Forget yesterday – it has already forgotten you. Don’t sweat tomorrow – you haven’t even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift – today.”   -Steve Maraboli  

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” – Maya Angelou

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” – Cicero  

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you.”
– William Arthur Ward

“Be happy with who you are and what you do, and you can do anything you want.”
– Steve Maraboli

“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.”
– Anthony Robbins

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“An attitude of gratitude brings great things.” – Yogi Bhajan

“Love of God is pure when joy and suffering inspire an equal degree of gratitude.” – Simone Weil

If we want to keep the blessings of life coming to us, we must learn to be grateful for whatever is given.”
– Harold Klemp

“Gratitude and love are always multiplied when you give freely. It is an infinite source of contentment and prosperous energy.” – Jim Fargiano

Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri Frederic Amiel

“The more grateful we are, the more we practice this in our everyday lives, the more connected we become to the universe around us.” – Stephen Richards

“Be grateful for whatever it is that opens you up.” – Allan G. Hunter

“It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full. Be thankful that you have a glass and grateful that there’s something in it.” – Unknown

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
 – Oprah Winfrey

“To express gratitude is to put into words a beautiful sense of wholeness. Recognizing the people, the experiences, and the extraordinary gifts of life which feed our souls.” – Anna

“Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.”
– Kahlil Gibran

“Gratitude is a form of worship in its own right, as it implies the acceptance of a power greater than yourself.” – Stephen Richards

Day 31 ~ May Is For Metta 2013: A Path To Oneness

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“Reaching a state of compassion is the ultimate gift we give ourselves as human beings.  It is knowing and feeling that all power is within us and that none is vested outside of us – neither in material things nor in the circumstance of our lives.  Compassion comes from loving ourselves so completely that we see and feel others only through that love.  In a state of compassion, Oneness is our reality.” ~ Arnold Patent

Wow!  We did it.  How does it feel to have devoted 31 Days of your life to cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves, others and the world?  The word “Devotee” comes to mind here, which according to the Oxford Dictionary connotes:

  • a person who is very interested in and enthusiastic about someone or something: a devotee of Lewis Carroll
  • a strong believer in a particular religion or god: devotees of Krishna

We sometimes hear the term used when someone follows a particular guru, teacher or religion, but what if we choose to follow loving-kindness and compassion as our guide?  I have often heard the Dalai Lama quoted as saying, “My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness.”   This is not to say that we cannot have our structured religions or beliefs, but the heart of our human experience is about the essence of who we are and not the structure.  As Arnold Patent touches on above, it’s not about the material, the circumstances or even the way we live our lives, it’s about knowing and feeling what lies within and connecting with the Oneness that is our true nature.  And, it is by practicing that we can develop the “muscles” to experience Oneness.

I was excited to come across an article during our practice time which shares about research at the University Of Wisconsin on loving-kindness practice and how it transforms us.  This research has been going on for some time and what has been found is that as we practice loving-kindness, we are actually retraining our brain.  I love it when science comes on board and show us what spirituality has known for so long.  More recent research has focused on assessing loving-kindness practice by evaluating a shift to more altruistic tendencies as an indicator.  Researcher Helen Weng says this,

“Our fundamental question was, ‘Can compassion be trained and learned in adults?  Can we become more caring if we practice that mindset?  Our evidence points to yes… It’s kind of like weight training.  Using this systematic approach, we found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.”

One of the aspects that was noted was that the practice actually helps people to regulate their emotions in a new way.  In the research, this was reflected by certain changes in the brain and in the ability to respond in a more compassionate way.  Part of this has to do with what we have learned from our practice alone, that as we deepen our ability to experience loving-kindness and compassion, we become more able to hold the space for other’s suffering as well as for the uncomfortable feelings that arise within ourselves.  This is often where might have had the tendency to turn away or close our hearts.  Thanks to Metta, we have the ability to open and to transform in each moment.  How beautiful!

If you’d like to learn more about research loving-kindness and other explorations in meditation, visit UW’s Center For Investigating Healthy Minds.

Daily Practice:  Do you foundational practices.  As you begin your practice today, take a few moments to reflect on any changes you may have experienced since you began May is for Metta.  How has your ability to connect with and generate the qualities of loving-kindness and compassion evolved?  Spend some time in your circle of loving beings or imagining a time you were held in unconditional love.  Really allow yourself to feel those energies enveloping you.  When you feel ready, repeat the phrases for yourself:

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

As we conclude our practice, choose someone from each of the individual categories whom you have already practiced for during May is for Metta and offer Metta again for this being:  Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, and Difficult Person.  Acknowledge that in practicing for this being, you have benefitted by becoming more open-hearted and loving.  As you begin each category, 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 remembering to come back to your own heart center for a few moments between each category:

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

If 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.   When you are ready move on to the category of All Beings. To conclude our practice, let’s take a few moments to practice for our virtual sangha; our community of May is for Metta practitioners is spread out all over the world.  For the last 31 days, we have been coming together with our hearts and the intention of creating more loving-kindness and compassion in ourselves, others and the world.  Offer the phrases for our community, including yourself:

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

When you feel complete, move on to the broader category of All Beings.  As we extend out our practice today, let us remember that it is this state of compassion that opens us to the experience of Oneness.  Let us dedicate our practice for the benefit of all beings without exception:

  • May All Beings be happy.
  • May All Beings be peaceful.
  • May All Beings be free of suffering.
  • May All Beings 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.  Let every atom and cell of your being be filled with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.  Feel these qualities filling you and surrounding you.  Know that you have created a strong foundation of loving-kindness and compassion within yourself and you can now carry that wherever you go.  You are a beacon of loving-kindness and compassion. Today is a day to celebrate your journey with May Is For Metta.  Take some time to reflect on your practice and to explore how you would like to continue. Journal Notes: How does it feel to be a beacon of loving-kindness and compassion?  What have you noticed about yourself and your practice since you began?  How will you work with Metta going forward?   What other practices would you like to explore?   Have you taken time to honor yourself for your efforts?

It has been a joy to explore and journey with you all again in this way during May Is For Metta 2013.  I hope you will continue to explore as your heart guides you to.  I will be indexing this year’s practices on the May Is For Metta page of the blog in the next week or so for continued practice, and 2012’s post are already indexed there.  There is some repetition of the posts and some variation, but feel free to come back to the practice as you feel to.  Some folks have found it helpful to do the 31 Days again or to just drop into a specific topic as they feel to.  Also, I am considering adding some other guided practices in this way, so stay tuned.  If you want to stay up to date with what’s happening, you can stay connected by signing up to follow the blog, receive my E-news or by joining us on Facebook (see sidebar).  Also, if you have any comments, reflections or suggestions that you would like to share, please feel free to comment or drop me a note.

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

Love & Light, Beth