Tag Archives: Heart

Day 28 ~ May For Metta 2016: Metta As Medicine For Heart & Soul

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“ONE GREAT QUESTION underlies our experience, whether we think about it consciously or not:  What is the purpose of life?  I have considered this question and would like to share my thoughts in the hope that they may be of direct, practical benefit to those who read them.
 
I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy.  From the moment of birth, every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering.  Neither social conditioning nor education nor ideology affect this.  From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment.  I don’t know whether the universe, with its countless galaxies, stars and planets, has a deeper meaning or not, but at the very least, it is clear that we humans who live on this earth face the task of making a happy life for ourselves.  Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness…

From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.”

– H.H. Dalai Lama on Compassion and The Individual

We are getting near to the end of our daily journey together through May is for Metta 2016.  It has been an opportunity to explore ways to create happiness and peace in ourselves, others and the world.  As the Dalai Lama indicated above – at the core of being human is the desire to be happy.  This is a bond we share as human beings, regardless of our outer differences.

Our sense of separation, from ourselves, others and the world, is an obstacle, which most of us face as we try to create happiness in our lives.  By developing and deepening our connection with our own heart and generating a foundation of loving-kindness and compassion, we have begun the process of bringing more happiness to ourselves and to all beings.

In a sense, we can view our practice of Metta, of loving-kindness and compassion, as the “medicine” that brings happiness into being.  What better medicine can there be? In many cultures, the term medicine refers not only to drugs or substances, but to wisdom and the guidance of spirit.  Metta is medicine for the heart and soul;  it’s natural, it’s free and it’s beautiful to experience.  And, as we work with the “medicine” of Metta, it’s energy pours over into others and the world.  As we heal ourselves, we heal our world!

Daily Practice:  

As we move towards the end of May Is For Metta 2013, I hope you will take some time to honor the efforts you have been making to be more loving and compassionate.  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.

When you feel ready move onto the other categories as you feel to for today:  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.

When you feel complete, move on to the broader category of All Beings.  As we extend out our practice today, let us remember the words of the Dalai Lama, that at the core, all beings wish to be happy.  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.  Take a few moments to dedicate the merit of your practice. 

Take some time today to reflect on your practice and to explore how you would like to continue as we prepare to move into our last day of practice together. 

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 embrace the idea that all beings wish to be happy and free from suffering.  
  • What does Metta as medicine mean to you? 
  • 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?

Have a happy, peaceful and loving day!

Namaste.

Beth


Day 14 ~ May Is For Metta 2016: Strengthening Our Foundation

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“Look in the mirror for a moment. The most important person is the one in front of you. The most important thing to do is to care. If this is true, care for yourself first. Love yourself first. Appreciate yourself first. Value your own human life. Then you are not alone. Stop expecting too much from you. Say this is good enough. I am happy to be here. I am kind to myself. I not looking for anything more.”

~ Dr. Piyal Walpola

Today, is a day to strengthen our foundation. It’s time to return our practice to ourselves in a bigger way and to reflect on how practicing lovingkindness and compassion for these past two weeks has impacted us.

We have moved through most of the Metta categories and will move on to the bigger category of All Beings tomorrow. Returning to center and to our foundation of lovingkindness is at the heart of our practice.  I invite you to expand your time offering Metta to yourself today and to do some journaling about what you have noticed.

I’ve reversed the order just for today to suggest that doing some reflection and writing at this time may be beneficial before you move into your practice of strengthening your foundation, but it’s your practice! Work with it as you feel to today and always.

If you do feel strongly called to work with other categories, you can return to one of the previous posts or simple tune in to your heart center allowing it to be your guide for today.

Journaling Practice:

  • What shifts or changes have you felt while practicing Metta so far?
  • Do you feel any resistance to offering Metta to yourself as the foundation of your practice?
  • How strong does your foundation feel?
  • Are you more easily able to connect with the energies of lovingkindness and compassion?
  • How might you deepen this?
  • Are there feelings, patterns or beliefs about yourself that are arising that you can support with Metta today?
  • As you practice, ask you heart what it wants you to know today?

Daily Practice:

Do your 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 or personal connection to unconditional love.  Spend as much time to as you feel to generating the energy of loving-kindness – remember this is the heart of the practice.  By now you will most likely have a way of connecting with and accessing your foundation; if not take some time today to find what works best for you.

When you feel ready begin to work the phrases.  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.  

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be at peace.
  • May I live with ease.
  • May I be free from suffering.

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

Spend as much as time as you can today on strengthening your foundation.   If you can try to come back to it several times during the day and definitely when you find you are having difficult feelings or struggling in some way. 

Extra Credit:

This poem featured is this video has been one of the most controversial that I’ve shared on HOA.  Not because of the poem itself but due to the uncertainty of it’s author.  I had come across it cited as being written by Charlie Chaplin as it is in many places.  Others attribute it to a book by Kim & Alison McMillen.  I read that book and still don’t feel sure, but regardless the words are powerful and I feel speak to the benefits that come when we strengthen our foundation in loving ourselves.  If you like to read the words, the are posted  in As I Began To Love Myself: Reflections On A Self-Love Poem By Charlie Chaplin.

Tashi Deleh! (I honor the greatness within you!)

Beth

Wishing you a most beautiful day!

 

 

7 Day Writing To Heal Challenge! Cultivating Self-Compassion ~ Day 4

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7 Day Writing To Heal Challenge!

Cultivating Self-Compassion

Day 4

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“Learn to trust your
Feelings and, most of all,
allow yourself to
grow;  perpetual expansion
is the way of the
Heart and the Soul.” 

– Maria Lucia

How to do we learn to trust our feelings and allow ourselves to grow?  There are many practices and techniques that can support us in connecting to our feelings and learning to trust them. First, we must be willing to uncover them and writing offers us the space to allow our feelings, to bring them from deep inside of us out into the light. If we are willing to slow down and listen, there is so much we can learn about ourselves. This is a big part of cultivating self-compassion and expanding Heart & Soul.

A major focus here on The Heart Of Awakening is accessing and allowing our heart wisdom to be our guide.  A powerful way to do this is to practice Being Still.  This helps us to drop out of the busyness of our minds and into the quiet space of the heart.  Today, I am going to share a short stillness practice for you to explore as part of the daily prompt.  This is a practice you may wish continue to use to cultivate self-compassion in an ongoing way. After the practice, take some time to free-write about what you noticed during the experience of Being Still.  

Daily Prompt

Being Still.  Connecting with the heart, with the deeper aspects of oneself requires slowing down and going within.  Just as the turtle pulls into it’s shell when it needs to feels safe, we need to go within to begin to create a different relationship with our self.  Taking time each day to slow down and to be still allows us to connect more fully with the heart and to access the parts of ourselves that need love and healing. 

Find a comfortable position either sitting or lying down.  Place one or both of your hands on your heart and focus your breathing in the center of your chest, your heart center.  Allow yourself to feel your heart and be open to being present with what is arising.  No where to go, nothing to do, just being there in the heart. Spend 5 – 10 minutes, more if you like, just being still in this way.   Eventually, you may wish to use this practice 10 to 30 minutes each day, particularly when working actively on connecting with the energy of the heart and on cultivating self-compassion. 

Free-Writing. Writing is a way to connect with the deeper aspects of ourselves and particularly to track what comes up in still time or as we are working to cultivate self-love.  It is a way to begin to work with the beliefs and feelings that keep us from loving ourselves more fully.  Take some time to write about anything you noticed arising during your Being Still time.  Perhaps certainly feelings such as sadness or frustration arose. Perhaps a particular memory surfaced or you felt resistance to allowing time for yourself in this way.  Simply write whatever you may have noticed.  Maybe you noticed certain sensations in your body or a busy mind. What were you feeling? What were you thinking? Were you able to enter into stillness? How did it feel to allow space to connect with your heart? Just write and then write some more!

Whether you continue with this Being Still practice or explore other meditative, contemplative or even restorative practices such as yoga or tai chi, taking time to free-write afterwards about your experience is a wonderful way to practice writing or journaling for healing.  In reflecting in this way, you often gain deep insights into who you are and what your deeper desires or needs are.  Also, you are showing your inner ones that you matter and that you deserve the time and space to heal! 

Until tomorrow…

Love & light,

Beth Shekinah


If you are enjoying this exploration of Writing To Heal, I invite you to join me and my Writing To Heal partner, Andrea Hylen for…

Writing To Heal ~ Transforming Our Grief, Loss & Change

A Heal My Voice 30-Day Writing Program (With Teleseminar Support)

September 21 – October 22, 2015

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.” ~ Rumi

Joining a Heal My Voice program is a bit like embarking on a vision quest.  It is a journey into the core of our being.  In traditional cultures, this is done through time alone in nature; in Heal My Voice our vehicle is writing.  The intention of the Writing To Heal ~ Transforming Our Grief, Loss & Change 30-Day Program is to create a space for exploring writing as a vehicle for transforming and healing.  During this time, you will have an opportunity to:

  • receive daily support for your writing for 30 days
  • explore your own life and uncover a story that wants to emerge
  • connect with a community of authentic women and men on a journey of self-exploration
  • get to know yourself more deeply to reclaim personal power
  • discover your inner gifts
  • alchemize your pain into remembrance, honoring and joy; and
  • explore or reconnect with the Heal My Voice program to see if our upcoming 9-month book program is a right for you!

Screen shot 2012-04-06 at 7.40.51 PMThis 30-Day program with teleseminar support offers an opportunity to get to know yourself on a deeper level through the Heal My Voice process of Listening, Discovering and Exploring.  As you take this time to reflect on grief, loss and change in your life, Heal My Voice facilitators Andrea Hylen and Beth Terrence will support you in uncovering and identifying experiences and stories that wish to be expressed through self-reflection, writing and community sharing.  This program creates a container for you to go within, gain insight into your life experiences and access the gifts that emerge as we shine a light on our tender places.

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ~ Rumi

This 30-Day Program includes:

  • Three Weekly Teleclasses with exploration and discussion on grief, loss and change and transformation
  • HMV’s Sacred Sanctuary Writing Space (Audio recordings of inspiration and silence for writing)
  • 30-Days of prompts to inspire and jumpstart your writing
  • A Secret Facebook Group for sharing and discussion
  • BONUS CALL Audio: Tips on How to Write a Book (or E-book)
  • BONUS Fall Equinox Ceremony on the Phone. Live Call and Recorded. September 21: 12pm Pacific/3pm Eastern/9pm Europe

Three Teleseminars. All Teleseminars are recorded.

Wednesdays, 12pm Pacific/3pm Eastern/9pm Europe (September 30, October 7, October 14)

Location: Accessible by Phone or Online Listening; Audio replay will be available

Cost: $97.00 for full 30-Day Program

Payment automatically Registers Your Email Address.

Facebook Group Opens on September 21.

See you then!

REGISTER NOW!

We will begin the program on Sept 21 by opening the doors to the secret Facebook group and by offering a Fall Equinox ceremony on the Instant Teleseminar Line. Come LIVE or listen to the recording.

Then, there will be 3 LIVE teleseminars with information sharing, meditations and community sharing. The calls will be recorded and available to everyone who is registered for the 30 days of writing.

Teleclass One: Listening: Wed, Sept 30 noon Pacific/3pm Eastern/ 21.00 Central European Time

Teleclass Two: Discovering: Wed, Oct 7 noon Pacific/3pm Eastern/ 21.00 Central European Time

Teleclass Three: Exploring: Wed, Oct 14 noon Pacific/3pm Eastern/ 21.00 Central European Time

7 Day Writing To Heal Challenge! Cultivating Self-Compassion ~ Day 2

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7 Day Writing To Heal Challenge

Cultivating Self-Compassion

Day 2

Today’s exploration will involve a form of writing called a catalog or list poem. By catalog poem, we simply mean a poem that looks like a list.  And, in case you’re already thinking you can’t write poetry, just know all you need to do is create a list of something.  Sometimes writing a list is a way to get out of our heads and into hearts, to slow down enough to hear our inner voices and to gain clarity about what we are feeling and experiencing.  I’m a big fan of list writing as a tool for healing and will share more about this as the week goes on.

Take a few moments to consider all the lists that we make – grocery lists, to do lists, wish lists, waiting lists, top ten lists, etc.  Think about how the order of the items that are on the lists matters in some cases, e.g. waiting lists and top ten lists are usually ordered by importance.  Grocery lists, wish lists and sometimes to do lists may be in order of how they are linked to other items (all the fruits, next all the vegetables, last all the cleaning supplies). And, sometimes, it really doesn’t matter at all!

Daily Prompt

Take a few moments to slow down and take some deeper breaths.  Once you feel centered, begin to make a list of 10 – 15 emotions or feelings that you are aware you experience.  Notice what comes right up and also be willing to move beyond the most obvious feelings (i.e., happiness, sadness, fear, etc.) toward some that are more complex or you might not like to admit you experience (i.e., guilt, frustration, resentment, shame, etc.).  This is a way to begin to cultivate greater self-compassion – by being open and honest with yourself about your feelings, you begin to love and accept yourself in a deeper way.

Out of this feelings list that you’ve just created, choose one emotion that feels strongest to you today.  You may wish to go down the list and circle or mark the one or ones that speak to you the most right now.  You can explore all of them going forward but choose just one for now.  Use this feeling or emotion as a prompt to make a more detailed list or catalog.  For example, “confusion about my life purpose”, “sadness about my friend moving away”, “resentment for how hard life has been for me”…  Use the same one emotion or feeling and write 10 – 15 ways that you experience it now or in the past.  

Here is a great example of a catalog or list poem about a single emotion or feeling.  It’s called “Fear” by Raymond Carver…

Fear
By Raymond Carver

Fear of seeing a police car pull into the drive.
Fear of falling asleep at night.
Fear of not falling asleep.
Fear of the past rising up.
Fear of the present taking flight.
Fear of the telephone that rings in the dead of night.
Fear of electrical storms.
Fear of the cleaning woman who has a spot on her cheek!
Fear of dogs I’ve been told won’t bite.
Fear of anxiety!
Fear of having to identify the body of a dead friend.
Fear of running out of money.
Fear of having too much, though people will not believe this.
Fear of psychological profiles.
Fear of being late and fear of arriving before anyone else.
Fear of my children’s handwriting on envelopes.
Fear they’ll die before I do, and I’ll feel guilty.
Fear of having to live with my mother in her old age, and mine.
Fear of confusion.
Fear this day will end on an unhappy note.
Fear of waking up to find you gone.
Fear of not loving and fear of not loving enough.
Fear that what I love will prove lethal to those I love.
Fear of death.
Fear of living too long.
Fear of death.
I’ve said that.

Additional ideas for working with lists or catalogs: 

  1. Create a feelings inventory listing all of your feelings.  You may wish to do a list of all positive feelings and all challenging ones (I don’t like the word negative around feelings as it tends to create a judgement that we shouldn’t feel that).  I do this every night as one part of my journaling process and it really helps me to get clear on what I am feeling and how I may need to support or care for myself the following day. 
  2. Make a list of all the awareness you have around your life overall or around a specific situation, relationship, etc. 
  3. Create a list of all of your positive actions for the day.  This can be helpful especially when you are having a hard day or not seeing your progress. 
  4. Look over the lists you’ve made and circle or highlight any words or phrases that pop out that you might like to explore more.  Make a list about each of those things…
  5. Create a list of all the lists it would be helpful for your to write, e.g. all your strengths, all your celebrations, all your challenges, all the supportive people in your life, etc. 
  6. Share your ideas for other list or catalog writing that you feel will be helpful as part of your writing to heal practice…

Until tomorrow!

Love & light,

Beth Shekinah

 

 

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

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“In my room, the world is beyond my understanding; 

but when I walk I see that it consists of three or four hills and a cloud.”

– Walllace Stevens

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

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

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

Daily Practice: 

Choose whether you want to do a sitting practice and then explore doing some Metta as you go for a walk.  Or, choose to incorporate your Metta practice with walking meditation.  You can choose to walk in a circle or perhaps find somewhere in nature where you can practice mindful walking.  Do your foundational practices.  Imagine yourself in the center of your circle of loving beings or just enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness. Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself.

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

When you feel ready, move on to practicing for all of the categories or the ones you have chosen for today using the phrases that feel best to you. Try to take at least part of your practice out into the world, whether doing walking meditation, going for a walk or even while at the grocery store.  Explore extending Metta to people you see out in the world remembering that “just as you wish to be happy and peaceful, so does this being wish to have inner peace and joyfulness.”  Repeat the phrases:

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

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

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

May you all have a radiantly joyful day.

Namaste.

Day 16 of May Is For Metta 2015 ~ Loving-kindness For A Difficult Person

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“Hatred can never cease by hatred.

Hatred can only cease by love.

This is an eternal law.”

– Buddha

Today, we will continue our practice of Metta for the category of a Difficult person.  Consider someone who you have a deeper degree of difficulty with but not the most severe of challenges.  Perhaps, there is an ongoing situation, which you cannot change outwardly.  Maybe, yesterday or even today, you had an interaction that is causing you frustration, annoyance, or anger.  Perhaps you are holding a long-term resentment toward someone and your mind is not able to let go.   Metta offers an opportunity to work with what is arising both in the moment and what is an ongoing thread in our life experience.  We can utilize our practice to assist in transforming our attitude from the negative to the positive whenever we choose to.

If you find that you struggle sending loving-kindness to your Difficult person, you may wish to imagine them as vulnerable.  Perhaps as a helpless infant or someone who is on their death-bed.  Allow yourself to feel their fragility rather than their harshness, which is a trigger for you.  Allow yourself to feel this being’s humanness.  Depending on the person or situation, this may be hard to do, but remember that in some way they are suffering, too. There’s actually a very good chance that what makes this person “difficult” is coming from their own unresolved pain and suffering and somehow triggering those vulnerable places within you.  

In many spiritual traditions and healing practices, it is understood that the world is a mirror.  Your outer world is seen as a reflection of your inner world.  So, in a sense, if you did not have something that is connected to this “difficult” person, there would be no reason for you to have a reaction.  Just consider this.  On a very deep level (one that embraces the interconnectedness of all things) know that as you are willing to offer Metta to this difficult person, you are also offering to what we might call the shadow, the part of ourselves that we reject and don’t want to accept or see.  This might no always be the case, but it is something else to explore as you practice.  And, remember is you are struggling in any way, you can always return  your practice back to yourself!

Daily Practice:  

Do your foundational practices.  Get comfortable and settle into your breath.  Spend a few moments centering on your heart.  Imagine yourself sitting in your circle of loving beings.  Allow yourself to absorb the energy of loving-kindness and compassion into your heart and into every atom and cell of your being.  Begin to send Metta to yourself by using the phrases you have been working with:

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

When you feel immersed in loving-kindness, bring an image of the Difficult person you will work with into your awareness.  Begin by saying to yourself, “Just as I wish to be peaceful and free from suffering, may you also be peaceful and free from suffering.”  Then, repeat the phrases while holding the image of the Difficult person in your mind:

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

Accept the feelings that arise for you and let them move through.  You may feel anger, frustration, sadness or grief ~  just let it flow.  If at any point, the feelings become overwhelming, switch back to practicing for your self.  You may wish to ask yourself, “Who is the one suffering from this anger or sadness?”  You are the one who is holding onto this feeling, the other person has most likely moved on.  Begin to let these emotions go to ease your own heart.  When you feel ready, return your practice to the difficult person until you feel complete.

Finish your practice by returning to your heart center or circle of loving beings.  Offer a few rounds of phrases for your self for your willingness to be present and work with difficult feelings and resistance.  When you are complete with your practice, take a few moments to dedicate the merit for the benefit of all who are suffering, yourself and your Difficult person included.  Use the words that feel right to you.

Daily Journal Reflection:

What are you noticing about practicing Metta for a Difficult person?  Was it any different today?  Are you able to let go of difficult feelings that you are holding onto?  If so, how does that feel?  If not, why are you still holding on? How is practicing Metta affecting your daily life?

I thank all of you for participating with me in this journey of Metta.  Our virtual Sangha or community is worldwide; the loving-kindness and compassion we are generating is universal!

May you have a day filled with inner peace and calm.

Namaste.

Day 13 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Loving-kindness For A Neutral Being

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“My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness.”

~ H.H. Dalai Lama

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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.

Beth

Day 12 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Loving-kindness For Self, Benefactor & Beloved

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“The sojourn of the soul is a thrilling divine romance in which the lover, who in the beginning is conscious of nothing but emptiness…gradually attains an increasingly fuller and freer expression of love, and ultimately disappears and merges in the divine Beloved.”

~ Meher Baba

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With each moment that we practice Metta, we are deepening in our ability to experience and express love.  Now that we have experience practicing for three categories – Self, Benefactor and Beloved, we will begin to explore bringing the practice together.  As we continue to practice, we begin to deepen in our ability to connect with essence of loving-kindness and the divinity within all beings.  The words of Meher Baba really speak to this journey so beautifully.  Through our practice of Metta, we are entering into a relationship with our divine essence.

Daily Practice: 

Do your foundational practices.  Continue until you feel the energy of loving-kindness arising in yourself.  Take some time to offer the Metta phrases to yourself.

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

Then, when you feel ready, bring an image of a Benefactor, a mentor, teacher, grandparent, loving animal or place in nature, into your mind.  Begin to offer loving-kindness to this being.  Before you begin the phrases offer, “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 Benefactor:

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

Practice for a few minutes for the Benefactor and then move onto the category of the Beloved.  Invite an image of your Beloved, a close friend or family member into your mind.  Hold them in your heart and offer this, “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, may you be happy and free from suffering.”  Then, begin to repeat the phrases for your Beloved:

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

Remember, if you are struggling with the practice or having difficult feelings arise, you can always return the practice to yourself for a few moments.  Then, when you feel to go back to whichever category you were working with.  Just call that being back into your mind and heart and continue your practice.  Practice as long as you feel to or have committed to for today.  

Dedicate the merit of your practice offering that the benefit is for self, others and that of all beings without exception as we did yesterday:

  • 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.

Another way to do this is to say a prayer at the end of your practice in whatever manner or tradition feels best for you.

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 work with a number of the categories?  What did you notice?  Are you remembering to return to yourself when you need to?  How are you feeling about your practice or exploration of Metta overall?

May your day be filled with sunshine and happiness.

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


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:

Optional Level I: Blog Posts + 4 Weekly Group Teleclass Sessions ~ $38

Optional Level II: Blog Posts + 4 Weekly One-on-One 30 Minute Guided Meditation Sessions by Phone/Skype With Facilitator Beth Terrence ~  $147 

Learn more or Register Now!

 

 

Day 3 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: 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

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 it 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 a foundation for all of your practices.  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 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 or personal connection to unconditional love.  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!

Namaste. 

Beth

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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!

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


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:

Optional Level I: Blog Posts + 4 Weekly Group Teleclass Sessions ~ $38

Optional Level II: Blog Posts + 4 Weekly One-on-One 30 Minute Guided Meditation Sessions by Phone/Skype With Facilitator Beth Terrence ~  $147 

Learn more or Register Now!

Day 2 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Our Circle Of Loving Beings

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“The nature of the sun can be called “Maitri” or “Metta”.  Maitri or Metta also means friendliness or loving-kindness.  Perhaps the reason why loving-kindness is called so is that it generates very warm feeling towards all beings.  

Like warmth comes from the sun, one who has loving-kindness has a warm heart towards others.  Just as the sun shines indiscriminately on any object in the world, “Metta” or “Maitri” pervades all beings without any discrimination.  Just as the sun dispels darkness, loving-kindness destroys the darkness of hatred.”  

– Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

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The foundation of Metta begins with cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves.  It is here, with our own self that we can begin to experience the deep love and compassion that we will later extend out to others and the world.  Yesterday, we started to connect with essence or feeling of loving-kindness and compassion by reflecting on a person or time we felt held in unconditional love.  Today, we will continue to generate the quality of loving-kindness toward ourselves a by creating our own circle of loving beings.  For some this way is easier, for others the first way is preferred.  It’s good to keep in mind that May Is For Metta is a time for exploration – you may try one way, then another and finally find one that you settle into for your practice. 

Developing a deep sense of connection with our own inner self allows us to feel connected to everything and to experience a sense of wholeness.  Offering loving-kindness and compassion to ourselves is the catalyst for offering it others and the world.  So, it is important to take time to generate this feeling.  Once we know the feeling and we can generate the energy of loving-kindness, then we can truly work with it as a vehicle for our practice.

As I mentioned yesterday, we will gradually be building our practice, day by day.  You may feel like we are going too slow but this is an intentional part of the practice.  The mind tends to be very busy and goes fast, but the energy of the heart is much slower and gentler.  Taking time to shift our energy and our awareness into the space of the heart requires slowing down. 

Also, we are just beginning to connect with the feeling of loving-kindness in this new way.  So, in a sense we are beginning to build a new relationship with ourselves.  Anyone who has been in a relationship knows that it takes time to connect and grow in intimacy.  Part of our journey during May Is For Metta is to cultivate a deeper knowing of ourselves that can only arise when we begin to approach ourselves from the space of the heart, with openness, gentleness and loving-kindness.  It is important to include “going slow” as part of our practice!

Daily Practice:

Find a comfortable position either sitting on a chair or on the floor.  Allow your spine to be straight but not tense; shoulders or stomach relaxed with your hands on your knees or your lap.  Eyes can be closed or open with a soft gaze on the floor in front of you.  You may like to explore practicing with eyes open or closed; there is merit to both ways for various practices and it is good to find a way that is resonant for you at this time.

Begin with a few deep breaths.  It is important 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 business of the day, and send all that out with the next few breaths, just letting it all drift away like a cloud passing by in the sky ~ you simply notice it and then it just drifts away.

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 your self and for others.  As we begin, we connect with our own heart.  Sometimes we notice a sense of openness or spaciousness as we enter the heart space.  Sometimes we notice our resistance or a sense of constriction.  Just notice what arises as you connect with your heart center without judgment or the need to change anything in this moment.  Simply love and accept where you are and honor that you are taking time to make this connection with your self.

Now, imagine yourself sitting in the center of a circle of loving beings.  They may be people in your life – loved ones – family members, close friends, animals or universal beings whom you feel embody love such as Mother Theresa, Buddha, Jesus, Quan Yin, etc.  In my practice, I include my Grandma Clara, my childhood dog Babas Au Rhum, my cat Percy, my mentor Bill, my Sufi teacher Ayesha, the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, Hilda Charlton, Buddha and others whose image stirs the feeling of loving-kindness and compassion in me.  Sometimes it can be easier to work with people who are living but this is for you to explore.  Be sure that the feeling that arises from these beings is one of unconditional love.

Also, if there is someone whom you have mixed or uncomfortable feelings about, perhaps a family member or friend, you can work with this later on in our practice, but you may not want to include them in your circle just for now.  This is “your circle of unconditional love and compassion” and only those beings that generate those feelings should be included.  Are you willing to create this for yourself?  This is a powerful tool to work with in your practice and to bring into your daily life.  So take some time to consider who will be in your circle for now; this is something you can change as your practice develops.

Once you have your circle created, just imagine sitting in the center of it.  You are receiving love from all of those loving beings surrounding you.  Allow the love in your heart, mind, body and spirit to expand as you receive the unconditional love of all the beings in your circle.  Deeply breathe this into your heart center, letting it flow into every atom and cell of your being.  As you breathe out, allow love and compassion to fill your circle so that you are infused with it both inwardly and outwardly.  Feel all the love that is in you and all of the loving, supportive energy around you.  Spend as long as you wish to sitting in your circle receiving loving-kindness.  When you feel ready, let the imagery of your circle go for now, knowing you can always call on it when you feel to.

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 practice today?  If so, how did it feel?  If not, what happened?  How does it feel to be cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for your self?  Did you notice any ways you resist loving yourself?

Tomorrow, we will begin to incorporate the Metta phrases into our practice.  Today, really allow yourself to embody the feeling and energy of loving-kindness as you do your practice and perhaps, as you go about your day.  At least once, try to call your circle of loving beings into your active life, perhaps at work, or while running an errand, etc.  Allow yourself to carry loving-kindness and compassion with you wherever you go.

Everyone is invited to share thoughts, experiences and reflections as their practice unfolds.

May you have a beautiful and loving day!

Namaste.

Beth

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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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:

Optional Level I: Blog Posts + 4 Weekly Group Teleclass Sessions ~ $38

Optional Level II: Blog Posts + 4 Weekly One-on-One 30 Minute Guided Meditation Sessions by Phone/Skype With Facilitator Beth Terrence ~  $147 

Learn more or Register Now!

 

Love Yourself, Live Your Life Summer Breakthrough Program

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“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” ~ Lucille Ball

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One of my favorite sayings is “we teach what we need to learn”.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, this is where many of my posts and offerings stem from.  As someone who has been on a spiritual path for quite sometime, I have found there are certain essentials that we work on throughout our lifetime ~ this is part of the being a spiritual being having a human experience. 

Whenever we are creating change or working on healing, we hope that we will get this part and move onto the next piece.  On some level this happens, but more often than not, we find that we cycle back to old patterns, feelings or beliefs and need to work through them in a deeper way.  This doesn’t mean we have failed – actually we are progressing on what we might call the “spiral of healing”.  Cycling back is part of the path to our evolution.

Life is about transformation, growth, self-discovery and finding new possibilities.  The journey of life is a sacred path and it is natural to seek teachers and teachings to help us find our way.  But, as Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj shares so beautifully, “The only true guru (teacher) is the path itself.”  And, this journey is a continuous one.  We might consider it like the labyrinth.  We enter in not knowing the path to center but we find the opening, follow along and eventually we end up in center.  We pause, reflect, set some intention and then begin to move out into the world once again – simply following the open path.

In a sense there is a bit of a puzzle to solve, but rather than just look at the labyrinth and try to sort it out mentally, we take one step and then we take one more.  We surrender to the path that is before us and in trusting each step is where it needs to be that we discover the divine presence is guiding us in each moment.  In life, when we feel we have a setback or have “spiralled down” rather than up, we tend to see this as a failure or as a wrong step.  The truth is the path is full of ups and downs on the spiral life; we are in a constant state of expansion and contraction.

Sometimes we may feel we have lost our path or have gone astray, but even when this is what we are feeling, we are where we need to be.  There is beauty and wisdom to be found in every experience.  And, as the shamanic path teaches so beautifully – it is the darkness and the shadows that we find the light within ourselves.  Still, we can find ourselves in  times of doubt or confusion that leave us feeling stuck or out of alignment with our deeper purpose in life.  What is it that can bring us back, not to a different place, but to willingness, acceptance and understanding? 

I have found the answer to be one of the essential teachings that I devote myself to both personally and professionally ~ the journey of the heart and the cultivation of greater love and compassion for self.  As we explored during May Is For Metta, loving ourselves is seen in the Buddhist tradition and others as the foundation we need to foster love and compassion in our lives, relationships and the world.  I also see it as one of the most potent keys to change and healing.

I have been devoting a lot of my time this summer to writing the final chapters for the May Is For Metta book.  Immersing myself in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion has opened the door for a new program I have been developing to emerge sooner than planned.     I am excited to share information with you on the Love Yourself, Live Your Life Summer Breakthrough Program. This is an introductory series that will be offered through 5 weekly tele-classes, a Facebook group, guided practices and optional individual sessions.

I am happy to share a Free Gift with you; it will give you a glimpse into what the Love Yourself, Live Your Life Program will be like.  This previous teleclass on “Loving Ourselves: A Key To Change & Healing” is a great way to explore loving yourself on a deeper level.

I hope you’ll take some time to explore and join me for this new program designed to support you in embracing and loving all of who you are so that you can live the life of your dreams!

Here are the details of the program for you to explore:

Love Yourself, Live Your Life
Summer Breakthrough Program With Beth Terrence
5 Session Teleclass Series
Discover The Healer Within
 
Do you want to live more from the heart? 
 
Is it a struggle to be gentle and loving with yourself?
 
Are you ready to step into your soul purpose from a space of the heart?
 
Does your inner critic keep you stuck? 
 
Do you want to have a deeper sense of connection with yourself, others and the world? 

 

In this 5 Session Teleclass, you will: 
 
  • Learn to connect with your heart on a deeper level and live more from the heart space.   
  • Cultivate love and compassion for yourself using a variety of transformational tools including meditation, shamanic journey work, affirmations, self-reflection and creative exercises.  
  • Uncover limiting beliefs and obstacles that prevent you from embodying greater love and compassion for your self and others and also, keep you from moving forward in your life.  
  • Learn to access your essential self and embody your soul purpose from the space of the heart
  • Begin to facilitate your own process of transformation and healing and create a foundation to continue that process in your life.
 Dates: Tuesday, July 22nd – August 19th  
 Time: 7:00 – 8:00 EST 
 Where: Wherever You Are – Call in by phone or listen online
 Audio replays will be available after the weekly call

 

 Basic Package $97, includes  
 – 5 weekly teleclass sessions 
 – an mp3 audio of calls 
 – weekly transformational resource handouts
 – private Facebook discussion group, plus 
 – 2 special audio bonuses 
 
 Register by July 14th for Special Pricing on Basic Package ~ $77
 
 Premium Package $247, includes
 –  Basic Package plus  
 –  One 1 1/2 hour Individual Session with Beth Terrence  
 in person in Annapolis, MD or By PHONE/SKYPE (Reg. $150)
 
Register by July 14th for Special Pricing On Premium Package ~ $227
   
Are you ready to embrace the truth of who you are –  
a being full of loving-kindness and compassion?

How much longer do you want to continue struggling?

Do you want the heart to be a guiding force in your life? 
 
The journey begins with you!
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Day 15 ~ May Is For Metta: Loving-kindness For A Difficult Being

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“Metta is also called a paritta — a spiritual formula capable of safeguarding one’s well-being, protecting one against all dangers and rescuing one from mishaps and misfortunes.  When the monks could not stay and meditate in that beautiful forest provided with all facilities because the deities were hostile to them, they had to leave the place.  And when they were armed with the protection of the Metta Sutta, which they recited and meditated upon throughout their journey, by the time they reached the place, the deities were full of friendly feelings and already waiting for them.  Hostility had been turned into hospitality.” –  Acharya Buddharakkhita

May Is For Metta 2014

Today, we will move our practice of Metta to the category of a Difficult being, referred to in traditional Buddhist texts as the “Enemy”.  At the most basic level, the Difficult person is someone we find it difficult to like or feel kindly toward.  This is someone who we may have negative feelings toward or we find that they challenge us in some way.  There are varying degrees of difficulty and this is something we will explore as part of the practice.  This category offers us the opportunity to go to a deeper place within ourselves as we work to evoke and hold loving-kindness for someone who may have hurt us in some way, whom we have resistance towards and whose image stirs negativity in us.

When choosing a Difficult person, you can choose someone you have mildly difficult feelings about or a real “enemy” with whom you have experienced true problems.  It may be someone whom you find unpleasant, frightening, or annoying.  The Difficult person can include someone who is hostile toward you or someone toward whom you have hostility.  In the beginning, it is best to choose someone to work with who you find is only mildly difficult rather than someone who stirs up very strong emotions; this helps to expand your ability to generate loving-kindness.  Later, when you have practiced offering loving-kindness toward a mildly difficult person then you can expand your practice to increasingly difficult people.

Daily Practice:

Do your foundational practices.  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.  By now you should have a clear sense of how to begin your practice.  If you need to, you can always return to Days 1 – 7 to deepen your foundation in loving-kindness practice for yourself.  Then, begin to send Metta to yourself by repeating the phrases.

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

When you feel immersed in the energy of loving-kindness for yourself, bring an image of the Difficult person you will work with into your awareness.  Remind yourself that this person, although difficult, is also struggling to find his or her way in life and in the process, is causing you discomfort.  Begin by saying to yourself, “Just as I wish to be peaceful and free from suffering, may you also find inner peace and calm.”  Then, begin repeating the phrases while holding the image of the difficult person in your mind:

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

It is natural for feelings of resistance, aversion, anger, guilt, and discomfort to arise.  Sometimes the phrases seem weak in comparison to these strong emotions.  If you are struggling with your own emotions, try to name the emotion you are feeling, such as sadness or anger.  Take a few moments to practice compassion for yourself using the phrases and when you begin to feel more settled, then return your practice to the Difficult person.  Use the Switchback as often as you need to maintain an overall feeling of loving-kindness and compassion.  If it feels too much to practice for a difficult person, trying moving to another category that we have worked with and then move back to the difficult person when you feel to.

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 and offer loving-kindness to a Difficult person.  Spend a few moments dedicating the merit of your practice for your own benefit and for that of all sentient beings.  Do this in a way that feels appropriate for you.

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 was your experience practicing Metta for a Difficult person?  Was it harder than the other categories?  Did you have difficulty choosing or holding a Difficult person in your awareness?  Are you using the Switchback when you need to?  Are you continuing to be gentle and loving with yourself in your practice?  And, in your daily life?  If so, how does that feel?  If not, what is getting in the way?

May you have a beautiful and peaceful day.

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If you are interested in a receiving a Daily Audio Message/Guided Meditation led by Facilitator Beth Terrence to accompany our May Is For Metta practice, you can learn more or register at Eventbrite.com.  

Listen To Our May Is For Metta Mother’s Day Audio

 

 

 

 

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.

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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 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.

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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 11 ~ May Is For Metta 2014: Loving-kindness For Mother’s 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

May Is For Metta 2014

It has turned out to be a beautiful addition to our practice that Mother’s Day falls in the midst of our May Is For Metta practice.  We may tend to think of Mother’s Day as a personal holiday between us and our own Mother, however by expanding our focus we can use this day to shift our consciousness to the greater whole, to transform our relationships big and small, and to deepen in our experience of Mother energy not only in our own lives but in the world as well.  In honor of Mother’s Day today, we will celebrate the energy of the Divine Mother and Mother Earth as part of our practice.  

I encourage to explore the practice and to connect with your heart center to ask which mothers you feel to practice for today.  Perhaps it is your real mother or grandmother, perhaps a friend or teacher, or even a child.  And, don’t forget to include Mother Nature; she needs our love, too.  Let you heart be your guide and open to experience the heart of Metta as Buddha defined it.

We have been working to connect with and cultivate the energies of loving-kindness and compassion.   As most of us have experienced, it is a process to open ourselves to these qualities, to become receptive to love for ourselves.   Just as a mother so easily listens to her children, the feminine energy within us has the power to deepen our ability to listen, to be still and to go within.   On the simplest level, we can say that the heart is connected to the feminine energy within us and the mind to the masculine.   Our goal is to achieve wholeness, a marriage or union of these energies.  And yet, historically, especially in our culture, we have been more focused on systems of mind and logic rather than heart and intuition.   Through our practice today, we will honor the feminine energy within us, in others and in the world.

Daily Practice:

Do your foundational practices.  Take some extra time today to focus on deepening your receptivity to loving-kindness and compassion.  Honor the feminine energy with you and open to the wisdom of receptivity and the creation of sacred space within your heart.  This energy helps to open us to receive divine love into the core of our beings.  Offer yourself the time and space to really open your heart today, allowing stillness and love to blossom within you.  Use your whatever method you feel to generate the energy of loving-kindness.  When you feel deeply rooted in loving-kindness and the energy of heart, say a few rounds of 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 complete in practicing for yourself, move onto the Benefactor.  Let us honor Mother Earth as our Benefactor/Mentor for today.  She nurtures and sustains us in each and every moment.  Call an image of Mother Earth into your mind.  Begin to offer loving-kindness to her by enveloping her in the heart qualities you have been cultivating.  Begin by saying to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, may you be happy and free from suffering.”  Offer the phrases for Mother Earth:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you 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.  Again, spend a few moments allowing yourself to open your heart to receive love and deepen your experience of the sacred space within your being.

For the category of Beloveds, choose one or two mothers whom you would like to send loving-kindness and compassion to today.  It can be your own mother or grandmother, someone who is like a mother to you or a just a mother you wish to honor on this day.  You may practice for as many mothers as you feel to.  Call an image to mind of your Beloved.  Begin by saying to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, may you be happy and free from suffering.”  Begin to offer her loving-kindness and repeat the phrases for your beloved:

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

When you feel complete, continue on to another mother if you feel to or return to your heart center.  Practice as long as you feel to or have committed to for today.  Spend a few moments reflecting on your practice.  Notice how it felt to connect with the energy of the Divine Mother and the feminine energies within your self, others and in the world.  And, finally dedicate the merit of your practice in the following way or as you called to:

  • 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.   Did you spend some extra time in your heart today?   How did it feel to practice for Mother Earth?  Did you explore working with more than one Beloved?  How did that feel?  Are you getting more comfortable spending time in your heart center? being still?

Today is a wonderful today to take your practice out into the world.  Spend some time offering Metta to those you see as you go about your day, perhaps the loved one or friends who you visit with today.

Wishing you a happy Divine Mother’s Day.

Day 9 ~ May Is For Metta 2014: Dedicating The Merit Of Our Practice

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May Is For Metta 2014

May the earth be wholesome everywhere
The world blessed with prosperity
May the poor and destitute find wealth
And the stooping animals be freed

May every being ailing with illness
Find relief at once from suffering
May all the sickness that afflict the living
Be instantly and permanently healed

May those who go in dread, have no more fear,
May captives be unchained and set free,
And may the weak now become strong,
May living beings help each other in kindness.

May travelers upon the road,
Find happiness no matter where they go,
And may they gain, without hardship,
The goals on which their hearts are set.

From the songs of birds and the sighing of trees,
From the shafts of light and from the sky itself,
May living beings, each and every one,
Perceive the constant sound of Dharma
Shantideva

Today, we will continue working with the category of Benefactor/Mentor.  Sometimes people have difficulty choosing whom to work with.  I had suggested a practice yesterday to explore by working with the heart, but also it is good to just be open.  The name Benefactor/Mentor connotes a certain type of person but we should not get caught up in the title.  Remember, we say choose a being because in addition to a human being, it can be an animal or something you love in nature, a tree, a river, or the mountains.  The essence of this category is that this being creates warmth in you and puts a smile on your face.

Sometimes, it is easier to practice for the Benefactor/Mentor than for ourselves; we may feel a sense of ease or pleasantness that arises as we practice for this being.  Still, there are days when our practice will be more difficult than others.  We may not feel connected to anyone; we may not be able to decide who to practice for or we may feel resistance to practicing altogether.  This is the time to return the focus of the practice to yourself.  It may even be a day when you need to just practice for yourself.  That’s okay.  As I shared yesterday, learning to respond to yourself with loving-kindness and compassion is at the heart of Metta.  Part of that is allowing yourself to be where you are and embracing yourself with gentleness and acceptance.

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 see yourself in the center of your circle of loving beings.  Begin to send Metta to yourself by repeating 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.

If you feel strongly to continue with the Benefactor/Mentor you were working with, do so.  If not, why not try to practice for an animal or something in nature that really nourishes and supports you, maybe even Mother Earth herself.

When you have chosen who or what being you will work with, invite an image to arise in your mind and let yourself feel what it feels like to be in the presence of that being.   Allow yourself to enjoy the feeling of connecting with your Benefactor/Mentor in whatever way feels good to you.  Remember, this being makes you feel warm inside.  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 Benefactor/Mentor:

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

If you notice your mind has wandered, return to the phrases and the image of your benefactor.   Continue practicing for your Benefactor/Mentor for as long as you feel to or have committed to for your practice.   Let the image of the Benefactor go and come back into your own heart center.  Repeat to yourself just once:

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

It is customary in Buddhism and other traditions to dedicate the merit of our practice for the benefit of all beings.  We ask to accomplish the twofold benefit – that our practice is for our own benefit and that of all sentient beings.  All sentient beings can include humans, animals, plants, and beings in other realms.  Dedicating merit offers our practice for the support of others, asking that the loving-kindness and compassion we have cultivated may be beneficial to all and at the same time, it helps our mind to remain firm in our dedication to transformation.  The opening by Shantideva offers one a way to work with this.  Although there are traditional ways to dedicate merit, you can explore finding the words that work for you.

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 explore working with the Benefactor/Mentor in a different way?  Are you remembering to return your practice to your self when you are having difficulty?  Are you being gentle and loving with yourself as you practice and in your daily life?  How do you feel about dedicating merit at the end of your practice?

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

Extra Credit:

This song written by American monk, Ven. Heng Sure carries the essence of dedicating merit as well as what the overall intention of our Metta practice is centered on.  Hope you’ll take a few moments and listen.  I’ve included the words below as well.

May every living being,
Our minds as one and radiant with light,
Share the fruits of peace
With hearts of goodness, luminous and bright.

If people hear and see,
How hands and hearts can find in giving, unity,
May their minds awake,
To Great Compassion, wisdom and to joy.

May kindness find reward,
May all who sorrow leave their grief and pain;
May this boundless light,
Break the darkness of their endless night.

Because our hearts are one,
This world of pain turns into Paradise,
May all become compassionate and wise,
May all become compassionate and wise.