Tag Archives: #MIFM2015

Day 30 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: 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

Our journey together through May is for Metta 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


 

Are you ready for another 30 Day Journey? Have you enjoyed the journaling process of May Is For Metta? Is there a story or part of  your life you’d like to explore and creating healing around? 

I’d like to invite you to consider joining me for a new 30 Day Program I will be co-facilitating starting on June 1st  – Writing To Heal ~ Transforming Our Grief Loss & Change.  The intention of this 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.

This 30-Day Program includes:

  • Three Weekly Teleclasses with exploration and discussion on grief, loss and change
  • HMV’s Sacred Sanctuary Writing Space (12 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

Teleclass Time: Mondays, 7:30-8:45pm Eastern time (4:30-5:45pm Pacific time) on June 8, 15, 22

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

Cost: $75.00 for full 30-Day Program or $175.00 for Program plus Individual Coaching Session With Beth & Andrea.

Learn more or register at http://healmyvoice.org/30-day-writing-program.

 

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Day 29 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Deepening Our Metta Practice

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

 – Pema Chodron

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

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

1. Loving-kindness For Ourselves

2. Loving-kindness For A Difficult Person

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Practice:  

Do your foundational practices.  Find a comfortable position. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Connect with your own heart center and begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

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

Even if you did your practice at home, take a few moments as you as you go about your day to center yourself in the heart and repeat a round of two or phrases for yourself.  Remember to do your foundational practices several times throughout the day, especially when you are experiencing stress or difficult emotions.

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

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

As you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off or move on to the next category.

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

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

To complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.  Really allow that feeling to sink into you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.

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

Daily Journal Reflection:  

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

May you have a day filled with happiness and peace.

Namaste.

Beth


Are you ready for another 30 Day Journey? Have you enjoyed the journaling process of May Is For Metta? Is there a story or part of  your life you’d like to explore and creating healing around? 

I’d like to invite you to consider joining me for a new 30 Day Program I will be co-facilitating starting on June 1st  – Writing To Heal ~ Transforming Our Grief Loss & Change.  The intention of this 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.

This 30-Day Program includes:

  • Three Weekly Teleclasses with exploration and discussion on grief, loss and change
  • HMV’s Sacred Sanctuary Writing Space (12 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

Teleclass Time: Mondays, 7:30-8:45pm Eastern time (4:30-5:45pm Pacific time) on June 8, 15, 22

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

Cost: $75.00 for full 30-Day Program

Learn more or register at http://healmyvoice.org/30-day-writing-program.

Day 28 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Cultivating Peace On Earth

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My life blazed

with the desire

To serve as a thread

Joining Heaven and Earth

                                                                      ~ Haiku by Masahisa Goi

One of the things that may happen when we are cultivating loving-kindness and compassion is that we become more attuned with these energies and may be drawn into connection and community with like-minded others.  As each being becomes more of an embodiment of these positive qualities, they are not just bringing change to themselves but to those around them and the world itself.  Perhaps you have experienced this is in some way as you have been working with May Is For Metta or holding this intention it is a part of your ongoing personal practice.

One of the qualities we often work with in the Metta phrases is PEACE.  May I be peaceful.  May you be peaceful.  May all beings be peaceful.  In Metta, we see peace as an aspect of loving-kindness; when we feel held in love and compassion, most often we are at peace; and when we are at peace we become more able to connect with energy of loving-kindness.  These qualities go hand in hand.

Two years age during May Is For Metta, I participated in a Peace Pole Dedication Ceremony with one of the communities I am a part of, Heal My Voice.  Heal My Voice is an international organization whose mission is to “empower and support women and girls globally to heal, reclaim their voice and step into greater leadership in their lives and in the world.” At the time, I was participating in a book project called Harmonic Voices: True Stories By Women On The Path To Peace, which focused on a year-long journey exploring moving from chaos to calm and cultivating peace in our own lives so that we might extend that energy out into our relationships and the world.   And, athough I was familiar with the concept of Peace Poles, I didn’t know the origin of them until I attended this event. 

The Peace Pole Project was started in Japan by Masahisa Goi, who was greatly affected by the destruction caused by World War II and the atomic bombs which fell on the city of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  His desire to assist in the creation of world peace was answered when in 1955, the Peace Message, “May Peace Prevail On Earth”, came to him in a moment of great inspiration and deep prayer.

After Mr. Goi authored the Universal Peace Message in 1955, a great number of people gathered in support of his vision and activities to spread the Peace Message were promoted throughout Japan.  Soon after, Peace Poles inscribed with the Peace Message began to appear in various locations across Japan initiating the start of The Peace Pole Project.  The year 1986 was designated as the International Year of Peace and since then Peace Poles are one of the most recognized international peace symbols with more than 200,000 Peace Poles standing in almost every country throughout the world.

The synergy of completing a year-long  journey into peace with May Is For Metta that year seemed to culminate with this peace pole dedication.  Reflecting on these experiences has made me feel more deeply the idea that as we cultivate an energy or quality such as loving-kindness or peace, we are actually becoming an embodiment of it.  So for today’s practice, I felt to focus on peace specifically as our exploration.  When we focus on peace and being peaceful, we are allowing ourselves to become a “living” peace pole, one that is moving about and radiating the energy of peace wherever we go.  I hope you’ll join us in this exploration today.

You may wish to work with the full practice, choosing someone for each category or you may just wish to practice Metta on the spot today.  Take some time to feel into what feels best for you.  As always, our foundation comes from cultivating Metta for ourselves, so be sure to spend some time cultivating peace for yourself so that you may then extend that energy out to others and the world.

Daily Practice:

Find a quiet place and a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in your circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Imagine a time when you felt held in that way.  Also, for today, tune into a place or a time when you felt a deep sense of peace.  Really allow yourself to feel that peace.  Breathe it into every atom and cell of your being on the in breath and as you breathe it out feel it surrounding and enveloping you.  You may wish to continue to work with all of your phrases or just work with “May I be peaceful” for today’s exploration; it’s up to you.

When you feel ready, move on to practicing for all of the categories or the ones you have chosen for today: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person and All Beings.  Remember to come back to your heart center for a few moments between each category and reconnect with the feeling of peace you generated for yourself before moving on.  For each category, offer “May you be peaceful“.  If you feel to work with other phrases, please do.

As always, if you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  Use a peaceful time or place as your anchor for today.  When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off.   To complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of peace 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 peace.

In honor of the Peace Pole Project, let us also add this round of phrases, “May Peace Prevail On Earth“.  Knowing that as we do so we are supporting and embodying a vision which,

  • Symbolizes the oneness of humanity and our common wish for a world at peace
  • Reminds us to think, speak and act in the spirit of peace and harmony
  • Stands as a silent visual for peace to prevail on earth

May Peace Prevail On Earth

Finally, take a moment to honor yourself for creating the space to cultivate peace in your own life and in the world.  Can you feel how this is one of the most loving things we can do for ourselves and for our planet?

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 focus on peace today?  Did it feel difficult to work with one quality?   Did you notice areas of your life where it is challenging to feel peaceful?   How did it feel to offer peace to others?  to the world?  What will you do to continue to cultivate peace in your own life, in your relationships and in the world?

Wishing you a most loving and peaceful day.

May Peace Prevail On Earth!

Namaste. 

Beth

Day 27 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: It’s Take Your Metta To Work Day

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It’s Take Your Metta To Work Day!

An Exploration in Bringing Loving-kindness Practice

to the World of Work

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

Our intention for today will be to bring our Metta practice more fully into our daily lives. Today, is Take Your Metta To Work Day.   Although the main focus will be to bring Metta into our work life, it can really be explored anywhere  – at work, at school, or in the community.  Feel free to adapt the practice so it works for you.

The relationship between our personal lives and our work lives has often been one of disconnection or separation.  When we go to work, we put on our work persona.  When we come home, we take it off.  Although things are shifting, the process is still slow.  Even when organizations and individuals desire to be more open, authentic and heart-centered, the transition is difficult as there is really no pattern to follow.

Metta practice offers a way for an individual to stay connected with their heart center and bring more of their authenticity to all of their experiences, including work.  The goal is to allow one’s whole, integrated self to emerge and shine through.  For organizations, Metta mediation offers an opportunity to cultivate a culture of open-heartedness, mindfulness and acceptance.  Recent research has also shown that meditation practice supports greater clarity, clearer focus, improved wellness, reduced stress, increased productivity and enhanced creativity in the workplace.

Basically, bringing Metta meditation practice to work is a win-win situation.  So, whether you are an individual wanting to bring your personal practice more fully into your daily life or an organization wanting create change, bringing Metta practice to work offers a powerful tool for transformation.

For anyone who is joining in at this time, it may be helpful to read the earlier posts on Exploring Metta and Days 1 – 3 to gain an understanding of the foundational practices.  As we Take Our Metta To Work, I encourage you to continue a sitting practice if you have been cultivating one.  However, you can also do the practice at work or on your way to work.  This is an opportunity to bring Metta more fully into daily life and carry our practice to work.  Feel free to “just play” and explore what is best for you today.

It is good to begin the day with Metta practice for yourself but you can also do it as you arrive at work as a way to engage your whole self and move into your work from a heart centered place.  This can be both exciting and scary, so as always remember to be gentle and loving with your self.  The greatest gift of bringing Metta to work is continuing to carry your personal practice of Loving-kindness with you wherever you go and allowing your true self to come through in a space where you may have a tendency to constrict your own essence.

Also, you might like to check out this previous post on 7 Motivations To Take Your Metta To Work: Transforming Our World & Our Work With Loving-kindness Meditation

Daily Practice:

Do your foundational practices.  Find a comfortable position. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Connect with your own heart center and begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

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

Even if you did your practice at home, take a few moments as you arrive at work to center yourself in the heart and repeat a round of two or phrases for yourself.  As you go about your day, do this a few times.  Any time that you experience stress or difficult emotions during your day, explore using your foundational practices – imagine your circle of loving beings surrounding you,  connect with your heart center or repeat some phrases for yourself for a few moments.  You will be amazed to see how a moment or two of Metta can change your day.

Sometimes people like to do this periodically throughout the day, in a proactive way.  One of my clients sets an alarm on his cell phone every hour that reminds him to take a moment to cultivate Metta for himself.  This helps him to stay connected to the heart as well as remain centered and grounded.  He finds that this supports his ability to be more focused, balanced and productive throughout the day.

One of the overall intentions of May is for Metta is to support transformation in our world and organizations are an important part of it.  So, I invite you to include a few moments of today’s practice for your organization.  You can choose the whole organization or if it feels to large, you can work with your department or team.

Remember you can adapt this practice to work, school or community depending on how you spend your day.  The idea is to bring our loving-kindness and compassion to a larger community that we are a part of and that we share a common experience with.  This helps to foster a more compassionate connection within our organizations and communities.  It can also support the alignment of organizational energy and mission.

Check that you are centered in the energy of loving-kindness.  If you need to practice a bit more for yourself, do so.  Then, when you are ready, begin to offer Metta for your whole organization, remembering that an organization is made up of individuals and is also its own energetic entity.  You are offering Metta to everyone and everything that makes up your organization, school, or community.  Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so do all beings within my organization.”  Begin to offer the phrases remembering that you, too, are a part of this organization:

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

As always, if your mind wanders, just notice and return to the phrases.  Sometimes, working with a larger group is difficult or you may have mixed feelings about some of the people you work with or the organization itself.  Just notice.  This is something to explore.  A part of our practice is noticing where we experience openness and spaciousness and where we experience resistance or constriction.  This is a way of getting to know ourselves more deeply and recognizing how we respond to our experiences in the world.

If you continue to struggle or difficult emotions arise, return your practice to your self until your feel more settled.  When you feel ready, once again offer the phrases for your organization.  If working with your whole organization is too much, or difficult to hold your attention on, then you can switch to a smaller group within the organization.

When you feel ready to move on, enter into your heart center once again.  Connect with the loving-kindness within your self.  Envision yourself in your circle of loving beings.  Do this in whatever way feels good to you. Take a few moments to reflect on your practice.

Other opportunities for practice today including offering Metta for someone  you work with who you find difficult or challenging or for a coworker who you consider a friend.  Perhaps there is even someone you notice at work who fits into the category of Neutral Being, but for some reason you feel to offer loving-kindness to them today.  If you can, try to offer Metta for all of the categories as you go about your day.  This does not need to be in any order but just as you remember or notice an opportunity for practice.

At the end of your day, dedicate the merit of today’s daily practice for all beings.   Consider all of the beings you have practiced for today and offer the merit of your practice for their benefit and also, for all organizations to be more heart centered.  Remember that as you offer up the merit of your practice, you are not giving it away or losing it but you are actually generating more merit through the act of giving.

Daily Journal Reflection:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.   How did it feel to explore bringing Metta to work?  How did it feel to do Metta for your organization?  Did you have difficult feelings or emotions arise during your practice?  If so, spend some time writing about them.  Did you take some time to return to your heart center and offer Metta to yourself throughout the day?  If yes, how did it feel to do so?  If not, why?  Were you too busy?  Were you able to explore the various categories while at work?  How does it feel to consider being more loving and compassionate to yourself and others at work?

May you have a peaceful and joyful day.

Namaste.

Beth

Day 26 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Becoming A Beacon Of Loving-kindness

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“Love and peace are qualities we cultivate through the choices we make.  It is up to each of us to make this choice of our own accord and equally our opportunity to share this energy from within.  No one can do it for us.  So if you wish to see how much love and peace is growing on the planet… be that love and peace and you will begin to notice it all around you.  In fact, you will become a part of the very process itself and others will come to know you for this energy in action.

Peace is not a static state as many may think.  In reality it is a very dynamic energy that moves in where strife and chaos attempt to control and tempers these situations so that all can be balanced naturally.  Love is the same way.  When we choose to love unconditionally, we bring the highest potential into every situation and heal generations of conflict… simply by letting go and loving all involved, including ourselves.”

– Harold W. Becker

We are now into the last week of our practice together for this year.  Take some time today to notice any awareness that may have arisen for you during your exploration of May is for Metta.  Also, spend some time considering how you would like to structure your practice going forward.  Will you continue to practice Metta or maybe you’d like to explore another type of practice?  Will you continue a daily meditation practice?  How has it felt to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion for your self, others and the world?

Today, explore carrying the energy of Metta, loving-kindness with you wherever you go.  As the above quote explores, the qualities we are working with in our Metta practice our not static, they are dynamic.  As you practice Metta, you are bringing the vibration of loving-kindness and compassion with you – into every moment, every interaction and every relationship.  This is a conscious choice that you are making to shift your vibration in a way that benefits your own being as well as others and the world.  

Today, really feel yourself radiating the energy of loving-kindness and compassion out to the people and places around you.  Imagine you are a beacon for loving-kindness, a bright light that illuminates life with loving-kindness; and, as you move about this energy is radiated in all directions.  You may use the phrases if you feel to – for a specific person, place or group, or even for the whole world.  Or, you may just wish to extend the energy or quality of loving-kindness and compassion out to others and the world.  This is a quality you now know well.  You know how to cultivate it within yourself through your practice; this is the foundation for extending Metta to others.  Today is an opportunity to carry that with you more fully into your life, relationships and the world.

Continue with your sitting practice for all of the categories or the ones you choose.  If there was a certain category you struggled with, you may wish to spend some time with that category and explore what thoughts and feelings arise as you practice.

Daily Practice: 

Do your foundational practices.  Find a quiet place and a comfortable position.  Set an intention for your practice.  Imagine yourself in a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness; remember a time when you felt held in unconditional love.  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 to move on, come back to your own heart center and the feeling of loving-kindness within.  Move on to practicing for all of the categories or the ones you have chosen for today: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person and All Beings.  As you begin, say, “Just as I wish to be peaceful and happy, so does this being wish to have inner peace and joy.”   Repeat the phrases for each category you are working with:

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

As you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off or move on to the next category.   To complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.  Really allow that feeling to sink into you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.

Take a few moments to reflect on your practice.  Think of all the beings you have practiced for today and over the last month.  Ask that the merit of your practice be for the benefit of all beings knowing that in sharing this merit you, too, are receiving immense benefit.

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.  What have you noticed during your exploration of Metta?  Are you planning to continue with Metta?  What other practices would you like to explore?  Have you taken time to honor yourself for your efforts?  If so, how did that feel?  If not, what is stopping you?  Have you explored journaling as a way to uncover thoughts, patterns and beliefs, which you may be holding that are no longer serving you?  Now may be a good time to explore this.

I honor each of you for your willingness to deepen into loving-kindness and compassion.

May you have a peaceful and happy day.

Namaste.

Beth

Day 24 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Loving-kindness In Every Direction

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To the Great Spirit – 
First in all things, Creator of all Life, 
Who was, and is, and will always be; 
Who, within the immensity of all creation, 
Is uniquely present here and now, in this moment. 

To the East – 
The quiet coming of the new dawn, 
The joyous breaking forth of Spring, 
The place of birth and rebirth and the beginning of life;

To the South – 
The high heat of noonday, 
The flowering warmth of Summer 
The place of fertility and the fullness of life;

To the West – 
The quiet peace of evening, 
The changing colors of Fall, 
The place of harvest and the gathering of life;

To the North – 
The clear darkness of night, 
The deep cold of Winter, 
The place of death and purification 
and the transformation of life;

To the Mother Earth – 
The ever constant Giver of Life, 
From whom all things draw sustenance; 
Who, in the greatness of her family, 
Offers blessing and freedom to each of her children;

To the Six Directions – 
Together making the oneness of God and Creation, 
We offer praise and thanksgiving, 
We ask these things: 
A heart open and made strong with love, 
A mind clear and made wise with understanding, 
A life lived with courage and compassion 
in the fulfillment of Divine Purpose.

– Sioux Prayer

 

Metta practice allows us to do what we can to be loving and happy no matter what is happening in our lives and in the world.  In each moment, we have a choice.  By focusing our attention on the heart and on loving-kindness, we are choosing to be open to ourselves and all that is arising.  It is not about the outside.  It is about our own experiences and the attitude that we cultivate towards those experiences.  Each moment that we choose loving-kindness allows us to be more receptive and to create a place of peace where we might have felt discomfort.  When we do Metta, rather than contracting our energy, we are expanding it.  We are supporting our own journey of awakening to the truth of who we are.  We are moving from a place of separateness to an experience of Oneness.  And, we are bringing that awareness to others and the world.

Take some time today to truly honor yourself for the time and energy you have dedicated to becoming more conscious and awake.   You have offered yourself the blessing of loving-kindness and compassion and there is really no greater gift that you can give to yourself, others and the world.

Today, we will continue with the full practice, working with all of the categories.  I have also included a new way to practice for All Beings that I learned from one of my teachers.  This practice works with sending loving-kindness out to all directions and for me feels similar to the way I honor the directions as part of my shamanic work.  In many indigenous cultures, praying or calling in the directions is a way to begin the day or create sacred space.  The Sioux prayer above is one example of this as is previous post here on HOA, Prayer For A New Day.  Combining our Metta practice with the directions can be a wonderful way to expand the energy of loving-kindness and compassion that we have been cultivating  and supports feeling a greater sense of connection to all creation.

If for any reason doing the full practice feels too much or is an obstacle to your practice, then just choose a few categories to work with.  At this point, how you practice each day is your choice.  You may have awareness of a certain category you need to practice for or you may wish to do the full practice daily for a period of time.  Just explore and let your practice unfold.  Begin your practice by setting an intention in a way that feels right for you.  Recognize that you are practicing, not only for yourself but that this cultivation of loving-kindness is beneficial for all beings and for the world.

Daily Practice:  

Do your foundational practices.  Find a quiet place and a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness, in a time when you felt held in that way.  As you do so, acknowledge that you are practicing, not only for yourself; the cultivation of loving-kindness is beneficial for all beings and for the world.  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.  Use the phrases that feel best to you.

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

As you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off or if you feel to move onto the next category.

There are a number of ways to radiate to all beings.  One of these is to work with the directions.  We radiate to all beings in 10 different directions, repeating the Metta phrases for each.  We can also adapt this to a specific category of all beings such as all creatures or all children.  Working with the directions is a way to connect spatially with all beings and the world.  It offers an opportunity to move beyond ourselves not just in thoughts but in space as well.  This aspect of practice can bring us into deeper connection with the world in which we live.  As you practice today, I encourage you to allow yourself to really feel the world which you are a part of as you explore incorporating the directions into your practice of All Beings.  You can use the phrases below or adapt them to the phrases you have chosen to work with; it’s up to you

1. May all beings in the eastern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

2. May all beings in the western direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

3. May all beings in the northern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

4. May all beings in the southern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

5. May all beings in the northeastern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

6. May all beings in the southwestern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

7. May all beings in the northwestern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

8. May all beings in the southeastern direction be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

9. May all beings below (in the downward direction) be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and have ease of well-being.

10. May all beings above (in the upward direction) be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering and 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 that you have been cultivating.  Breathe in that feeling of connection; embrace your connection with all of the directions and all beings.  Allow that feeling of connection to sink in to you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with a sense of connection infused with loving-kindness and compassion.  Take a few moments to dedicate the merit of your practice.

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 does it feel to have spent so much time focusing on loving-kindness and compassion?   How did it feel to work with the directions?  Did you notice anything about your connection to all beings? to the world?  How are you feeling about your practice overall?  Are you continuing to be gentle and loving with yourself?  If not, are you doing enough Metta for yourself?

I honor each of you for deepening into loving-kindness and compassion.

May you have a peaceful and happy day.

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

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

– Buddha speaking to his son, Rahula

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

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

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

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

Daily Practice: 

Do your foundational practices.  Find a quiet place and a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in your circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Imagine a time when you felt held in that way.  Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself.

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

When you feel ready, move on to practicing for all of the categories or the ones you have chosen for today: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person and All Beings.  Remember to come back to your heart center for a few moments between each category.  Offer the phrases for each being you have chosen to work with today:

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

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

Daily Journal Reflection:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  How are you feeling about your practice?  Can you approach your practice with gentleness and compassion rather than harshness or judgment?  How does it feel to be cultivating a daily practice or exploring expanding in loving-kindness? Are you able to connect with your heart center more easily? If so, how does that feel?  If not, what is getting in your way?  Are you being gentle and loving with yourself in regards to your practice? in your life?

May you have a peaceful and happy day.

Day 22 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Planting Seeds Of Loving-kindness

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 “Hatred cannot coexist with loving-kindness,and

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

– Buddha

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Practice:  

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

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

When you feel ready, move on to practicing for all of the categories or the ones you have chosen for today: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person, and All Beings.  Acknowledge that “just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, so does this being wish to be happy and free from suffering.”  Then, move onto working with the phrases that feel best to you.

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

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

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

At the beginning of our time, I offered that we would dedicate the merit of this practice to the people of Nepal and the the people of Baltimore as well as any other communities we feel to share our Metta with.  I invite you to take some time to do that day and additionally, for the benefit of all beings as in the words of Shantideva:

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

Daily Journal Reflection: 

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  How are you feeling about your Metta practice?  Are you noticing a difference in how you feel or what you are experiencing?  If yes, what is that like?  If no, are you okay knowing you are planting seeds?  Do you think you may continue to practice Metta or daily meditation after the 31 days?  If so, what will that look like?  If not, what is stopping you?   Did you explore practicing on the spot?

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

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

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

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

– Walllace Stevens

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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 14 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: 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

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.  Yesterday, one of our participants shared about offering Metta to the other drivers she passed on the road and noticed more peaceful and less frustrated she felt during her commute.  This practice 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.  And, it is a way we can shift our own experience from negative to positive, from judgement to acceptance and from frustration to inner peace.  

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.

Namaste. 

Beth

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 10 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: 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

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.  And, how fitting that today is the first day we move to the next category of Beloved.  A Beloved could be a family member or close friend.  Beloveds are those we have built close relationship with; those whom we trust and feel positive towards.  Going forward we will explore this category more but for today, our focus will be on offering Metta to the mothers in our lives.  This will include ourselves, a Benefactor/Mentor, and a Beloved.

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. Think of those in your life whom you really feel embody mother energy.  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.

Namaste.

Beth

Day 9 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Dedicating The Merit Of Our Practice

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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

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.

Over the last week we have seen much suffering in our world.  As we began our practice I shared that as we do May Is For Metta 2015, we are holding the intention of offering loving-kindness to the people of Nepal and the people of Baltimore as well as any other communities and individuals whom we may wish to support. Traditionally in Buddhism, merit is offered at the end of one’s practice.  May Is For Metta is adapted from the Buddhist practice of Metta and incorporates heart-centered practices from other traditions as well.  For many years now, I have had the practice of inviting an intention of benefit for myself and all those who are in need of support as I first begin my practice.  Then, at the end of my practice each day I take a few moments to dedicate the merit of my practice to any specific individuals, groups or locations in the world that I am feeling to offer it on this day and ultimately for all beings without exception.  You may wish to use the Shantideva prayer, you may wish to name those people or places you wish to support, or you may wish to simply wish to say something like this Metta prayer at the end of your practice:

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Here is another brief way to offer this; and as we have discussed with choosing the phrases, feel free to find the language that feels best for you:

  • 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.

For today’s practice, we will continue working with the category of Benefactor/Mentor and conclude with dedicating the merit of our practice.  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.

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?

Take a few moment as you finish to dedicate the merit of your practice in a way that feels best for you.  If you already have a way you do this, you can just continue with it.  May Is For Metta is meant to support or enhance your existing practices.  Or, if this is a new concept for you, take some time over the next week or so to explore various ways to dedicate merit until you find one that feels good for  you to continue with.  Also, be sure to check out the “Extra Credit” below for another idea on this…

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

Namaste 

Beth

P.S. If you are enjoying the practice and would like to connect with others doing, come join our May Is For Metta Facebook group.  There’s lots of great sharing going on there!

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.

Day 8 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Loving-kindness For A Benefactor or Mentor

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“How and why we love change the qualities of our love.  Love with loving-kindness transforms love into the nectar of wisdom.  Love with attachment transforms the love into poison, into a state of afflicting emotions.  Therefore, we must recognize the characteristics of the love that is loving-kindness and learn how to generate it in ourselves.”

Tulku Thondup

It is taught that there are four essential ingredients in the practice of Metta. They are as follows: 

  • positive images
  • positive words
  • feelings of loving-kindness
  • trusting in love

Trust involves all of aspects as it includes trusting in the power of the images, words and the feelings of loving-kindness.  Trusting in love allows our loving-kindness meditation to be most effective.  And, as we have discussed this can sometimes go against our grain.  For some of us, trusting in love is not what we learned to do as a child or adult; and yet as we begin to open to trust by loving ourselves, our whole word changes.

Today, we will continue our practice working with the Benefactor/Mentor.  You may continue to practice with the same person you chose yesterday or you may explore working with another.  If you are not sure with whom to work, just call a few possibilities into your mind.  Imagine each being coming into your heart center, notice how you feel and try out the phrases on each one until you feel clear who you wish to work with for today.  Allow your heart to guide you.  This is a good way to learn the language of your heart.

Daily Practice:  

Do your foundational practices.  Begin by getting comfortable and settling in to your breath.  Spend a few moments centering on your heart or imagining yourself sitting in your circle of loving beings.  Really allow your self to feel enveloped in the energies of loving-kindness and compassion.  Remember, creating a strong foundation is an important part of the practice; be careful not to neglect this as you begin to offer Metta to others.  When you feel ready, begin to offer the Metta phrases you have been working with to yourself.

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

Bring an image of the Benefactor/Mentor clearly into your mind and let yourself feel what it feels like to be in the presence of that being.  Really allow yourself to enjoy the feeling of being with that person.  This is someone who warms your heart just by thinking about them.  Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, may you be happy and free from suffering.”  Begin repeating the phrases for your Benefactor or Mentor:

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

If you notice your mind has wandered, bring your attention back to the phrases and the image of your benefactor.  As I touched on yesterday, another option if you are having a lot of distraction or difficult feelings coming up is to switch your practice back to yourself for a few moments; then when you feel more centered, return your attention to the Benefactor/Mentor.  This is a way to become more loving with ourselves.  We listen, we become more attentive and we respond to ourselves when we are having difficulty.   And, we respond to ourselves with loving-kindness and compassion rather than harshness or criticism.  This is an opportunity for a paradigm shift.   

I encourage you to explore this practice of switching back and forth as you need to during your practice – do it as often as you feel to.  You can also explore turning your attention to yourself, your heart center or imagining your circle of loving beings throughout your day when you have trouble staying present in the moment or when you are have difficult feelings arise.  Those difficult moments during your day are the perfect opportunity to bring your Metta practice into your daily life.

Continue to practice for your Benefactor/Mentor for as long as you can or have committed to for your practice.   Then, return your awareness to the image of sitting in your circle of loving beings or being present in your heart center.  Allow that feeling to really sink into you, into every atom and cell of your being.  Let it surround and envelope you.  As you move out into your day, imagine yourself embodying loving-kindness and compassion with each step and each breath.

Daily Journal Reflection:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  How does it feel to practice for a Benefactor/Mentor?  Did you explore switching back to yourself?  How is your practice going?  Are you able to spend some time sitting everyday or have you decided to incorporate your practice in some other way?  What are you learning about yourself?  Are you being gentle and loving with your self as your practice or explore?

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

Namaste.

Beth

 

Day 6 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Expanding Loving-kindness & Compassion In Ourselves

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“The process by which we transform our more instinctual attitude to life, that state of mind which seeks only to satisfy desire and avoid discomforts, is what we mean when we use the word meditation.  It is the technique by which we diminish the force of old thought habits and develop new ones.” 

 – H.H. Dalai Lama

According to the Buddhist viewpoint, compassion arises from a happy mind.  This is why it is so important to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves.  “Maitri” is a concept in Buddhism that is translated as “unconditional friendship toward oneself.”  This can be a hard concept for Westerners to grasp due to the tendency in our culture to be constantly driven and often, self-critical.  What Maitri really means is to be able to relax with yourself, to feel at home in your mind and body and to get in touch with your own essential goodness.   This is where the seeds of happiness arise.  But, they come from letting go of the struggle against the pain in our life – the fear, anger, shame, loss and so on.

We naturally want to turn away or escape from our pain but when we can to sit with it and allow our own tender hearts to just be, as they are, then we can begin to feel compassion for ourselves.  It often takes our own experience of loss and grief to open us to the pain of others.  This is why creating this foundation is such an important part of Metta practice.  Allowing all of the tenderness, vulnerability and softness we feel in our own hearts to arise can open us up to love and compassion in a new way.  So, patience becomes part of that compassion;  we need to be willing to go slowly and allow ourselves to be in our own hearts with whatever may be arising.

This is not only a Buddhist concept; it is part of many spiritual traditions.  As Sufi Master Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan shared,

“It is our suffering, our broken heart, that gives us insight into the suffering of others….The extraordinary thing is that the insight of the heart is the magic that unleashes talents and potentialities within people that have been blocked as a result of their suffering.”

This is a time to be embracing all of ourselves – our pain and sorrow, our joy and light, our limitations and our magnificence.  By being willing to stay present and accept all of who we are, we are able as Pir Vilayat shared to “unleash our talents and potentials.”  Are you willing to embrace all of “you” with love and compassion?

Daily Practice:

Do the foundational practices.  Begin by getting comfortable and settling 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 your self to feel enveloped in this love.  Also, at this point I recommend finding the way that works best for you, some folks really resonate with the circle of loving beings, others do better by connecting directly with the heart.

Part of the foundational practice is finding how you can best generate the feeling of loving-kindness and compassion at the beginning of your practice.  Each person is different and part of being loving with yourself is taking the time to find which practice and way of practice best supports your journey.  After our month of practice, you may find that Metta is not the daily practice for you and you can move on to exploring other practices.  For now, Metta is the vehicle for getting to know yourself better and moving into a more loving way of being with yourself, others and the world.

So, once you have generated a deep sense of loving-kindness.  Begin to send Metta to yourself by using the phrases you have chosen to work with.

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

If you notice your mind has wandered, return to the next phrase or begin again.  Also, you can always reconnect with your heart center or your circle of loving beings if difficult feelings arise. Practice for as long as you have committed to or as much as you can for today.

Daily Journal Reflection:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.   Are you noticing difficult feelings arising as you practice?  Are you feeling more of your vulnerability or tender-heartedness?  Are you able to be patient with yourself and your practice?  Are you practicing?  Are you taking time to journal?  When difficulty feelings, critical voices or limiting beliefs arise, it can be a powerful tool to write them down and a good way to explore where your inner work lies.

Wishing all of you a peaceful and happy day.

Namaste.

Beth