Tag Archives: Peace

Day 29 ~ May Is For Metta 2016: Reflecting On Your Practice

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“Love creates a communion with life. Love expands us, connects us, sweetens us, ennobles us.  Love springs up in tender concern, it blossoms into caring action. It makes beauty out of all we touch. In any moment we can step beyond our small self and embrace each other as beloved parts of a whole.” 

― Jack KornfieldThe Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace

As we move into the last few days of our practice, I invite you to reflect on the practice itself and what you have experienced in your life as a result of taking this time to focus on lovingkindness and compassion.  You may have practiced daily or just here and there.  You may worked with daily meditation or you may simply have reflected on the quotes or daily reflections. You may have journaled to explore more or not.  It’s been your journey; May Is For Metta simply has offered a space to explore!

Regardless of how you have practiced, if you are reading this post, you have committed yourself in some way to deepening your experience of lovingkindness and compassion in yourself, your relationships and our world. That’s something to celebrate!  And, by taking some time to reflect, there is an opportunity to see how this exploration has impacted your life, areas where perhaps you might like to give extra attention going forward and how you might like to continue practicing Metta or lovingkindness.

I’ve added some journaling questions after today’s practice to support reflecting on your practice. 

 

Daily Practice:

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

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

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 exploration of May Is For Metta 2016:

  • How has it felt to give time and attention to cultivating lovingkindness and compassion in your life, your relationships and our world?
  • What have you noticed?
  • Do you feel any changes in your sense of happiness? peace? feelings of connection?
  • How about your body? mind? emotions? spirit? Do you feel a deeper sense of wholeness?
  • Did you notice any changes in your relationships or the way you approach them? 
  • What about your response to life and to other people?
  • Have you found having a daily practice beneficial?
  • Did you notice areas of resistance or difficult feelings arising in anyway? Be sure to journal about this so you can continue to work with this in other ways!
  • What is your #1 takeaway from this exploration?

Wishing you a beautiful and peaceful day!

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

Beth

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Day 23 ~ May Is For Metta 2016: 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.

Three years ago 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“.  And, 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!

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

Beth

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 17 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: A Path To Oneness

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“I am larger and better than I thought,

I did not think I had so much goodness.”

– Walt Whitman

Today, we will continue our practice of Metta by working with all of the categories we have worked with so far or by choosing a few we feel to work with today.  It’s your practice, so it’s up to you.  As we proceed over the rest of our month-long practice of Metta we will explore working in various ways including the full practice.  Some days you may feel to do the full practice; others you may feel to do just a few of the categories.  There may be some days when you feel to return your practice solely to yourself to deepen your experience of loving-kindness and compassion.  We will continue to explore together and I encourage you to explore on your own as well.

The practice of Metta is about opening one’s heart and inviting loving-kindness and compassion to become a guiding force in life.  We cannot control what happens in the world, in our day-to-day experiences or in our relationships.  The only thing that we can do is create change in ourselves and in our attitude toward life.  Instead of responding from a place of reaction, we can arrive with tenderness and an open heart.  When we have uncomfortable feelings arise, we can embrace them with loving-kindness and compassion or we can just be with them.  Either way, we can do so in a way that is gentle and loving to ourselves.

Many of us have been taught to put up walls, sometimes fortresses, around ourselves as a mechanism for survival and protection.  Creating this type of container may have afforded us some basic protection when we had no other tools but it also limited our ability to experience love on a deeper level.  In practicing Metta, we begin by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves.  As we do this, we begin to melt away some of those walls.  Then, we extend the energy of loving-kindness out to others and the world.  We recognize that all beings wish to be happy as we wish to be happy. We begin to not only sense, but also experience that we are all the same, that we are one.

As you practice today, I encourage you to allow yourself to feel that sense of connection and oneness.  Also, as you go about your day, if you encounter a person or situation which triggers you to put up walls or to feel you are separate or different, explore practicing Metta in that moment – first, for yourself and then, for the others involved. Remind yourself that just as you wish to be happy, all other beings wish to be happy.

Daily Practice:

Do your foundational practices.  Once again, find a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or just enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness. Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I have mental happiness.
  • May I have physical happiness.
  • 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 we have worked with or the ones you have chosen for today using the phrases that feel best to you.  Here is a list of the categories we have worked with:

  • Self
  • Benefactor/Mentor
  • Beloved – Family Member or Good Friend
  • Neutral Being
  • Difficult Person

As you begin each category, acknowledge that just as you wish to be happy and peaceful, so does this being whom you are practicing for as do all beings.  Then, generate the feelings of loving-kindness for the person or being in that category.  Offer the phrases you have been working with:

  • May you have mental happiness.
  • May you have physical happiness.
  • 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 the category where you left off.  When you feel complete with a category, come back to your own heart center for a moment and reconnect with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.  When you are ready, call on the image of the being or person you will offer Metta for in the next category of your practice.  Each time you complete a category, come back to your heart center for a few moments and then move onto the next category.

As I indicated, you can work with all of the categories above or just choose a few for today.  We will add the category of All Beings tomorrow.  Also, if you don’t feel to do all the categories as part of your sitting practice, you can work with them during the day as you are out and about in the world.  And remember, if you don’t have the time or space for a sitting practice right now, you can always do your whole Metta practice out in the world – Anytime, Anywhere!

When you are ready to complete your practice, return to your circle of loving beings or see 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 absorb loving-kindness and compassion. Take a few moments to dedicate the merit of your practice for the benefit of your self, others and all beings.

Daily Journal Reflection:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  Are you noticing more openness or resistance to certain categories?  Have you found phrases that feel good to you?  How does it feel to do a more expanded practice?  Are you able to make the time and space to practice? Are you exploring Metta in your daily life?  Are you remembering to be gentle and loving with yourself?

May you all have happy and fun-filled day.

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

Day 3 ~ May Is For Metta 2015: Offering Loving-kindness To Ourselves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Practice:

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

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

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

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

Daily Journal Reflections:  

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

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

Namaste. 

Beth

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

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

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

Register Now!

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


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

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

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

Learn more or Register Now!

Metta For Mother Earth ~ Happy Earth Day!

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

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

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

– Paramahansa Yogananda

handheart

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

Metta For Mother Earth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tashi Deleh!

I honor the greatness within you!

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

Mastering Anxiety & Stress: A Holistic Approach 4-Session Teleseminar Program Starts on 3/23

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Mastering Anxiety & Stress

A Holistic Approach

4-Session Teleseminar Program

With Beth Terrence

Mondays, 3/23 – 4/13
7:30 – 8:30 PM ET

 


“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~ Viktor Frankl


 

• Are you struggling with feelings of anxiety? 

• Is stress affecting your quality of life?

• Do you experience restlessness and an inability to relax?

• Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep because you can’t quiet your mind?

• Do you have chronic worrisome thoughts that are difficult to turn off?

• Do you suffer from muscular tension, headaches, stomach problems or lack of energy due to worry or anxiety? 

Being able to deal with anxiety and stress effectively is an important component in experiencing a joyful and balanced life.  Anxiety and the effects of stress can keep you from being able to focus and be present.  It can cause a variety of physical and psychological symptoms, which can interfere significantly with work, family and enjoying every day life. And, if not addressed, it can be a contributor to physical disease such as heart disease and digestive problems. 

Recent research has shown that there are a variety of alternative and holistic treatment options for relieving anxiety and stress.  Come and explore natural and effective methods for mastering anxiety and stress.

In the 4-Week Series, you will: 

• Learn 5 Steps to Mastering Anxiety & Stress

• Understand and recognize how you experience anxiety and stress

• Learn tools and techniques to support balance and ease of well-being

• Build a personal holistic resource toolbox

• Develop a new self-care plan

• Participate in a supportive virtual group environment 

This 4-Session Series will be both educational and experiential. Through a series of explorations, discussions and practices, participants will be able to explore how they experience anxiety and stress, know their triggers and begin to develop a toolbox to support them in optimal living.  This program will be offered via teleseminar and will have an optional Facebook private group.  Attendance on the live weekly calls is encouraged, however, audio replays will be available for all participants to listen to or download. 

Cost: 

  • Basic Program including 4-Week Series, Private FB Group & Weekly Email Check In ~ $127
  • Extended Program including above plus One 90 Minute Individual Integrative Holistic Healing Session with Beth Terrence In Person, by Phone or Skype ~ $242
What folks say about this program:
 
“I couldn’t believe my life could change so much in just 30 days.  After struggling with anxiety for so long, I thought I would never find the relief I was longing for.  Beth’s program helped me to understand how anxiety was showing up in all areas of my life.  The intensive support helped me to change habits that weren’t working for me and to acquire techniques that help me to manage stress and feel less anxious.  I really feel this program has given me a new beginning!” ~ R.J., Annapolis, MD
 
“I was having trouble sleeping, finding myself frustrated with my children, and unable to focus at work.  Stress was ruling my life.  A friend recommended I try Beth’s program and at first I was skeptical but through this 30 day process, I found a new lease on life.  I am sleeping better, enjoying life and able to get more done with less stress.  Creating a holistic toolbox that is unique for me was a key part of this change as well as building a self-care plan to carry me forward.  The personalized aspect of this program was key for my success in creating change in my life.” ~ M.F., Baltimore, MD
Feel free to contact me if you’d like to learn more or arrange for a complimentary 20-minute consultation to explore what’s possible! Visit www.bethterrence.com to learn more about Integrative Holistic Healing Programs with Beth Terrence.

Day 28 ~ May Is For Metta 2014: 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

May Is For Metta 2014

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 be connect with energy of loving-kindness.  These qualities go hand in hand.

Last year at this time, I participated in a Peace Pole Dedication Ceremony with one of the communities I am a part of, Heal My VoiceHeal 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.”  Although 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.

10298376_10152122370960168_563882781120428117_oI am excited that the project that began with the HMV Peace Pole planting last year is coming to completion this week with the release of a book based on our one year journey into peace.  Harmonic Voices: True Stories Of Women On The Path To Peace features stories by 18 women who joined together to explore the journey from chaos to inner peace, harmony and transformation with the intention of bringing greater peace to ourselves, others and our world.  It will be available this Friday on Amazon.com.

Reflecting on the synergy of these experiences has made me reflect 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!

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

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

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

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

Sample Day 2 Of May Is For Metta Audio Message

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

Register Now

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

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Ten Thousand flowers in spring, the moon 
in autumn,

A cool breeze in summer, snow in winter-

If your mind is not clouded by unnecessary things, 

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

May Is For Metta 2014

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

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

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

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

Daily Practice:

Once again, find a comfortable position.  Do your foundational practices.  Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or just enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Journal Reflection: 

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.   Are you noticing openness or resistance to certain phrases?  Have you found phrases that feel good to you?  How does it feel to do a more expanded practice?  Are you able to make the time and space to practice?  Are you remembering to be gentle and loving with yourself?

May you all have a peaceful and loving day.

Namaste.

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

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

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

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

Sample Day 2 Of May Is For Metta Audio Message

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

Register Now

 

 

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

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

May Is For Metta 2014

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

Today, we will continue our practice with groups of beings and the category of All Beings.  We will also add one or two of the individual categories to the practice before we bring the full practice together tomorrow.  

Daily Practice: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Journal Reflection:

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

May the road rise up to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

And the rain fall soft upon your fields,

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

– An Irish Blessing

 

 

Day 15 ~ May Is For Metta: Loving-kindness For A Difficult Being

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

May Is For Metta 2014

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

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

Daily Practice:

Do your foundational practices.  Get comfortable and settle into your breath.  Spend a few moments centering on your heart.  Imagine yourself sitting in a circle surrounded by loving beings.  By now you should have a clear sense of how to begin your practice.  If you need to, you can always return to Days 1 – 7 to deepen your foundation in loving-kindness practice for yourself.  Then, begin to send Metta to yourself by repeating the phrases.

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

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

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

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

Practice as long as you feel to or have committed to for today.  When you feel complete, return to your heart center.  Spend a few moments reflecting on your practice.  Notice how it felt to connect with and offer loving-kindness to a Difficult person.  Spend a few moments dedicating the merit of your practice for your own benefit and for that of all sentient beings.  Do this in a way that feels appropriate for you.

Daily Journal Reflection:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  How was your experience practicing Metta for a Difficult person?  Was it harder than the other categories?  Did you have difficulty choosing or holding a Difficult person in your awareness?  Are you using the Switchback when you need to?  Are you continuing to be gentle and loving with yourself in your practice?  And, in your daily life?  If so, how does that feel?  If not, what is getting in the way?

May you have a beautiful and peaceful day.

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

May Is For Metta 2014

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

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

Daily Practice: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Journal Reflections:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  How did it feel to practice Metta for a Beloved?   Was it different from practicing for a Benefactor/Mentor?  How is your practice going?  Are you able to continue making some time everyday to sit or practice in some way?  If not, what is stopping you?  What is your commitment to yourself right now in terms of making time to bring more loving-kindness into your life?

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

May you experience a blessed and joyful day.

Namaste.

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

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

Sample Day 2 Of May Is For Metta Audio Message

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

Register Now

 

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

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

May Is For Metta 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Practice:

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

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

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

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

Daily Journal Reflections:  

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

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

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

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

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

Register Now!

 

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

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

Listen Now!

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

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

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

To participate:

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

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

Looking forward to our journey together this year!

Namaste.

Beth 

Poem Of The Week: Standing Tall By Jamie McKenzie

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Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

I felt strongly to share something by or about Martin Luther King, Jr. today in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the March On Washington For Jobs & Freedom and his famous, “I have a Dream” speech.  I came across a poem this morning and am thankful to have connected with the author,  Jamie McKenzie, who has so graciously allowed me to share it here.  Jamie is a poet and director of From Now On, an educational technology journal that supports engaged learning and literacy.

Here are a few words from Jamie about the poem:

“Of all the many poems I have written, Standing Tall has been read by the most people, as many groups have asked to share it with their members on MLK Day. This gives me great satisfaction, knowing I could help celebrate his contribution to racial and social justice.  Back in 1983 when I wrote this poem I was Assistant Superintendent in Princeton,
NJ, and many states were just starting to celebrate his birthday. I wrote this for the children in Princeton and it was published in the local newspaper.  Dr. King was a great hero for me, growing up and being a young man in the sixties. I remember the horror I felt when he was killed. I can think of no other American who has done more to advance the cause of justice.  When you look back at the terrible system he helped to end, the use of dogs, guns and fire hoses to keep segregation alive, his contribution to American life is just huge.”

Standing Tall

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Some kings rule their kingdoms sitting down
Surrounded by luxury, soft cushions and fans
But this King stood strong
stood proud
stood tall

When the driver told Rosa
“Move to the back of the bus!”
When the waiter told students
“We don’t serve your kind!”
When the Mayor told voters
“Your vote don’t count!”
And when the sheriff told marchers
“Get off our streets!”
using fire hoses, police dogs and cattle prods
to move them along
This King stood strong
stood proud
stood tall
Speaking of peace
of love
and children
hand in hand
free at last
free at last

When some yelled for violence
For angry revenge
An eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
He stood his ground
Preaching peace

And when some spit out hate
He stood there smiling
Spreading love
Until it rolled like the sea across the land
Sweeping away Jim Crow
Breaking down the walls
Ringing the bell
Joyfully
For Freedom

Until
Standing on the mountain top
They shot him
Coldly
Hoping to see him fall
Hoping to put him away
To bring him low

But this King
even in death
even today
stands strong
stands proud
stands tall
And we remember

© Jamie McKenzie, all rights reserved.

So wherever we may be today, let’s take some time to honor and remember Martin Luther King, Jr. and the legacy he has left us that inspires us toward freedom, peace and goodwill for all beings.

To read more of Jamie McKenzie’s poetry, visit http://fno.org/poetry/index.html.

Voices Of Peace: Peace Pilgrim

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Peace Pilgrim

“We who work for peace must not falter.  We must continue to pray for peace and to act for peace in whatever way we can, we must continue to speak for peace and to live the way of peace; to inspire others, we must continue to think of peace and to know that peace is possible.” ~ Peace Pilgrim

I remember the first time I heard about Peace Pilgrim.  I was at meditation gathering in NYC and the leader read a bit from the book Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words.  I had heard about many saints, mystics and sages who carried the message of peace, but most of them lived in other parts of the world or in other times.  As I learned more about the life of Peace Pilgrim, it was hard to image a woman who had so much strength, courage and faith to make the journey of “25,000 miles on foot for peace” right here in the United States.  And, as it turned out not only did she achieve that goal, but she surpassed it, becoming a guiding light for peace in our world whose message continues to inspire people today.

Peace Pilgrim was born Mildred Lisette Norman in Egg Harbor City, NJ on July 18, 1908.  She was the first woman to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one season in 1952 and this led into her journey of walking for peace.  She began her walk for peace in Pasadena, California on January 1st, 1953, intending to cross the country for peace one time and when she died in 1981, she had walked across America seven times, possibly even more.  She had stopped counting when she achieved her goal of 25,000 miles for peace in 1964.

As Mildred set off from the Rose Bowl Parade in 1953, she left behind her name and all of her belongings, taking on the title of Peace Pilgrim.  It was there that she began her journey of walking for peace with just a blue tunic labeled “Peace Pilgrim” on the front and “25,000 miles for peace” on the back.  She carried a few belongings in her pockets but had no money and no organizational support.  She was a woman on her own choosing to walk for peace.  As she began her pilgrimage, she vowed to “remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food.”

Peace Pilgrim’s journey spanned close to three decades; she continued to walk until her passing in 1981.  She walked for peace through the period of the Korean and Vietnam Wars and beyond.  During that time, Peace Pilgrim was a frequent speaker at churches, universities, and on radio and television.  She was a true messenger of peace!

Today, the Friends Of Peace Pilgrim continue to carry her message and share her legacy of peace with the world.  Reading her book, Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words, is like being on a pilgrimage with her.  And, her final talk given on the day before her death has become a spiritual guidebook for cultivating peace, Steps Toward Inner Peace.

Here are some of the words of Peace Pilgrim offered:

“You have much more power when you are working for the right thing than when you are working against the wrong thing.  And, of course, if the right thing is established wrong things will fade away of their own accord.  Grass-roots peace work is vitally important.  All who work for peace belong to a special peace fellowship — whether we work together or apart.”

“In order for the world to become peaceful, people must become more peaceful.  Among mature people war would not be a problem — it would be impossible.  In their immaturity people want, at the same time, peace and the things which make war.  However, people can mature just as children grow up.  Yes, our institutions and our leaders reflect our immaturity, but as we mature we will elect better leaders and set up better institutions.  It always comes back to the thing so many of us wish to avoid: working to improve ourselves.”

“The world may look at you and believe that you are facing great problems, but always there are the inner resources to easily overcome the problems. Nothing seems difficult. There is a calmness and a serenity and unhurriedness—no more striving or straining about anything. That’s a very important thing I’ve learned.  If your life is in harmony with your part in the Life Pattern, and if you are obedient to the laws which govern this universe, then life is full and life is good but life is nevermore overcrowded.  If it is overcrowded, then you are doing more than is right for you to do—more than is your job to do in the total scheme of things.”

“We can all spend our lives going about doing good. Every time you meet a person, think of some encouraging thing to say – a kind word, a helpful suggestion, an expression of admiration. Every time you come into a situation, think of some good thing to bring – a thoughtful gift, a considerate attitude, a helping hand.”

“In this world you are given as you give
. 
And you are forgiven as you forgive –
While you go your way

Through each lovely day

You create your future as you live.”

Of all the messages that Peace Pilgrim shared, the message of her life and her commitment to peace is the one that speaks to me the most.  She showed us in her words and her actions that peace is a choice that we can all make and as she shared so beautifully,

“One little person giving all her time to peace, can make news.  Many people giving some of their time, can make history.” 

What can you do today to choose peace?  How can you create more peace in your own life? In your relationships? In the world?

In the spirit of Peace Pilgrim, I have begun walking daily with the intention of cultivating peace.  For now it is just in my neighborhood, but imagine if each person would just walk a few steps for peace each day, how that might change our world.  I hope you will join me in taking a step toward peace today.