February is the month of romance, candy hearts, chocolate hearts, quivering hearts, yada, yada, yada. That’s all good and well, but let’s put the goo aside for a moment; who among us doesn’t have someone in our life that crawls under our skin??
Perhaps it’s a family member, a crummy neighbor, your kids’ little league coach, the government, or the guy that drives 45mph in the passing lane on the turnpike?
Send them love!! It’s called Metta Meditation.
Wherever you are right now, take deep breath in and allow your whole body to relax a little as you breathe out. Take two more breaths just like that, coming to a place of ease and comfort in your bod. Now, begin to picture yourself at your happiest time, even bringing a smile to your lips. Silently repeat these words;
“May I be mentally happy,
may I be physically happy,
may I be safe,
may I live with ease and well-being.”
Doesn’t that feel good? Say it a couple more times if you like. It’s great fun to send ourselves happiness, safety, comfort and joy.
There are five types of persons/beings towards whom we generate loving-kindness (Metta in the Pali language) in this meditation. We begin with ourselves and work our way towards that jackass that threw a cigarette butt out their car window this morning (or was it the idiot that failed to use their blinker at the intersection?).
So, who’s next? Visualize a mentor or a benefactor in your life – could be living or dead. Someone who has never caused you harm, whom you respect immensely and who brings happiness to your heart. This person is easy to love. When you have this being in your mind, repeat the following phrases;
“May (their name) be mentally happy,
may mentor be physically happy,
may mentor be safe,
may mentor live with ease and well-being.”
Great. Now bring to mind a person you love deeply such as a spouse, or close friend. You may have some bumps in the road from time to time, but you love this person very much. You got it…repeat the Metta phrases with this person.
Next up is someone completely neutral. Someone you know in passing but have no special relationship with or feelings towards. Like the guy that changes your oil, or the teller at the bank. Again, repeat the loving-kindness phrases with this person in mind.
Do you know that there are people in this world who go their entire lives without feeling unconditional love? That blows my mind. What Metta boils down to is just sending out a little love, friendliness, and compassion. We’re simply trying to generate some additional peace in our tiny little world today, a little good karma, that’s all. Repeating the phrases, we’re sending out the wish that these people be free of negative mental chatter, that they be free from physical pain, that they arrive to their destination safely and that they go through their day with no major dramas.
Here’s the challenge. Bring to mind the person in your life who is difficult to love, who really pushes your buttons. This is the person who is currently causing you difficulty, who upon entering the room causes you to roll your eyes with a ‘oh not today, please God!’ as your blood pressure spikes. Got it? Great, here we go!!
“May my button-pusher be mentally happy,
may my button-pusher be physically happy,
may my button-pusher be safe,
may my button-pusher live with ease and well-being.”
That one’s not always so easy. Metta Meditation is such a great practice; as you commit the phrases to memory, you can bring more freedom and fun to it. You don’t always have to use the same people or the exact same words, but you should always work in the same order and keep it simple. Following the EMT rule of thumb – take care of yourself first or you’ll be of no use to those who really need you. Always begin by sending thoughts of happiness, safety, ease and comfort to yourself, then move down the list in the prescribed order. In no more than a few minutes, you’ve cultivated love, kindness and more peace. You must be the change you wish to see in the world… right?
Yesterday morning on my way to school, I was cruising down Highway 51 at a pretty good clip. This pickup pulls out in front of me, ambling along, obviously in no hurry. My first response was, “Dad gummit!” (ok, not my exact words) My second reaction was, “Hmmmm, here’s an opportunity practice what I write…I wish that person mental happiness, I hope he’s feeling good today and is free from aches and pains, I hope pick-up man gets to his destination safely, and I wish him no drama on this day.”
It’s progress, friends.
Oh, and I wasn’t late for class either.
Lisa Bracken teaches yoga at NSU and at The Yoga Barn at The Canebrake (www.TheCanebrake.com). “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” ~ Jack Kornfield