Shaman & Holistic
Transformation Facilitator

Day 5 ~ May Is For Metta 2020: Strengthening Your Foundational Practice

“During the Buddha’s last months, he always taught, ‘Take refuge in yourselves, not in anything else.  In you are Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.   Don’t look for things that are far away.   Everything is in your own heart.  Be an island unto yourself.’  

Whenever you feel confused, angry or lost, if you practice mindful breathing and return to your island of self, you will be in a safe place filled with warm sunlight, cool shade trees, and beautiful birds and flowers.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

Everything is in your own heart.  Creating that safe and peaceful place is something that needs to happen from the inside out.  We cannot hope to find peace in the world unless we have peace within our own self.  Today is an invitation to strengthen your foundational practice of generating the energy or quality of lovingkindness and it’s one more day to practice offering Metta to your self, just you! 

For those who are having trouble making the time to practice, are struggling with the practice itself or are just joining us, I encourage today to spend some time just being present with the feeling of lovingkindness and compassion.  Connect with your heart center.  Spend time working on cultivating the foundational practice, which is the essence of this practice.  It offers a unique way for you to be supported and nurtured inwardly.

Once you deepen in this foundation, it becomes easier to call upon the energy of lovingkindness and compassion as you move about in the world.  It can become a powerful support that you can call upon in any moment or any situation and in response to the challenges arising in your life and the world around you.  We certainly need practices that support us in this way during our current crisis. 

Connect with the foundational practice as often as you can remember to as you go about your day today, even if just for a few moments.  Part of this journey is learning that although formal practice benefits us in many ways, what we are really working towards is carrying this quality and a more conscious awareness with us wherever we go.  This is called informal practice and is often supports how we can integrate our experience into our daily life.

Going forward, I suggest, if possible, taking some time each day to practice both formal (sitting) practice and informal (on the spot) as this helps to create a foundation and build new ways of being.  Consistency is something that is needed for the heart to open and for lovingkindness to deepen. Are you willing to commit to yourself in this way?  What a gift you are giving yourself each time that you practice Metta whether sitting on a cushion or simply dropping into the space of the heart wherever you are to offer lovingkindness to yourself!

Soon, we will move to offering lovingkindness to others, but creating this strong foundation in lovingkindness and compassion for ourselves is the key to Metta practice.

Daily Practice:

(Note: See below for audio and video resources on Foundational Practice)

Do your foundational practices. Get settled in a comfortable position, spend a few minutes just being present with breath, let any tensions of mind and body melt away with the breath and begin to cultivate that feeling or quality of lovingkindness and compassion.  Allow yourself to get really comfortable in creating and working with how you generate Metta, whether with a single being or moment or with your circle of loving beings.  If you need to continue to explore both ways, do so.  If you feel you have found a way that works best for you, continue with that until your heart signals to you that your have found your way of generating Metta for now.

When you feel immersed in the qualities of lovingkindness and compassion, then, move onto the phrases.  Continue with the same phrases as yesterday or try some others for today.  This is still a time for exploration.  As we move on to the next category, it may benefit you to work with the same phrases for the rest of the practice.  I tend to work with these phrases most of the time:

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

As you practice remember to be gentle and loving with yourself – no matter how your practice goes. If you find your mind wanders or distractions arise simple return to the foundational practice or to the next round of phrases. It is the nature of the mind to be busy and it is the practice of meditation to come back to the present moment. The practice is our anchor to the moment. 

Spend as long as you feel to today practicing working with the foundational practice of generating lovingkindness and compassion; and offering Metta to yourself.  Whenever you feel complete, know the you are stepping into your day filled the energy of lovingkindness and compassion. And, remember to come back to the foundational practice as you go about your day, too!

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 feeling comfortable with your foundational practice? Have you found a way that works for you?
  • Have you found phrases you are comfortable working with? 
  • Do you notice the phrases help to create more of anchor for your mind? 
  • Have you been able to find some way to practice daily or at least explore cultivating more loving-kindness toward yourself? 
  • What can you do today that would be really loving for yourself?

Most of all take some time to really honor yourself for the efforts you are making to be more conscious, loving and compassionate.  In whatever way you are practicing, you are moving into greater self-love and understanding. Congratulations.

Earlier in the post, I mentioned consistency as being something important for cultivating connection to ourselves and our heart.  I’d like to offer a previous post for you to explore – 7 Ways to Cultivate Love and Compassion for Yourself

Have a beautiful and peace-filled day.

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

Beth


Helpful Resources…

 

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