“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
One of the great gifts of Metta is learning to move beyond our personal experience into the understanding that all beings experience suffering just as we do and additionally, all beings wish to be happy and peaceful just as we do. I find 30 days to be a great container for exploring a new practice or creating a change in our lives. As we move toward the end of our container, we have a much stronger foundation than when we first began. We even get a bonus day with May Is for Metta!
With just a week left, this can be a wonderful time to reflect on our practice and see how far we have come. It is also an opportunity to notice where more of our work lies. At this point you know there are many ways to practice Metta and that you can practice in a way that you feel guided to by your own heart.
My suggestion for today is to deepen in two areas:
1. Lovingkindness for Ourselves
2. Lovingkindness for Others in Need
Take some time today to practice for yourself for a bit longer than you may have been doing since we moved on to the other categories. Also, take some time to offer Metta for yourself throughout the day, perhaps as difficult feelings arise or just when you think of it. Metta can be both a proactive and responsive process, so it is beneficial to work with it in both of formal practice and “on the spot” practice.
If there is a particular issue or struggle you are dealing with or that you may have noticed as you moved through the month, such as difficult feelings, outmoded beliefs or unhealthy patterns, bring this into your practice by offering lovingkindness to yourself with a more specific focus. You may even wish to envision your feelings or a particular situation in the center of your circle of lovingkindness.
Additionally, take some time today to think of some people in need of lovingkindness and compassion. Perhaps there’s a family member or friend, maybe a neighbor or even someone else you know of who is currently struggling with a health issue or the impact of our current COVID-19 crisis is weighing on them mentally or emotionally. Beyond your immediate circle, maybe there is someone you’ve seen in the news or at your local hospital whom you can envision needs support. For All Beings, think of a part of the world where you feel support is needed as a start and then move on to the broader category of all beings
Whether you work with all of the categories or some of the categories, Metta practice offers a way to connect with the heart, embody lovingkindness and compassion and share it with other beings who may be struggling or suffering. There’s a lot of that happening in our world today! I invite you to explore how Metta practice can be a pathway to connection.
Do your foundational practices. Find a comfortable position. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness. Connect with your own heart center and begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:
- May I be happy.
- May I be peaceful.
- May I be free of suffering.
- May I have ease of well-being.
Even if you did your practice at home, take a few moments as you as you go about your day to center yourself in the heart and repeat a round of two or phrases for yourself. Remember to do your foundational practices several times throughout the day, especially when you are experiencing stress or difficult emotions.
When you feel ready to move on to practicing for all of the categories you feel to for today: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person and All Beings, thinking of people who you are aware are struggling in some way today. As you begin, say, “Just as I wish to be peaceful and happy, so does this being wish to have inner peace and joy.” Repeat the phrases for each category you are working with:
- May you be happy.
- May you be peaceful.
- May you be free from suffering.
- May you have ease of well-being.
As you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns. When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off or move on to the next category.
To complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion. Really allow that feeling to sink into you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.
Take a few moments to reflect on your practice. Notice how it feels to offer lovingkindness to others in need of support. Take a few moments to dedicate the merit of your practice be for the benefit of all beings knowing that in sharing this merit you, too, are receiving support.
Daily Journal Reflection:
Take some time to reflect on your practice of Metta for yourself and for a Difficult Person.
- Have you noticed any changes since you began?
- How did it feel to take some more time to offer Metta to yourself?
- Which categories did you work with? How did it feel to offer lovingkindness to those who are struggling.
- Are you remembering to be gentle and loving with yourself as you practice?
- May you have a day filled with happiness and peace.
Have a loving and heart-centered day!
Tashi Deleh! (I honor the greatness within you!)