“Compassion is not a magical device that can instantly dispel all suffering. The path of compassion is altruistic but not idealistic. Walking this path we are not asked to lay down our life, find a solution for all of the struggles in this world, or immediately rescue all beings. We are asked to explore how we may transform our own hearts and minds in the moment.
Can we understand the transparency of division and separation? Can we liberate our hearts from ill will, fear, and cruelty? Can we find the steadfastness, patience, generosity, and commitment not to abandon anyone or anything in this world? Can we learn how to listen deeply and discover the heart that trembles in the face of suffering?
The path of compassion is cultivated one step and one moment at a time. Each of those steps lessens the mountain of sorrow in the world.”
Believe it or not, we are going to spend a couple of more days focusing on cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves before we move on. This practice is an opportunity to spend time being present with yourself and deepening in offering love and kindness to yourself in a new way. It is also a foundational part of the Metta practice. We are building a base of loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves so that we may embody these qualities and then extend them out to others and the world.
How often do you take time to be fully present with yourself?
How often do you spend time offering love to yourself?
Does it feel comfortable or uncomfortable to spend this time offering lovingkindness and compassion to yourself?
You may not always be able to take time or find the time to just be by yourself, but in cultivating a practice of meditation and of lovingkindness, you are creating an “inner” retreat. Also, currently, we are in a phase in the world when we are under quarantine still in many places. Although this may be imposed outwardly, it is can offer an opportunity to go within if we so choose. Creating space to connect with oneself deeply is one of the most loving things you can do for yourself. And, it doesn’t have to happen on the meditation cushion, it can also be by inviting some of the aspects of Metta into your day-to-day activities.
For some of us, it is not easy to spend time loving and showering kindness on ourselves; it may actually be difficult or challenging. This is a really good reason to stick with it. It is often easier to focus our energies on others, often neglecting ourselves. We may have a strong inner critic, we may be used to focusing our attention on others, or we may believe it is selfish to love ourselves first. Part of our practice is to notice what thoughts, feelings and beliefs come up as we practice. We notice and then return to our practice by simply generating the feeling of loving-kindness and repeating the phrases.
Many thoughts arise during meditation practice and it is natural to come face to face with our conditioned mind. There are many voices that keep us held in limiting patterns. These are the voices that can actually keep us from sitting down to practice or from taking the time to be still. Often, these begin with not being good enough, worthy enough or deserving of love.
In this practice and really in all meditation practice, we are beginning notice and turn the tables on these limiting beliefs. Metta allows us to see where we are stuck and where it is that we are withholding love from ourselves. I encourage you, even when you are struggling with disruptive thoughts, coming face to face with limiting beliefs, or struggling with difficult feeling, to stay present with the practice and with yourself.
Begin with the foundational practices, which includes cultivating the energy of lovingkindness and compassion through envisioning a single moment or being whom inspires that in your; or by entering into your circle of loving beings. If you have not become clear on how you wish to begin your daily practice, take some time today to do so by reviewing the Day 1 and Day 2 practices if necessary. It is good to choose one method of initiating the practice to work with for some time as you are building your foundation. Then, as you move forward it may be easier to shift from one to the other as you feel guided to.
Once you have settled your body and mind, begin cultivating the feeling of loving-kindness. Then, take a few moments to notice your experience. Your sense of lovingkindness may be deepening as you are beginning to work with it more regularly. You may also notice that some days are easier or harder than others. That’s perfectly natural, it’s not a problem! We’re simply noticing.
When you feel immersed in the energy of loving-kindness, begin repeating the phrases for yourself. Continue with the same phrases as yesterday or try some others for today. This is still a time for exploration. Be gentle, be open, and most of all be loving with yourself. Practice for as long as you have committed to or as much as you can for today.
- May I be happy.
- May I be peaceful.
- May I be free from suffering.
- May I have ease of well-being.
Also, as you go about the day, you may become more aware of some of the voices that keep you stuck. When you notice this during the day, take a few moments to focus on the breath, and the feeling of loving-kindness; then try offering to a round of the phrases for yourself. This begins to shift your conditioned mind as you are bringing these patterns to light and responding to them with lovingkindness and compassion.
Daily Journal Reflection:
Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.
Are you able to connect with the energy of loving-kindness a few times as you go about your day?
- How is your practice going so far?
- Are you able to commit some time everyday?
- If yes, how does it feel? If not, what’s getting in the way?
- Do you need to adjust the time or place to make it workable?
- What beliefs are you aware of that keep you from your practice and from loving yourself more fully?
- How does it feel to stay present with yourself in this way?
I’d love to hear how your explorations are going. You are welcome to share your experiences and reflections in the comments below.
May you have a very beautiful and loving day.
Tashi Deleh! (I honor the greatness within you!)
P.S. If you’d like to connect with others doing the May Is For Metta Practice, JOIN the May Is For Metta Facebook group.
Also, to sign up for daily email reminders during the month of May, visit https://bethshekinah.com/mayisformetta.
New to May Is For Metta? Here are some helpful posts to explore…
- May Is For Metta Page
- Introducing To May Is For Metta! Daily Posts Start Tomorrow!
- Exploring Metta Meditation
- Apple Podcast Carving A New Path Interview on May Is For Metta
- Youtube Carving A New Path Interview on May Is For Metta
- Day 1 ~ May Is For Metta 2020: Our Journey of Lovingkindness Begins
- Day 2 ~ May Is For Metta 2020: Circle of Loving Being
- Day 3 ~ May Is For Metta 2020: Offering Lovingkindness to Ourselves