As I wrote in a previous post, I recently spent several days at a meditation retreat. The retreat/workshop was specifically focused on a type of meditation called “Metta”. Metta is a Pali word translated to mean loving-kindness, good will, benevolence, friendliness. It is also a word used to describe a form of meditation that involves repeating phrases of good will to ourselves, to others, and eventually to all beings in the world. This practice is thought to help us develop feelings of love and kindness towards ourselves, our enemies, and all beings in the world and to infuse such positive thoughts and energy out into the world. It has appealed to me because I always “do better” (said tongue in cheek because the point of meditation is not to worry about “doing” anything) with meditation when I have something to focus my mind on. Also, the phrases suggested for use in Metta meditation are very similar to a little wish I wish whenever I get the chance (on a found penny, eyelash, birthday candles – yes, I know, I have a lot of superstitions). Here is my little wish:
May everyone I know and love live long, healthy, and happy lives.
This may sound altruistic, but really it is because I am afraid I couldn’t withstand my own pain were terrible things to befall people I love.
In Loving-Kindness meditation (as I understand it), you are encouraged to sit quietly, first focusing on your breath. And then you start repeating phrases to yourself. The phrases are to be short and you can tailor them to your own desires or fears. You begin with referring to yourself and eventually start focussing outward. To family, to friends, then to neutral people, and eventually move on to people you have conflict with or strong negative emotions towards and finally to the universe at large. I like this because, as I mentioned, I find repetitive phrases quiets my mind, but I also like the idea of trying to cultivate loving-kindness towards other people with whom I have difficulties. Recently, I have been thinking a lot about how to teach my children about compassion and it seems to me that if we could all have compassion for people we dislike, the world would be more peaceful. Since I am well aware I can only change myself, I continue to try! On a daily basis, I fail. But I figure, if I can spend a few minutes practicing loving-kindness meditation daily, you never know what might happen.
Here was my mantra on loving-kindness for the weekend:
May I (you, all beings, etc.) be happy
May I (you, all beings, etc.) be peaceful
May I (you, all beings, etc.) be healthy
May I (you, all beings, etc.) live with ease of heart
I am sending these wishes out to all of you in cyberspace. May you be happy, peaceful, healthy, and live with ease of heart.