Metta meditation II

Probably, S would not think of herself as a bitch.

Nor do I, really. That one sentence, taking my entirely understandable action and making something mean out of it: it got to me, though I managed not to scream and shout swear words until after the phone call was ended. I admire her, I would like to be friends, and when she is around stuff happens and I can see that it might be interpreted in a colder light than I would like it interpreted. This is not entirely projecting.

It is the situation which makes us unfriends. There is nothing I can do about that, though I could try not to make it worse. When D, whom I also have some reason to dislike, suggested by passing on a chain email that I spend a moment of metta meditation on people I dislike, I felt some irritation.

On Christmas day at 12 miday to take a moment to think of just two people who have been a challenge in your life (currently or in the past) and fill their AURA with the rose magenta of love and mentally wish them well and then let them go.
 
This can be done while the lunch is cooking and will take no time at all really. If you care to join me a number of things will happen 1. If enough people join in there will be an outpouring of love across the whole world. 2.You will be letting go negative stuff you may have been carrying around for years. 3. you will be actively aligning yourself with positive forces that can only be beneficial to you at all levels, mentally, emotionally and of course physically.

It bears repeating. It is a prayer for good.

May I be safe and protected

May I be peaceful and happy

May I be healthy and strong

May I have ease of wellbeing

First of onesself, then a benefactor, then a friend, then someone one dislikes, then of everyone in the World, perhaps All Things, perhaps in stages, in groups. But I find it difficult, I cannot always pray that for myself, and have difficulty moving on to others.  So the suggestion that one just do it for a moment and feel the Love, and increase the Love in the world, seemed facile. I had already meditated Metta for S, because it seemed essential that we get on, for the next week at least.

I suppose I could forget things which happened years ago, even see them from her point of view. I might not have understood anyway. I find it hard to trust her after that, and I am not sure what harm she could do me. Generally, she is simply coldly correct with me, and mocking only occasionally. And it seems essential to my good that I see her in the best light I can, and respond generously.

I have had some lovely moments this Christmas season. I spent some time with H’s granddaughter, placing hundreds of tiny coloured cylinders to make Disney fairies. It’s the Joy of Six!

3 thoughts on “Metta meditation II

  1. The description of the ‘metta meditation’ feels like a corruption – or at least a watering down of the Buddhist metta bhavna meditation practice. Metta bhavna is the cultivation of loving kindness. Importantly it’s a meditation, not a prayer.
    So in the first stage I am cultivating my own feelings of positive regard or love for myself (this is NOT the same as praying for some unseen omnipotent benevolent – or otherwise – being to decide whether or not I am worthy of receiving love and approval). One way to do this is to get in touch with existing positive feelings towards myself (however small), or to use memories (preferably recent) of when I felt happy, loved and/or at peace with the world. When I was first introduced to this idea I found it quite shocking to be given permission to think well of myself, however I gave it a go, soon started to feel the benefits of allowing myself to enjoy & nurture my positive experiences and feelings and like many things, practice gradually made it easier to get in touch with feelings of positive regard towards myself.
    The next stage is to extend this positive feeling to towards a friend. Many people find this the easiest stage and are able to easily find others they can feel love and appreciation for. Sometimes I do; sometimes I find myself in a place of loneliness & isolation & ‘nobody understands me’ or I haven’t really got any friends. However within the context of the meditation practice the point is to notice this, and feel how it feels. To breathe, relax, and then continue to look for feelings of positive regard and appreciation for another, however slight; and then when they are found to rest in them, nurture them, feel gratitude for them. Thus they are allowed to grow.
    The next stage, in the Buddhist tradition, is to cultivate this positive regard towards a ‘neutral’ person i.e. someone toward whom one has no strong feelings, perhaps a stranger on the bus – or the person in the corner shop you buy your milk from. You bring them into you mind and offer the same feelings of love and positive regard as you have for yourself and your close friend. One of the purposes of this stage is to help us to realise everyone is worthy of love and positive regard, no matter what type of person they are or what assumptions or judgements we may have about them.
    The fourth stage is to think of someone you actually dislike, an ‘enemy’, or someone you have negative feelings of anger or dislike towards. It’s best to not get caught up in the story of why you feel this way, but to acknowledge them as a living feeling being with their own problems and concerns and their own desire to be happy & loved, and extend metta to them as well. This, of course, can be challenging, but in the context of Buddhist meditation practice the point is to try. The point is to recognise the benefit of positive intent. Even if all that is felt when one brings the ‘enemy’ person to mind is anger & hatred, just be aware of the feelings & allow some kindness or acceptance to arise. In this context a small feeling of forgiveness or acceptance is the ‘metta’. If the practice is repeated it is likely that feeling forgiveness or acceptance will become easier. When I was taught this practice I was encouraged to start with people I didn’t feel too much angst towards, and instead to develop my understanding of the practice by bringing to mind people with whom I had a minor conflict, this avoiding a sense of failure if the feelings were too strong or immoveable.
    In the fifth stage all four – self, friend, neutral person and enemy are brought together in the mind and the intention is to feel equal positive regard for all, and then gradually extent to all beings.
    I agree to try to do this meditation for just a moment is facile. It is a subtle and complex meditation practice and in order to reap any real benefit needs time for all the stages to be explored and practiced many times. It isn’t just a case of superficial ‘feeling the love’ for all things, but to gradually unravel the complexities of our conditioning, judgments, assumptions and feelings for ourselves and others.

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    • Thank you for that detailed and helpful explanation, and your personal experience.

      D, who sent it to me, is a yoga teacher and I understand has a deeper understanding than the words I quoted might imply. As for me, I got the text from the Yale University website, and find the words helpful. I am not “praying” to a higher power, but stating my own intention, sometimes just one word of the text rather than all four lines. I found intense difficulty in wishing these things for myself, and moving on to another felt safer, initially, obeying the rules and not needing to value myself. So, mostly I have stuck with making this intention for myself, and recently for two others with whom I felt I had to create a good relationship.

      Do you perform the meditation wordlessly? I find it hard to hold any concept in my mind other than in words, though I can hear complex music with my mind’s ear.

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      • When I first started practicing this meditation pratice I used words, and often still do as they help me to access the feelings of love, acceptance, appreciation etc, towards myself; or the object of my meditation. Accessing the feeling state is vital as this is where change in the psyche happens – rather than we are when in a mental ‘thinking’ state.

        I understand the difficulties of being able to wish these things for oneself, but I remain convinced that it is essential to return to this stage of the practice. I believe it is impossible to fully love and accept another/others unless we can fully accept and love ourselves; otherwise we will always, albeit unconsciously, be looking for some approval or validation from the other in return for our acceptance of them. Eastern/Buddhist philosophy recognises we are one anyway so metta for myself is metta for all. By fully understanding/feeling the non-separation between myself and others it becomes impossible to do harm to either.

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