Given this week’s tragic events here in Toronto, I feel the “Loving Kindness” meditation discussed in today’s offering is especially poignant in this moment. In the face of such heartbreaking sadness, there is a common thread in all human beings, a shared experience of seeking happiness and to be free from suffering. The need for self-love is ceaseless in our North American society, but also, cultivating love and kindness towards others is what, in Buddhist teaching, is the true path to happiness.
“All the happiness the world has to offer comes from desiring well-being for others. And all the suffering the world has to offer comes from desiring happiness solely for oneself.”
– Dalai Lama
There has been an ever-present need for us to emerge from the darkness and into the light, both literally and figuratively, like a crocus pushing through the ground, seeking out the sun. After many false starts this year, the renewal of spring brings with it the setting of intentions. For me, deepening and committing to a daily practice of meditation is on the list of intentions for this upcoming season.
I was introduced to Sharon Salzburg, founder of Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA, and the practise of Loving Kindness meditation, by my dear friend Genevieve. Salzburg states, “The practise of Loving Kindness, or “Metta”, is very much heart-focused, and looks to cultivate states of compassion to ourselves and others. It offers a profound sense of connection looking at, and knowing we are connected. It is a practise of generosity”.
- Sit in a comfortable quiet spot either on the floor or in a chair. Take a few slow breaths, inhaling and exhaling calmly and smoothly. Then, begin repeating the following mantra to yourself: “May I be safe, May I be happy, May I be healthy, May I live life with ease”
- When speaking the word, “I”, focus on an mental image of yourself. Repeat the entire mantra several times this way.
- Next, replace the word, “I” with the name of someone who you consider a teacher a benefactor, or someone you love dearly. Repeat the above phrases, having an image of this person in your minds eye.
- Next, use the name of someone you feel you are experiencing difficulty with, who you may feel is your enemy, or who has feelings of enmity towards you. Repeat the mantra, bringing this person into your heart.
- Lastly, send loving kindness to all beings, and the whole world: “May all beings be safe, be happy, be healthy and have ease in their life.”
This meditation can be your main mediation practice, or what I tend to do is end my mindfulness practise with this Metta practice. It’s up to you.