Introduction to Metta

Last month I focused on being fully present in the moment. Rooted in this moment, we are capable of much more than we ever would have imagined. We are able to be with whatever is happening in our current situation in a more open accepting way.

We are better able to stay in the present moment if we have an open friendly relationship with our thoughts and emotions. This quality of open friendliness is an aspect of loving kindness or ‘metta’.

Metta is a Pali word that translates as loving kindness, but it is a much more expansive state than the kind of selective love we feel for our family and friends, or the simple acts of kindness we do to them and to people of good will.

Metta is a more radiant quality. Like the sun, it shines on all without regard to personal preferences, desires, aversions and judgments.

Metta is rooted in the universal source of infinite love that we access when we are fully present in the moment. We become conduits of that radiance and we feel pure loving intention toward all beings.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But maybe not very realistic? Or maybe it doesn’t sound good at all! Notice your response.

Like being in the moment, metta is a practice. Being curious about our response to the idea of metta, of radiating love to all beings, is a good place to start. Right where you are, neck deep in preferences, aversions, and judgments. Sit with what thoughts and feelings arise as you read about metta. See if you can allow your thoughts to float up without feeling you either have to defend or deny them. They are just thoughts.

Is it difficult? That’s fine. Difficult or easy, it’s just the practice. Stay with it. Give yourself repeated opportunities to be in an open friendly relationship with your thoughts.

Now, if you can, try the first step of the traditional metta practice: send metta to yourself. You can use any wording that feels right. Standard Buddhist blessings include, “May I be well. May I be happy. May I be free from harm.”

Close your eyes and sit in silence, then allow these blessings to rise up and fill you. Say them silently or out loud. It doesn’t matter. See what happens as you say them. How does it make you feel? Peaceful or agitated? Is it easy or difficult to give yourself blessings?

If difficult, explore why you feel you don’t deserve your own blessing. Observe thoughts that come up and question whether they are the truth.

We bless ourselves first because we can’t share what we don’t have. Just like the instructions about the oxygen masks on the airplane. If you don’t put the mask on yourself first, you won’t be able to help anyone else.

So may you be well, may you be happy, may you be free from harm.

Let me know your thoughts on this.

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