Metta or loving kindness can range from simple well wishing to all out radiant healing light-energy. It’s all good. But let’s stay with simple well wishing for now.
In the last post we started with sending metta to ourselves. “May I be well. May I be happy. May I be free from harm.” Or similar phrases. Whatever simple blessings that come naturally to you.
Nothing coming naturally? Don’t give up yet! If giving metta to yourself is too hard, skip it for now and try this one:
Send loving kindness to someone in your life for whom you have warm feelings. For the purposes of this exercise, choose someone like a teacher or mentor, a person to whom you feel some gratitude, but may not know so well that your thoughts get complicated with any negative judgments you may have. Picture the person in your mind and send them blessings. “May you be well. May you be happy. May you be free from harm.” Or words to that effect.
Whatever your response to this exercise, just note it.
If it felt pleasant and easy, move on to sending blessings to other people that come to mind. Choose some neutral person, someone whom you don’t know well at all, like the checker in the grocery store. If that was easy, try sending it to family members and friends.
If, on the other hand, it felt difficult in any way, try to relax into a spacious generous awareness of your thoughts and feelings around this process. Use it as an opportunity to explore your attitudes and beliefs. There are no ‘shoulds’ here. You feel what you feel, you think what you think. This is about becoming aware of these thoughts and feelings. It’s a way of teasing them out into the light where you can examine them. Perhaps you have never really looked at them before. Never questioned them. Never followed them back to their roots.
Difficulty with sending metta can, for example, be rooted in some ancient schoolyard humiliation, where we were made to feel uncool for expressing heartfelt emotions. See if a particular past incident rises up in your awareness, one that captures the flavor of what you are feeling. Let yourself relive that experience from an adult perspective, knowing what you know now. Then really look at that experience and question its power over you all these years later. Sometimes just that little bit of informed reflection can release a tight knot in our psyches. That’s rich exploration!
If nothing comes up, don’t be concerned. Simply stay with whatever does arise. And experiment with different ways of sending metta that might be a work-around for you for now. Maybe “I hope things go well for you.”
When we begin sending metta, we are entering into a relationship with this time-honored practice. Whether it is difficult or easy, there will be openings, transitions, insights and awakenings. It is a rich and long tradition. Trust the path that has been so lovingingly cleared by so many for so long.