Monthly Archives: February 2014

Uppekka – Be like the sky!

The fourth of the Four Brahma Viharas is Uppekka, the ability to hold all that passes through our current experience with equanimity.

When something delightful and something sorrowful are happening at the same time, the ability to hold it all in an open embrace is such a blessing! But for most of us it is very difficult to imagine. I remember a woman saying she didn’t know how she could attend her daughter’s wedding with joy when her lifelong closest friend was in the last stages of dying in a nearby hospital. She felt completely split, pulled in both directions. She felt guilty for not being completely there for her daughter and guilty for not being completely there for her friend. There was no escaping the discomfort of her thoughts and emotions.

As we age, we experience these kinds of situations more often. Loved ones become ill or die. Babies are born. Joys and sorrows abound. It is with the grace of uppekka that we are able to hold them. How? That is our exploration today.

Each of the Four Brahmaviharas has an elemental quality for me. (It may have for others but I haven’t heard or read about it from any other teachers.) As previously mentioned, metta (loving-kindness) is radiant like the sun, karuna (compassion) is solid, present and receptive like the earth. Mudita (sympathetic joy) could be likened to dancing sparkling water, reflecting back all that is near it, and flowing without any sense of obstacle. Now here we are at uppekka, and I would liken it to the sky. The sky can hold clouds, rainbows, thunderstorms, and snow all at the same time within its spacious expanse. The sky holds it all, whatever it is, with equanimity. The sky is still the sky.

Try to imagine the sky dealing with clouds and other phenomena in a more typically human way: running away, avoidance through distraction, either over-efforting or getting lost in the pursuit of pleasure, turning its back on it all, throwing up its hands, falling apart, turning to drugs to numb itself, etc. Ridiculous, isn’t it? For the sky, and for us as well.

We can be like the sky. Whatever arises in our experience, we can expand in our ability to hold it in an open embrace. With attention, with tenderness, with compassion, but without clinging or grasping.

For example, a daughter’s wedding happening the very week a friend is dying. How do we do it? Like the sky! We attend each moment — whether at the betrothal or at the bedside — with our fullest possible attention, anchoring into physical sensation as we do in meditation and any time we want to bring ourselves fully present.

While at the wedding, we probably at times notice threads of thought and emotion streaming through our field of awareness. They arise and fall away, ebb and flow: Thoughts of the friend, memories of times together, sadness at the thought of losing future moments. Natural thoughts to have, natural emotions to experience. But as we anchor into physical sensation to be present in the moment, we find we are able to experience thoughts without getting lost in them.

Most commonly people want to know how they can ‘get rid of thoughts’ that will take them out of the present moment. Uppekka is the answer, but it points up the error in the question itself. It answers the deeper need. We don’t ‘get rid’ of anything. We use our meditation practice to expand our ability to hold all of what arises in a spacious way. We anchor into physical sensation to be present as much as possible, but if there is something else going on, thoughts and feelings may very well arise. We see them, note them, send metta, loving-kindness, to the person or situation that keeps coming up in our awareness. We do this even as we maintain full awareness of physical sensation, including the sights and sounds of our current experience. But if we have lost our attention to it, we simply reset our intention to be present, to follow the breath, etc. We create space. We don’t get entangled in judgment. And when we do, we reset our paired intentions to be present and compassionate. These two activities together create uppekka, the ability to hold all of our experience with equanimity.

There is a shift of consciousness that happens as we develop a steady meditation practice. With Wise Intention, Wise Effort, and Wise Concentration, a quality of Wise View will naturally arise. Instead of believing yourself to be tiny and separate tossed about by the sea of thought and emotion, swallowing, choking and feeling you are drowning; you come into a sense of infinite connection and spaciousness. A quality of Wise Mindfulness will arise: You are the sky that holds all experience, spacious and alive with equanimity. Not just when the sun is shining or the clouds are cute and fluffy. You can hold the hurricanes that pass through as well. Expand into equanimity! That is the practice.

Mudita – The Antidote to Envy

So there you are, walking down the street and you see a toddler splashing joyfully in a puddle or pointing to a ‘boid’ with delight, and your own mood lifts. Your heart lightens. You are reminded of the beauty and wonder of life. That is mudita, sympathetic joy, the third of the Four Brahma Viharas. But maybe joy isn’t what you experience at all. Perhaps you don’t even notice the child because you are so caught up in ‘thinking, thinking’ that you are not present in the moment. Or perhaps you find children annoying so feel immune to childish delight. Or maybe the child is a symbol of something you wanted in your life or something you’ve lost, and the sight and sound of that little person’s delight opens painful wounds. As we practice metta (loving-kindness) and find a softening and a deepening sense of connection with all of life, even with difficult people, we develop authentic compassion (karuna), and this quality of sympathetic joy, mudita. These are some of the fruits of practice. For most of us, there are people we love so much — family and close friends — that to see them happy makes us happy. But we may not be so familiar with experiencing joy at the sight of a stranger’s happiness. In fact, we may have experienced quite the opposite, when at the sight of someone else’s happiness we felt envy or self-pity. As you meditate and become more aware of the nature of mind, you have probably come upon some difficult thought or emotion arising in your field of experience. Envy is just one of them. When we notice it, we might then experience some shame at its existence. Mudita is a mental state we can savor when it occurs, but mudita practice helps us to work with the difficulties that arise, especially around envy, feelings of failure, comparison and general disgruntlement. When we discover constricted, grumpy thoughts or feelings, we are in a position of awareness. We may be in the habit of beating ourselves up or finding an external distraction. What a lost opportunity! With practice we can face the fear and discomfort, and find joy in the process. What is envy? This emotion, that arises around the perception that other people have what we want for ourselves, is rooted in fear. Looked at with Wise View, we can see that this is the same old fear that is at the root of all difficult emotions: The fear of being separate. This fear manifests in worry about not being enough, in feeling we have something to prove. Whom do we have to prove it to? Someone we feel separate from, someone we long to be recognized by, someone we want to love us unconditionally and respect us for who we are, even the bits we are not proud of. Wise View lets us understand that we are not separate. We are in this amazing experience of being, briefly, seemingly separate, the way a drop of water soaring over a waterfall is temporarily separate from the cycles of water of which it is intrinsically a part. On a molecular level, we are not at all separate from the rest of life. Yet much of what we do in our lives is actively create a sense of separation, build a separate identity, make a mark, matter in the eyes of others. On one level that may be our purpose here, who knows? But how much richer is the experience if we also sense the deeper connection, the intrinsic nature of being! We can celebrate this gift of life, this brief sense of separate volition and identity without succumbing to the belief that it is all there is. The gift of life is not the accumulation of stuff or relationships or prestige or anything else. It is simply the gift of being fully present with whatever arises.
When we find we are experiencing envy or another related emotion, it doesn’t help to compound that misery by saying, ‘What a terrible person I must be to feel envy when I should feel mudita.’ Instead, we can use the awareness of mudita to shine a little light on our thoughts and emotions, ask a few questions, and find some spaciousness in our experience. We can ask, for example, if the envied person’s happiness is the cause of our own unhappiness. If that person lost what they have, would we gain it? Usually not. And in the rare circumstance that that would be true, would that gaining actually create our happiness? We can look to our own experiences of happiness to recognize that whatever joy comes from external circumstances is temporal. We think that purchase or experience or connection will make us happy, but we quickly absorb these new conditions into our lives. They become the new normal. External conditions are unreliable and cannot create true and lasting happiness. We may still want them, but we would be foolish to rely on them for happiness. We create happiness by taking the time to be present, to experience what is true in this moment. We create suffering (dukkha) by grasping and clinging and wanting things to be different from how they are. If we begrudge other people the things we wish we had, then we expand our suffering to include them as well. Not purposely probably but just out of the discomfort of being around people who have what we crave. It’s like a sugar addict sitting at a table where desserts are displayed but denied. Check in to see if you believe that the other person is responsible for your suffering. And if so, really take some time to quiet down, center in and question that belief. Perhaps you have been on the receiving end of someone’s inability to tolerate your happiness. From your perspective the person seems like a self-destructive razor-sharp tornado of misery. Any effort you make to reach out causes you pain. If you can see that it is your situation — the very existence of your success, your love life or your children — that aggravates them, then it’s easier not to take it personally. And there is no reason to feel guilty for your own situation, unless achieved in some unethical way. Just letting other people have their happiness without faulting them for it is a major step for some of us. It’s important to remember that this letting go is not a loss but an opening to joy, a joy not dependent on causes and conditions. We can’t know with any certainty another person’s suffering. Likewise we can’t assume they are happy simply because they have a nice house, or good health, or any other item or situation. There are happy and miserable people in every walk of life and profession. The person who wins the lottery may have a temporary thrill, but within a year studies show they return to their previous level of happiness. We are very adaptable, and we adapt to changes of circumstance, treating it as the new normal. So mudita is feeling happy for the happiness of others because we sense our underlying unity. From this deep rooted sense of connection, we feel their joy as if it were our own. And then we drop the ‘as if.’ Because the shared joy melts the possessive edges that can never adequately contain true happiness. From this perspective we can see more clearly that no person’s good fortune is stolen at our expense, and that no human being has a life devoid of pain, no matter how perfect their life may seem to us. How do we find mudita? When we quiet down in meditation, anchor into physical sensation to stay present with whatever is arising in this very moment, tap into this infinite source, deeply know that all is one, then we find that joy is contagious and bountiful.

Compassion (Karuna)

We have been talking about metta, loving-kindness. We have been practicing sending it to ourselves, other individuals and out to all beings with phrases like May all beings be well.

Metta is the first of the Four Brahma Viharas, which in Pali (the language the Buddha spoke) means ‘heavenly abodes.’ What are these heavenly abodes? You could say they are states or qualities of being. They are also practices that help us feel those qualities.
For example, perhaps as you have been practicing metta you have noticed a shift in how you feel. Perhaps your heart has softened a bit around some situation or relationship. And if so, perhaps this has informed your view of the way things are, created some spaciousness around your previously unquestioned assumptions.

Metta practice also causes to arise the three other Brahma Viharas:
  • karuna — compassion;
  • mudita — sympathetic joy
  • upekkha — equanimity

There are specific practices for each of the Brahma Viharas as well.

We will look at Karuna now, and then the other two in the next two weeks.

We might think that compassion and loving-kindness are pretty much the same thing. Metta practice does bring about a sense of compassion, but they are not the same. I describe loving-kindness as being radiant like the sun, an expansive embrace that wishes every good blessing to all without exception.

Compassion is more like the earth: solid, supportive, available. The earth has no particular agenda in regard to any individual. But talk about a shoulder to lean on! The earth is ever ready to receive whatever tears we might shed.

In my December 17, 2008 post I said:

This earth-like quality, Karuna, gives effortlessly from its bounty. You never see the earth running around assessing needs, doling out its nourishment in fair proportions for each plant. The earth is just there, fully present and fully supportive. 

So how does this translate for us? Can we be like the earth to someone in need? Can we relax and just be present. Can we be solid enough for them to lean on, receptive enough to receive their tears, and available for whatever they have in mind in any given moment? 

This may be a real challenge for us if we are used to being in charge, if we like to direct the show, if we automatically make assumptions about the needs of others, if we have an agenda, or if we have to try to fix everything.”

I find this earth analogy useful in my own practice. When I try hard to be compassionate and overdo it to the discomfort of the very person I want to help, I can ask, ‘Would the earth do this? I don’t think so!’

We had an excellent discussion about compassion in class. I asked the students ‘What is the difference between compassion and ‘feeling sorry for’ or ‘having pity for’ ourselves or someone else?
Pause before going on and ask that question of yourself.

All the answers in the class were very wise and pointed to different aspects of the dharma, incorporating Wise View. For example, one student said the word ‘for’ suggests that we feel separate from the individual we feel sorry for. Such a good point of distinction. Compassion is an embrace of connection, acknowledging we are all in this together, all made of the same stuff. There is no separate self if we really look closely at the nature of things. When we feel sorry for someone, we falsely believe them to be ‘other’.

Why do we do that? Why do we sometimes (or often) stand back, hold off, or shy away from making ourselves available to those who are suffering? We may want that sense of separation to sustain the belief that whatever calamity has befallen them will not likely befall us. This desire for distance from difficulty causes may cause us to turn away right at the time when loved ones most need our support. If this sounds familiar, notice the self-judgment that arises. Then send a little metta. And hold this experience of noticing with compassion.

Noticing is key. One student spoke of her growing ability to be present through meditation practice has helped her to notice that when she is bothered by the behavior of someone else, she is actually upset with herself for being angry. Through the practice, she was able to look underneath the anger and says she found sadness. She doesn’t know what that sadness is about, but is for the first time ready to be with it and let it reveal itself. Such insightful noticing! And a willingness to allow the process to happen rather than force answers. (Remember dear Rilke in his advice to a young poet — to love the questions themselves.)

Another student said for her compassion is a quality of acceptance of ourselves and others. This is not resignation. There’s a huge distinction. Acceptance opens us to all that is going on in this moment. If we accept, then we don’t turn away. We face our fears, see the suffering in that fear. Only then are able to be compassionate with ourselves, and in turn feel true compassion for others who are suffering.

We notice suffering in meditation. The harshness of our own self-talk, for example. Not just the particular words we use, but the tone of our voice even when using words that might otherwise seem neutral, like noting ‘thought’ or ‘memory’’ or ‘planning’. No wonder we want to be distracted by some external focus!

Through the regular practice of metta and karuna, we come to understand that we are human, we are not our thoughts and like all beings we deserve kindness and compassion.

Once we are able to have compassion for ourselves, we can have true compassion for a friend, a family member, and a person we see in the street. Once we understand there is no ‘other’, then instead of thinking, ‘There but for the grace of God go I’, and count ourselves lucky by comparison, we might recognize the truth: ‘There go I.’

We are all life expressing itself in a myriad of ways.
Read with fresh eyes this well-known poem by John Donne:No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.

Practical Suggestions for Compassion PracticeWe may want to be of use to someone who is suffering, but we might feel at a loss to know what would be truly useful, what would be the right thing to say or do. Think back to some time when you were suffering a particular big loss — of a loved one, your job, your health, for example — and remember someone who was there for you. You might also remember someone who tried to be there for you but seemed to be struggling with their own discomfort. Then remember how it felt when someone you thought was close seemed to disappear at your time of need. This is not to judge any of them. We are all doing the best we can in any given moment. But when we are learning how to best offer help and heartfelt condolences, it’s good to have some basis of personal reference. So feel free to emulate the person who provided you with the most comfort. And when you are feeling resistance to being there for someone, remember how it felt to have someone shrink away at your time of need. We all have times we weren’t, so don’t bother feeling bad about it. Just use it as a guidepost for future behavior.

The ‘Me Too’ Impulse
A typical response to someone who is suffering is to try to create connection by sharing some similar experience. This desire to connect is natural, but the impulse sometimes goes awry. The student in our class with the most recent experience of great loss was able to give some very useful insight. She said it was very helpful to have someone who had been through the same kind of loss say simply, ‘I understand. Yes, that’s what I experienced too.’ Their understanding helped her to recognize that what she was going through was perfectly normal, part of the experience.
What is NOT helpful, she says, is to take the focus away by launching into a story about that similar experience, or someone else’s that we know, or heard about. I know this is true, yet caught myself doing just this the other evening. (Practice makes us aware, but it clearly doesn’t make ‘perfect’!) The need to create a common bond is very strong. And when we are in a conversation about loss, memories of our own losses do tend to arise. But this is something we can all keep in mind.
The Sudden Stranger
If you’ve ever had a serious life-threatening illness you know how it is to have people suddenly look at you differently, with pity in their eyes. Agh!
I’m still me! you say. Hello! This is just an experience I am having now. Please stop looking at me that way!Can we see beyond circumstance, beyond causes and conditions, and recognize the energetic life force that connects us all? Can we allow people to be seen? Can we allow ourselves to be seen? This is compassion.

A Karuna Exercise
fter you have meditated, or at least spent a few minutes quietly sensing in to physical sensation, notice whatever is arising in your experience: an ache, a tightness, an energetic quality, a difficult series of thoughts, an emotion, a judgment — whatever there is to notice in your experience at this time. Now imagine holding whatever it is cradled in your arm like a newborn baby. Maybe it’s a red-faced angry baby! But hold it in your arms and soothe it in whatever way feels natural to you. The purpose is not to change what is, but to attend it with compassion. You might wish you could set the ‘baby’ down or hand it off to someone else, but just stay with it. Just see what happens. Be the parent who is always there. Be the earth offering unqualified support. That’s karuna.

Metta resistant? Exploring deeper.

Some people are uncomfortable with sending metta (loving-kindness), but metta practice is an important part of awakening to the present moment. Why? Because metta is the way we can stay fearless in the face of what terrifies us in any given moment. That’s right! Loving-kindness may sound like some wimpy practice, but it is brave and valiant! Practice it and you will see this for yourself.

In class we did another extended metta practice. Metta uses phrases in the form of “May I be…”, ‘May you be…” and “May all beings be…”. These blessings are empowering. They are not begging for something from someone far away. (If you believe in God, don’t imagine your God as small and distant. Let God be infinite! That is the nature of God.) Metta is infinite and we quiet down enough to attune to it. In this state we are able to be both receptors of and conduits for metta. This is most definitely not a wimpy practice!

But perhaps if you feel resistance, it is not the wimpy factor but the woo-woo factor. Okay, I get that. I’m very uncomfortable with anything that seems too ‘out there’ myself. There’s this inner skeptic that just shudders. That’s good in that I don’t easily succumb to any old idea that comes down the pike, but it’s unfortunate in that even something that is valid and valuable may just be too much for me to embrace. 

There are two things that can help you if you feel the same. First, Buddhism’s been around 2500 years and is a solid established set of teachings that works. Second, science is catching up! The deeper research goes into understanding the nature of energy and matter, the more it sounds like Buddhist teachings. I doubt there’s a scientific study on metta per se, but I also have no doubt there will be. Waiting around for some white-coat in a lab to tell you it’s okay is kinda wimpy. Give metta practice a try and see for yourself.

Even though I always use the same four blessings: ‘May you be well’, ‘…at ease’, ‘…at peace’ and ‘…happy’, you might choose variations on those. For example, a traditional one is ‘May you be free from harm.’ I don’t use that one because it is more complex and incorporates a word — ‘harm’ — that brings forth constricting mental imagery.

If you find different phrases that feel right for you, feel free to use them instead. But remember that they are not requests for specific outcomes, like, ‘May I win the lottery” or ‘May my son ace his test.’ This kind of specificity cuts out the infinite nature of metta. It’s back to just you thinking you know best, wishing for something out of fear. Very constricting and definitely not metta.

Here is a deeper look at the ones I use:

May you be well.
This covers all physical and mental imbalances that cause any kind of disease. By sending the metta of wellness to ourselves and others, we are attuning the balancing energy of wellness. We do not have to provide any other prescription or cure. We do not have to define the illness. May you be well is sufficient for the purpose.
Clearly this is not to be confused with any anti-medical agenda. May you be well might include, without actual mention, ‘may you be smart enough to go see the doctor’. But for the purposes of well wishing, if we get specific we are putting too much of a constraint on the energy, putting it too much through our own knowledge based, instead of allowing it to activate a field of energy and allow for whatever needs to happen to happen.
Sometimes ‘May you be well’ is in effect, ‘may you be well in this time of transitioning out of life’ when sent to someone who is dying. ‘May you be well’ accepts Wise View of the nature of impermanence and interconnection.

May you be at ease.
As we sit in meditation, we become aware of tension in the body and mind. We learn ways to release the tension to whatever degree we are able. We can see how this tension is the way the body holds onto the stories of the past and the fears for the future that keep us from being fully present. If we let go of the tension in the body then the mind is better able to stay fully present in this, the only moment that exists. All other moments are just thoughts — memories and imaginings. This is the ease that we are wishing for ourselves and others. May you find ease in this moment. It’s not about having an easy life, living in the lap of luxury, only sitting on the softest of chairs. However, if you find that you tend toward harshness and spartan ways, a little of that kind of ease would not go amiss!

May you be at peace.
This is a blessing that acknowledges that within each of us is an ongoing struggle. Various aspects of self (rooted in misunderstanding of experiences we were too young or too blind to understand at the time) vie for power over our thoughts and actions. As we sit in meditation and our thoughts settle down, we are able to hear the ones that arise more clearly. We can see the contentious nature of the things we constantly tell ourselves. We can see the inner struggle.
So this blessing creates a spacious quality of awareness and understanding that creates a peaceful abiding within us. When a fear-based thought arises, it is seen, acknowledged but as it passes through the spaciousness of metta and awareness, it is just a thought, and doesn’t have the power to cause harm. This is blessing we give ourselves and others through our wish for peace.

May you be happy.
This blessing may feel like someone is suggesting we just ‘snap out of it’ and put on a happy face. Given all the good things in life, they feel we should be happy or we are ingrates.

When sending this and other blessings to a ‘difficult person’ we might have resistance as well: If that person is bent on doing something immoral, aren’t we wishing them success in this wrongful endeavor?

In both cases, we need to better understand the nature of metta. The happiness we are talking about is not the result of any external cause or condition. It is not the thrill of achieving or acquiring anything. It is a joy that arises when we savor the experience of being alive in any moment, regardless of circumstances. This comes from understanding the nature of impermanence and interconnection; and that grasping, clinging and pushing away cause suffering. Challenging experiences are seen more clearly. With metta we are empowered to face fear that in the past has made us run the other way. We are better able to hold the joy and the sorrow of life with equanimity. This is what we wish for ourselves and for all others. We recognize that harmful behavior is a reaction to fear. So if someone is behaving badly, sending metta is not condoning their behavior. It is addressing their core fear, and in doing so might cause a shift of understanding within them. But when we send metta we are not trying to change anyone. We don’t need to! Accessing metta is powerful beyond measure and doesn’t need or benefit from specific instruction from us.

Metta in any moment
Sending lovingkindness is not something we reserve for a particular time of day when we are sitting in meditation. In every moment we have perfect opportunities to practice metta. For example, when driving, if another driver does something really unskillful, that could have killed us, we naturally contract into fear. Often that kicks us into judgment, anger and sometimes causes us to do something unskillful ourselves. What if instead of reacting, we take that action as a reminder to be present and to be compassionate. We might remember times when we been unskillful on the road. Perhaps this person is going through some life challenges, is racing to the hospital to be at the bedside of a loved one who is dying. We don’t know! And because we don’t know, there is room for us to negotiate a little with our judgments and anger. We can decide to give that person the benefit of the doubt. In that moment we may feel moved to send them some loving-kindness. ‘May you be well.’ And in that instant, something shifts within us. We are present, alert, alive and sensing our connection with all of life.
There are moments when we would benefit from sending metta to ourselves. We notice we’re upset about something. We focus on physical sensation, and probably notice tension in the body. We send some loving-kindness to ourselves and to the person or situation we are upset about, and we find we can come back into balance.

Always keep your access to infinite loving-kindness handy. It’s free and it has so many valuable uses!

Metta Questions Answered Here

At the end of every meditation I lead, I offer some guided metta (loving kindness) practice, usually just to ourselves and then to all beings. In this week’s class I led a series of metta exercises to more fully explore and experience the power of metta.

Traditional metta practice is to first send metta to ourselves with well-wishing phrases like: May I be well. May I be happy. May I be at ease. May I be at peace.

Then we send out metta to a person it is very easy to send such well-wishing to: a small child, a beloved elder, someone we wish all good things without any undertow of grumbly qualifications.

Then we send metta to what is called a neutral person. This is someone we know only through brief interactions, such as the grocery store checker, a neighbor, a mail deliverer, etc. May you be well, etc.

Then we send metta to ‘a difficult person’. This could be someone close to us with whom we have challenges. For whatever reason, they push our buttons. We just don’t get along. Interactions are frustrating, unsatisfactory and unsettling. This is probably a person whom we don’t like to think about too much because we get agitated.
If there is no such person that comes to mind, we can focus on a high-profile person whose beliefs, choices or actions we find reprehensible.

Of course, we can always send metta to someone we know whom we feel especially needs some extra blessings right now.

We always end by sending out metta to all beings. May all beings be well, etc. This is not just a nicety, but a reminder of the infinite nature of metta, and a reminder that we, as part of the circle of beings, are worthy of metta too.

Sometimes people have a difficult time sending metta to themselves, but we cannot skip this part or the rest will not work. In order to demonstrate this, I did an exercise where we skipped the metta to ourselves and just did the easy, neutral and difficult person. We checked in to see how that felt after each one.

If you would like to demonstrate this to yourself, try sending metta out to a ‘difficult person’. Then do a round of sending metta to yourself. Then try sending metta to the difficult person again, and see what shifts.

After the practice, I gave a dharma talk on metta, but because I have talked and written so much about metta, I think here I will provide a little Metta index with links to the various metta talks as they answer a variety of questions you might have.

As you can see there are lots of posts on metta. Why? Because it is SO central to the cessation of creating suffering for ourselves and others. It can also help us be more present to savor and engage in this moment. So give yourself some metta and then share it far and wide.