Metta on the go: 6 simple ways to take lovingkindness off the cushion (Day 17)

April 28, 2013

Lotus, isolated on whiteWhat a wonderful feeling – you’re in your favorite meditation pose generating loving-kindness, starting with yourself and gradually turning to the world. A feeling of connection to your loved ones, your sangha, and to all sentient beings fills you with bliss.

The metta bhavana is a powerful meditation. It opens the heart and engenders feelings of love and openness.

But what about when you’re off the cushion . . . like when you’re late for work in that long line for coffee? Or when you’re stuck in traffic and just want to get home? Is the loving-kindness still radiating from within you?

Below are 6 simple ways to weave that loving feeling through everyday experiences. … Read more »

Love letters to strangers (Day 16)

April 27, 2013

Lotus, isolated on whiteI’ve been talking, in these 100 Days of Lovingkindness posts, of ways we can cultivate metta, or lovingkindness. But we also need to put it into practice. We need to practice kindness — to show kindness to others.

One of the participants in our 100 Days Google+ Community shared what I thought was a beautiful practice. She wrote:

For a few days I was surreptitiously writing love notes and dropping them in unlikely places for whoever found them. It was a challenge to my poetic nature and a source of delight to me.

It sounds crazy, but harmlessly loving, and since I’m in a bit of a funk today I think I’ll write a little

Read more »

Loving your inner critic (Day 15)

April 26, 2013

Lotus, isolated on whiteWe all have an inner critic that tells us we’re not good enough. Sometimes it tells us far worse things than that — that we’re worthless, that no one likes us, that we’re essentially unlovable. In cultivating metta we’re supposed to love ourselves, but the inner critic is a part of us; how do we love that? And how to we stop listening to the inner critic long enough to experience any love for ourselves?

Actually all practice helps deal with our inner critic. Any mindfulness practice helps because as soon as you’re mindful of the brain’s “self-hatred module” you’re no longer being self-hatred. Self hatred is at its worst when we think that … Read more »

Speak kindly to yourself (Day 14)

April 25, 2013

Lotus, isolated on whiteThe other day I found myself having one of those odd, but common, daydreams where I was complaining to one friend about another friend. I was telling him about a situation where this third party was emotionally cutting me off. The conversation went on for a minute or so, and then I slipped from my daydream back into a more mindful state and realized that what I was saying wasn’t even close to being true. It was almost totally a fabrication. There was a tiny grain of truth, but the reality was completely different from how I was presenting it. I think what was happening was that I was looking for sympathy by taking a … Read more »

Cocooned in lovingkindness (Day 13)

April 24, 2013

Lotus, isolated on whiteWe’re almost two weeks into this 100 Days of Lovingkindness, but even after just five or six days the quality of my experience was radically different from usual.

I’ve felt considerably happier than I normally do. Blissfully happy, often. I’ve been much more patient with my children. I’ve been buffered from things that would normally press my buttons. I’ve been cocooned in lovingkindness.

To give you an example, last week I dropped my beloved iPad mini as I was putting it into my bag to head to work. I didn’t notice until I actually arrived at the office, but there was a huge crack right across the screen. Normally I’d feel sick about something like … Read more »

Guardian angel meditation (Day 11)

April 22, 2013

Lotus, isolated on whiteYou know when you’re sitting on a subway and there’s someone sitting directly opposite? It’s kind of awkward — all that trying not to make eye contact, and those embarrassing moments when we get caught looking at them…

There’s something of this sometimes in the metta bhavana (development of lovingkindness) meditation practice. It’s not so bad with the friend, since you’re used to making eye contact with them, but even there is can feel a bit odd to be mentally “sitting opposite” them for ten minutes or so. It’s just not very natural, is it? It’s rather stilted.

For quite a while now, I’ve been doing the lovingkindness practice in a different way. For one … Read more »

“For here there is no place that does not see you. You must change your life.” (Day 9)

April 20, 2013

Lotus, isolated on whiteYesterday I discussed what “well” means when we say “May you be well.” It’s not as straightforward as “physical health.” Today I’d like to talk about what “happy” means when we say “May you be happy.” Again this isn’t as straightforward as you might think.

I was prompted to think about this because of questions people had about the recent bombings at the Boston marathon, and what it means to cultivate lovingkindness for the bomber or bombers. But this applies to many of the people we find difficult, and whom we bring into the fourth stage of the metta bhavana practice.

One person commented that some of the people he finds difficult are destructive and … Read more »

Learning to see with the eyes of wholeness (Day 8)

April 19, 2013

Lotus, isolated on whiteA sticking point some people have with lovingkindness practice is what it means to wish someone “well.” This came up the other day with someone who has health difficulties that just aren’t going to go away. What does it mean for him to wish himself well? He’s not ever going to be completely healthy, so wellness is never going to be attained. What’s the point of wishing yourself something you can’t have? Isn’t that just a source of suffering. Yikes!

And the same applies to others. If you have a friend who’s, say, dying of cancer, what does it mean to wish them well?

There’s a nice little dialog that the Buddha has where he … Read more »

Looking with a loving gaze (Day 3)

April 14, 2013

Lotus, isolated on whiteFor today’s adventure in 100 Days of Lovingkindness I’m going to share a way of relating that I call “loving gaze.” This is borrowed from Jan Chozen Bays, who writes in How to Train a Wild Elephant of the practice of “Loving Eyes.”

In her book she says:

We know how to use loving eyes when we are falling in love, when we see a new baby or a cute animal. Why do we not use loving eyes more often?

So what we can do is to recall, or even just imagine, the experience of looking with loving eyes. You can recall (or imagine) looking at a beloved child, or a lover, or even a … Read more »

Getting started with lovingkindness (Day 1 of 100 Days of Lovingkindness)

April 12, 2013

Lotus, isolated on whiteWelcome to Day 1 of 100 Days of Lovingkindness!

So, what’s this 100 Days of Lovingkindness about?

We have a thriving community of practitioners over on Google Plus (do feel free to join us). We discuss our meditation practice and our lives, and we give each other support and encouragement. It’s wonderful. And late last year someone said they’d just meditated for 100 straight days and someone else suggested that we should all commit ourselves to sitting for 100 straight days in the New Year, and that turned more into the idea of establishing a habit of daily sitting over 100 days, and so we did the 100 Day Meditation Challenge together. Many of us … Read more »