How many emails do you write in the average day? I just did a quick count and yesterday alone it was 64! Many of the messages I write are business emails and don’t have a salutation or valediction, plunging straight into the message. But some of them start with “Dear (whoever)” or “Hi!” and end with a sign-off.
I usually end those kinds of emails with “Metta, Bodhipaksa.” Metta is the Buddhist word for kindness. It’s often translated as “lovingkindness,” although I think the word kindness works much better, mainly because it’s familiar and experiential.
So I was responding to someone who said he couldn’t attend a gathering today because of work, and I was signing off with “Metta, Bodhipaksa” when it occurred to me that I could actually connect with warmth and kindness toward the person I was writing with.
Normally those sign-offs are just a formality. I don’t really think about what I’m saying.
So instead of doing that I just paused for a few seconds and called to mind the person I was writing to. I simply remembered that he was a feeling human being, that he had joys and sorrows just as I do, and that those feelings are as important to him as mine are to me. A sense of warmth and kindness naturally arose as I did this. I still feel different, perhaps half an hour after writing doing this exercise, which literally took just a few seconds.
Incidentally, this is how I teach people the practice of cultivating metta/kindness — the meditation practice we call “metta bhavana” (bhavana just means cultivation). You don’t need to “try to be nice” (yuck!) or try to make anything happen. Kindness just arises naturally when we empathize with the facts that others feel, and that their feelings are as important to them as ours are to us.
So there’s a new practice for me; I’m going to pause every time I write, “With metta, Bodhipaksa” and empathize with the person I’m writing to.
I can’t believe it took 36 years of meditating to come up with that one…
What a simple, beautiful way to get in touch with our feelings of lovingkindness during the day and to cultivate more meaningful relationships. Thank you Bodhipaksa.
You’re welcome, Christie.
I love reading about how meditation / mindfulness work starts to blend into our daily work life. There have been too many times that I reread an email before I click send and have to remind myself that there is another human, like me, on the other end. They may appreciate a simple “hey” and not just a “where is X?” I’m all about efficiency and for awhile I thought saving words in an email was part of that. Not realizing that long term it would be better to build meaningful bonds and appreciate the other person not just the deliverable. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you, sir.
May you be blessed with the Noble Triple Gem.
Thank you so much with sharing this!
What an insight! Just to really mean what you are saying! – hello, goodbye or wishing well to the people. That rises level of consciousness a lot and sends a strong good energy!
With Metta, Irina