May you be peaceful.
May you be happy.
May you be free from suffering.
May you be free.
I can see the memory of sitting in a circle with everyone in the open-air studio in Puerto Rico. We closed our eyes and were guided through seeing different people in our lives and bringing to mind the words, thoughts, energy, or prayers above.
I felt different sensations arise in my heart and through the rest of my body each time. Then we were to bring to mind someone who we found challenging. The teacher specifically told us to not go for the “big one” (whomever that may be) as it was our first time practicing.
So, of course, I did.
I brought my at the time biggest most intertwined-in-trauma challenge to mind. When I did, there was a jolt of energy and a huge crack of light and breaking open of emotion.
Yes, she was right…. perhaps I wasn’t quite ready… and….
It wouldn’t have happened unless I was ready. The jolt of energy was unlike anything I had ever experienced.
And, to be honest, the concept of this practice was also unlike anything I had ever experienced. We’re told things growing up (or at least I was) like “do onto others as you would have them do onto you” and, while that makes sense in some way, to practice it and to feel it in the body is something else entirely.
To bring to mind someone I love and feel the love then to send them peace, happiness, non-suffering, and freedom. To bring someone I don’t know well to mind and do the same. Someone I find challenging. Then, myself.
After that moment of first tasting Metta meditation, I practiced it daily for months. What I discovered was that by going into different scenarios that were emotionally charged or challenging, this meditation helped me to lessen, remove, or heal that charged emotion. I no longer held onto the charge which meant I no longer held onto the person in the same way. Non-attachment started to be created and allowed me to let go more and more, allowing me to move on inch by inch and not be stuck in the moments of the past. While also learning how to cultivate, grow, and deepen reserves of love. Reserves of what peace, happiness, non-suffering, and freedom feel like. To know how they feel in my body so I can call upon them more often in daily life. For myself and for others.
The transformational power of this practice has served me (and continues to serve me) well as I build up the reserves and learn how to love with kindness without bypassing emotion. For me, this practice has been about going into the emotions and transforming them. Learning that whatever I hold onto isn’t because of what others have “done”, it’s my own process of responding to them. It’s about going into my own selfishness and growing the “me” center of my brain into a “we” center.
Metta is one of the Four Brahma Viharas. The four are:
- Metta: loving kindness
- Karuna: compassion
- Mudita: sympathetic joy (feeling joy for others when they experience joy)
- Upekkha: equainmity
These are attitudes or ways of being towards other beings and work to bring relationships into favourable balance. They are also called the immeasurables. If you’d like to read more, there’s a wonderful article here.
Of course, for relationships with others to be or feel in balance, the relationship to and with ourselves must be. That is where the practice comes in.
That is why I want to share the practice with you by recording it so you can explore too. In the recording, I paired the Loving Kindness meditation I first learned with a Kriya meditation technique (focusing on the breath, spine, and a mantra or words) to first center your energy and give a foundation of grounding before diving in.
May it serve you well.