Its been a crazy week. The terrorist attack in London. The last minute posturings in the election. The sobering reality that election day doesn’t bring any closure as the bickering and manoeuvring goes on.
This week I’ve been drawn in my own practice, and in class, to the practice of Metta Meditation.
Metta is a concept of loving kindness, and Metta Meditation a key part of Buddhist practice. Its sending an energy of loving kindness to ourselves and the world around, invoking healing and the raising of collective consciousness.
In practical terms various slightly different forms of Metta Meditation exist, and the one I tend to use is:
May I and all beings be well
May I and all beings be at peace
May I and all beings feel connected
May I and all beings be free of suffering, and the roots of suffering, and enjoy genuine happiness
Each phrase is repeated a number of times under the breath, and maybe with the focus on ourselves, someone we know who is struggling or on a place or situation – London Bridge or Westminster maybe?
Maybe you repeat each phrase half a dozen times and move on, or maybe you work for a set time – at home my own preference is to work with a timer, eg Insight Timer, and to work with each phrase for three minutes; in class we maybe work for between 1 and 1½ minutes on each phrase.
To a degree there are no rules, the whole concept of loving kindness starts with ourselves and not being self violent in how we approach practice – for example turning off the self criticism if we don’t practice daily, or don’t manage to avoid distraction. The key, it seems to me is, intent – change through subtle energy.
The Metta practice certainly can help us as individuals in inducing a sense of calm and perspective. My own experience a couple of years ago in a difficult situation was that sending Metta to those I was in conflict with changed the dynamic of the conflict very quickly on both sides – to that end it absolutely rose above my own experience and influenced a small part of the universe elsewhere – very difficult to explain with words but, of course, very much like prayer – and lets face it which of us don’t shoot up a prayer from time to time, even if irregularly.
So maybe this weekend send Metta to those who lost loved ones, family and friends in Manchester or London Bridge (or indeed Westminster Bridge a few weeks ago); maybe send Metta to the conflicts in the world; maybe send Metta to our political leaders recognising their humanity and frailty – how tired must you be after six weeks of electioneering? Maybe use Metta to thank our political leaders for their service, however much we may find the policies and personalities difficult.
Above all send Metta to ourselves.
May you be well; May you be at peace; May you be connected; May you be free from suffering and know genuine happiness.