Image / youichi
Somewhere in the flurry of a year full of violent attacks, political volleys and salvos, and a roller coaster of an election season, the baseline of civility and kindness in this country seems to have plummeted. As I've been seeing grief and sadness, frayed nerves, hostile conversations, people running themselves ragged living under the cloud of media-created fear and dread, I have wanted to offer something to help my community suffer a little less.
Some months ago, I created a month-long Metta Meditation Immersion. Initially, I made it for myself. My heart was weary and becoming hardened, and I wanted to nourish my heart and mind as well as retain my connection to life-giving, purpose-relaying, spirit-sustaining feeling. Even when it's difficult or challenging to feel, I know that being in connection with myself and what IS allows wisdom and creativity to guide my decisions and actions. So I followed the schedule recommended by one of my meditation teachers, taking one week to offer lovingkindness to myself, another week to offer lovingkindness to someone I respect, a third week to offer wishes of well-being to a neutral person in my life, and finally, offering lovingkindness and wishes of well-being to a person with whom I have difficulty.
I spent four weeks working primarily with this heart-opening, kindness-enhancing practice, a little every day. While I've long appreciated the practice of Metta Meditation, it had never been presented to me as medicine, a balm if you will, that can be used when mind and body are in need of replenishment, when (for one reason or another) the deeper delving of insight practice feels depleting. I'd also never before worked with Metta at such length, in such a continuous way.
Through immersion in this one practice for a month, I found a deep replenishment of energy, a return of curiosity, and a deeper rooting of my ability to hold a vast calm amidst uncertainty and discord. After practicing this way for a month, I found myself able to return to that state during daily life, within seconds or moments of encountering conflict or discord. I found my heart more able to stay open and steady, come what comes.
I believe that a great deal of the suffering we are experiencing in this moment - that secondary suffering created in our unskillful responses to difficulty - could be alleviated if we were all taking very good care of our hearts and minds. Ragged nervous systems cannot regulate themselves properly. Over-stressed, under-slept, and fear-consuming minds cannot find the space it takes to be kind, to really listen with the goal of understanding, to create solutions. And we need all the kindness, understanding and creativity we can cultivate right now.
Please accept this offering of a guided meditation training in lovingkindness, free to you and anyone you think could benefit from it from now thru the end of this year. I would love to see us take responsibility for supporting our mental and physical health, responsibility for directing our attention towards useful action and creative solutions, responsibility for being civil and kind to one another through whatever comes. Most of us need some help with that right now. May this help you and yours. Download freely and share this post freely, my friends. Thank you.
Breathe deeply, practice often, be well.
Dana Wyss Healing Arts