December 27, 2013
Having some time off for the holidays is providing the opportunity to go deeper into my yoga and meditation. I am in my 50’s so the yoga is very gentle, but none-the-less, it does provide the opportunity for some soft and sweet moments of clarity and “perfection”. Perfection is in quotes because I don’t know if there is such a thing, and yet I want to connote a special experience that is pure.
Over the years of my life I have tried to learn about Zen and Buddhism in general. Practice was sporadic at best. Not a great deal of intention or commitment on my part. In my life now, the intention for meditating has increased and the commitment has become stronger. My style of meditation does not fall under a label or a school. I have gone a couple of times to a Center in the area that focuses on Meditative Inquiry. It is a very personal, non-scripted place. There are no “teachers”. there is no ritual. There is no transmission. All there is is Presence. Mindfulness. Now. Being.
This morning I listened to a meditation by Tara Brach.
At the end of one of her meditations she suggested offering a Prayer of Care. First to ourselves, then to the greater community, the world. Not unlike the Metta Loving Kindness meditation.
The idea resonated with something deep inside of me. The first, totally instantaneous thought for saying a Prayer of Care for myself was “openness”. Openness that includes being open to the moment, the sensations, thoughts and experiences of Now. To just be.
When Tara offered the opportunity to send out at Prayer of Care to the world, the words that came to mind were gentleness and kindness. Not very original, but genuine. I started getting caught up in the “words” themselves, and had to struggle a bit to let it go. Sometimes words are not complete in expressing the feeling, but they’re what we’ve got!
In the bigger picture, and taking the definition of the words at face value, I really liked the idea of a Prayer of Care.
Care: mend, repair, cherish, treasure, assist, help, look after, protect….
Prayer: appeal, request, adjuration…
Something about using the words ‘prayer’ and ‘care’ together clicked. Care. Caring. Isn’t that something we “should” always do and hold dear to our hearts? If we don’t care, what’s left?
So, I sent my Prayer for Care to myself and out into the world.
April 12, 2012
I practice this meditation every night before going to bed. Lately I am thinking about trying to do it every morning too. I love that it begins with acknowledging our self, and requires us to put those who cause us sorrow, pain, frustration in a different light: remembering they deserve blessings too….
The meditation is done 4 times with only the name of the person changing each time. It can be very powerful.
The order of the meditation is:
• a respected, beloved person – such as a spiritual teacher;
• a dearly beloved – which could be a close family member or friend;
• a neutral person – somebody you know, but have no special feelings towards, e.g.: a person who serves you in a shop;
• a difficult/hostile person – someone you are currently having difficulty with.
(you could even end by saying the Metta meditation “For all sentient beings”….)
A simple version would be to start with yourself and say:
” May I be happy, may I be joyful, may I be at peace.”
Then replace “I ” with the name of someone you respect….
Continue on with the name of a person you love, a “neutral person, and the name of someone you struggle with.
There are several variations of this meditation:
May I be free from inner and outer harm and danger. May I be safe and protected.
May I be free of mental suffering or distress.
May I be happy.
May I be free of physical pain and suffering.
May I be healthy and strong.
May I be able to live in this world happily,
peacefully, joyfully, with ease.
Or another still, the one on the prayer flag shown at the beginning of the post .
What is Metta meditation and why do it? from Steven Smith:
“Loving-kindness, or metta, as it in called in the Pali language, is unconditional, inclusive love, a love with wisdom. It has no conditions; it does not depend on whether one “deserves” it or not; it is not restricted to friends and family; it extends out from personal categories to include all living beings. There are no expectations of anything in return. This is the ideal, pure love, which everyone has in potential. We begin with loving ourselves, for unless we have a measure of this unconditional love and acceptance for ourselves, it is difficult to extend it to others. Then we include others who are special to us, and, ultimately, all living things. Gradually, both the visualization and the meditation phrases blend into the actual experience, the feeling of loving kindness.
This is a meditation of care, concern, tenderness, loving kindness, friendship — a feeling of warmth for oneself and others. The practice is the softening of the mind and heart, an opening to deeper and deeper levels of the feeling of kindness, of pure love. Loving kindness is without any desire to possess another. It is not a sentimental feeling of goodwill, not an obligation, but comes from a selfless place. It does not depend on relationships, on how the other person feels about us. The process is first one of softening, breaking down barriers that we feel inwardly toward ourselves, and then those that we feel toward others” http://www.contemplativemind.org/practices/subnav/kindness.htm
As Steven says, it is all about the “ideal, pure love”, which everyone has in potential. If we are working to live a life to the fullest of our potential, we have to include the practice of Metta. For ourselves and all sentient beings.