First, I want to say that aside from some changes here and there, I posted a version of this post in December of 2013. After re-reading it, I find it as relevant now, as it was then, and it speaks to recent thoughts and feelings that I’ve been experiencing.
The past couple of weeks have been filled with highs and lows. The high was the birth of my 7th (Yes, you read it right.) g’child, a perfectly beautiful boy. I came to California to assist my daughter, son-in-law, and 3 year old g’son, in their preparation for the arrival of a new member of the family. Given that they live in California and I, in Texas, I relish all the time that I can spend with them. Unfortunately, fibromyalgia goes wherever I go, and as a result, I am unable to do all that I would like and am expected to do. As a result, feelings of inadequacy and guilt arise and I feel as though I’ve disappointed my daughter and fallen short of the self-imposed g’Mom code of behavior. The ‘low’ that I referred to occurred before I left Texas when, cutting to the chase, I crashed my car into a neighbor’s mailbox. I killed the mailbox, but the car survived, albeit with more damage than I believed. So, it comes as no surprise that I am not experiencing an abundance of self-compassion and self-love.
I believe that everything happens for a reason and that I am being guided on my journey. I was searching for some other posts and I happened upon the enclosed post. As it happened, it was exactly what I needed at the time. I’d written the post over seven months ago, during another period of self-doubt, anxiety and less than ‘positive thinking.’ As I read it, I realized that though I actively try to treat others with love and compassion (and believe me, it is a constant struggle), I often fail to afford myself, the same treatment. Without, spoiling a point in the post for you, let me say that one of Buddha’s quotes, says it best. He said,
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”
I’d forgotten that fact and God and/or the universe sent a reminder to me. LKW
The Pali word Metta means literally – ‘friendliness’, also love without a desire to possess but with a desire to help, to sacrifice self-interest for the welfare and well-being of humanity. This love is without any selection or exclusion. If you select a few good friends and exclude unpleasant persons, then you have not got a good grasp of this Metta. Love is not merely brotherly feeling but a principle for us to practise. It is not merely benevolent thought but performing charitable deeds, active ministry for the good of one and all. A subject – not to be talked about but to be – to put it in your being – to suffuse it within ourselves. It is, then, a dynamic suffusing of every living being, excluding none whatsoever, with dynamic. creative thoughts of loving-kindness. If the thoughts are intense enough, right actions follow automatically. ~ Venerable Ashin Thittila
Today has been one of those days. I think that most of you have an idea of what I mean. In this instance, it began with me making a stupid mistake and from there things went downhill swiftly. It’s one of those days when self-doubt overtakes reason and the negative self-talk and thinking creeps in like a thief in the night. The thing is that I know that there are no benefits to negative thinking, but it is a powerful emotional state, and worthy foe. It strikes when our defenses are weakened and fear and self-deception waltz on in. It has the power to transform the most inconsequential and innocuous mistake or thought into a raging stream of inner turmoil and tumult. Like an out of control boat astride the angry waters of a rapid, we lose our bearings and all reason is tossed out the window.
It was amidst such thoughts when I found myself desperate to regain control of my emotions, and out of the blue, the concept of “metta” or “lovingkindness” came to mind. I adore Pema Chödrön, an American Tibetan Buddhist nun and proponent of the theory of lovingkindness. Specifically, I thought of this article, “Buddhist Metta,” that I’d read a while back. (The opening quote of this post is from this article.) The term is a Buddhist concept, and I am not a Buddhist. Nevertheless, in my mind, the concept is one that transcends one’s spiritual background or practice. It is a universal concept that, if practiced by most of us, would definitely add much needed peace and compassion to this world.
Anyway, my thoughts were peaked in particular because of the common notion that “Metta” or “lovingkindness” is intended to be directed towards others. Of course that is true. Yet, in reality,
“love for self comes first. It is not a selfish love, but love for self- pure love – comes first. When we meditate on love, we meditate on love of self first…(May I be free from harm). By having pure love, Metta, as we defined it, for self; selfish tendencies, hatred, anger will be diminished, [and] unless we ourselves possess Metta within, we cannot share, we cannot radiate, we cannot send this Metta to others.
Basically, we cannot share what we don’t have, and as such, the first stanza of most Metta meditations is a meditation on self-love.
I am in the habit of writing notable quotes, comments, poems, prayers, etc., in my faithful journal. Some time ago, I’d written the following meditation because it touched me deeply. This particular meditation is known as the “Metta Meditation for Peace.” It is in my ‘tool chest’ to be used when I am overly stressed, sad, overwhelmed, anxious, or other than peaceful or relaxed. Sitting with the intention to be still and quiet, while meditating on the words, quells the distress and dis-ease. The words serve to bring me back to myself, away from my thinking mind, and to the level of my heart. Just as it has in the past, the words had the same effect today. The negative thoughts and thinking dissipated to be replaced by feelings of calm, love and compassion toward myself. It is just what the doctor ordered, and exactly what I needed.
The poem is as follows:
Metta Meditation For Peace
May I be safe.
May I be happy.
May I be healthy.
May I know peace.
May the person for whom compassion comes easy for me be safe.
May the person for whom compassion comes easy for me be happy.
May the person for whom compassion comes easy for me be healthy,
May the person for whom compassion comes easy for me know peace.
May the strangers in my life be safe.
May the strangers in my life be happy.
May the strangers in my life be healthy.
May the strangers in my life know peace.
May my enemy be safe.
May my enemy be happy.
May my enemy be healthy.
May my enemy know peace.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be healthy.
May all beings know peace.
One day, you may find yourself in a situation where you must overcome negative or unpleasant emotions. Perhaps, this meditation may help you too. If so, I’d love to hear how it affected you. Please share your thoughts and feelings in the comments.