Metta Meditation For Peace.

Lotus

Lotus (Photo credit: shindoverse)

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

divider4

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.

postsiggie2

Finding Peace in Forgiveness.

Forgiveness Mandala by Wayne Stratz

Forgiveness Mandala by Wayne Stratz (Photo credit: Nutmeg Designs)

This post is longer than is usually the case, but given the subject matter, I am sure that you will understand. Thank you for taking the time to read and experience it.

My father passed away almost two weeks ago. When a parent dies, it seems that most children feel a sense of sadness, longing, grief and in some cases, regret for missed opportunities and all that will never be. However, those thoughts and feelings are often tampered by the gratitude and precious memories that you shared with this man, your father.

A couple of months ago, one of my oldest and dearest friends called to tell me that her father had passed. Upon hearing the news, tears flowed and I was overwhelmed by a sense of grief, sadness and gratitude. The grief was present for obvious reasons; the sadness because a special man was gone from this world; the gratitude, because as fate would have it, I became best friends with his daughter and through her, was able to see and feel all that the word “dad” entailed, and the importance of the role of a father-figure in one’s life. Nevertheless, when I learned of my father’s passing, I felt a sadness, as I would when told of anyone’s death, but more prominently, there was a visceral void.

I suppose that you can say that our relationship was complicated. You see, he turned his back on our family when I was only five years old. When I say that he turned his back, I mean that his leaving was so complete that it was as if he disappeared from the face of the earth, certainly from my world. In fact, he did for about 11 years. At the time he left, I was the oldest of three girls and my Mom was left to raise us by herself, with no contact or support from my father. As a young child, I didn’t have the tools necessary to comprehend my father’s actions, so for the most part, I was confused, and even guilty, thinking that his actions were my fault. As I grew older those feelings transformed into resentment and anger, feelings that failed to change even after he began making the occasional appearance in our lives. He came bearing gifts, but none that I wanted or needed.

The truth is that I didn’t know this man and I knew no more about him than the passing stranger. What I did know was that he wasn’t there to give us food, shelter, clothing or love. He wasn’t there when I had measles or chicken pox, to pick me up when I fell or to soothe my tears over some perceived devastation that all children endure. Complicating the matter is the immutable fact that he is the man who gave me life, and my rational and logical mind knows that were it not for him, I would not be writing this post.

As is expected, people continue to express his or her sympathy at my loss. I’ve noticed that people use the words “father,” and “dad” interchangeably, and when the word “dad” is chosen, I feel very uncomfortable.  I find it impossible to apply that word to our relationship. In fact, I feel wrong even trying to do so. My mind keeps returning to the same question: what is the difference between a “father” and a “dad?” Why have I always been unable to refer to this man as anything but my father? In fact, more often than not, I instinctively referred to him by his first name, John. Yet, this is a topic for another place and time.

In reality, I’ve been pulled between the angry, confused and sad child that my father deserted, and the older wiser me that realizes that his actions were about him, not me, and that the anger and resentment has harmed me much more than it hurt him. I don’t know how to feel about a man who is a virtual stranger to me, but is a primary cause of my presence in this world. The icing on the cake is that as one of his next of kin, I am the one who has to make post-death arrangements, as well as pay for them. My inner child is stumping and screaming that life is not fair.

Yet, as often happens with life, a sense of closure occurs in the most unexpected ways. In my case, I was standing in line at the pharmacy after having had an amazing experience with my yoga therapist, which I will write about in a later post. I was next in line and I casually noticed that someone had gotten in line behind me. It is a dapper elderly man whom I later learned was a young 82 years, and  a transplanted Californian who moved to Austin five years ago. He said, in a friendly and sincere voice, “How are you today?” The question moved me because so often these days, people don’t take the time to concern themselves with others. This man was different. I turned toward him as I answered and politely asked, “And how are you?” His response took me by surprise. He said, “I am better than great. I couldn’t possibly be better!” I suppose that his answer intrigued me because I can’t recall feeling that way in some time.

As we continued our conversation, I learned that he and his wife had grown children, with lives of their own. Five years ago, they decided that with their children gone and they had no reason to tie themselves to California. They decided to set out to discover a new place to live. Serendipity brought them to Austin, Texas and he is, by all accounts an amiable and happy man. For reasons that I didn’t understand at first, I felt an undeniable bond with this stranger, this man who I’d never laid eyes upon. Before long, it was my turn in line, so I started toward the counter. All of a sudden, I experienced one of those proverbial ‘light bulb’ moments, and in my heart, I knew both why I’d met this man and why he’d affected me so much.

I turned back to him with intense curiosity. Although I hadn’t realized it before, there were definite similarities between him and my father. He was the same height and build with a similar hair cut and the same quick smile for strangers. When I was a kid, this was the type of man who I’d always imagined my father to be. I believe that there is a reason for everyone that we meet and that they arrive at the exact moment when we most need them. Even in his passing, my heart yearned for a compassionate, loving and attentive father who loved and hugged me liberally. I longed for a father just like this man, and I believe that this man represented all that I did not have in a father, and that, if for only a short while, he was God’s blessing to me.

Unconsciously, I reached out to him, grabbed his hand, and thanked him for his kindness. For reasons that I still cannot explain, I felt compelled to explain to him that my estranged father had just died and that meeting him was the balm to my soul that I’d desperately needed. He expressed sympathy and thanked me for bestowing such an honor on him. He hugged me in a fatherly way. I turned back toward the counter, picked up my scripts, waved goodbye and continued on my way.

I was aisles away from the pharmacy picking up a few items when I heard someone call out to me. It was my new “friend.” He’d searched the store for me because he wanted to properly introduce himself and learn my name. He told me that “When he thought about our meeting, he wanted to know my name,” and believed that every experience was a gift to treasure. We exchanged introductions, shook hands and turned to go on our ways.

As I walked away, I felt a weight lifting from my shoulders and an overwhelming sense of peace filled that hollow in my heart. I experienced a letting go, and a sense of forgiveness that eluded me during my father’s life, but now was possible at his death. It is true, forgiveness is more for you than the other. I do not claim to have let go of years of anger, resentment, disappointment and longing in a matter of 15 minutes. Yet, I’ve begun the process and to me, that is profound. As I attend to my father’s post-death arrangements, I intend to extend him the peace and respect that I never received from him. Doing so, brings me peace. It seems to be coming together, as it should be.

Blessings, Lydia

.

Making Peace With 2010

Peace, Victory, Two Fingers - from the origina...Image by \!/_PeacePlusOne via Flickr

As I woke this morning and looked out the window, the puddle of water on the top of our hot tub is evidence that it rained at some point during the night. The rain explains the nagging headache that has bothered me for days, since my migraines are largely attuned to barometric pressure changes. I can only pray that it is now at its peak.


Nevertheless, a migraine is not first and foremost on my mind. No, it is the end of 2010 that is a mere two days away, and I, along with many others in this country, around the world even, are in a race. A race to choose our intentions for the new year to come.  The choice is not taken lightly. Some agonize, and ruminate over the decision to the extent that an outsider looking in would swear that a life or death decision is surely being made.  In reality, what happens year after year is that we look upon this time as another opportunity to get it right; a way to ring out the old and ring in the new, but the fact remains that as Jon Kabat Zinn says “wherever you go, there you are.” A new year is a new beginning of sorts, but  in many instances, our life pre-2011, still haunts us.  How then do we reconcile with 2010 so as not to carry our old issues into the new year. 

Of course, there is no one answer to our dilemma. In perusing the web,  I found an article on the Huffington Post by Dr. Cara Baker. http://goo.gl/OHWwO. In the article, Resolving What Really Matters: 7 Practices For A Fresh New Year, Dr. Baker recognizes our quandary:
The truth is this: We simply do not know where we will be one year from now, much less tomorrow. This being the case, what do you want to make of today so that you feel great about yourself? I’m not talking about adding stress or taking on a mad-dash attitude! The last thing either of us needs is one more thing for the to-do list. No, I’m thinking more about what you’d like to drop from your life that would improve your sense of gratitude. For example, what “accounts” do you need to close in order to live freely? How could you do so simply? Dare I say it: how could you lower the bar to what’s been unrealistic? . . . . What if we were to revise our standards, giving ourselves more slack? 
She goes on to offer 7 practices  that allow us to make peace with 2010 and to go into the new year, and the new decade, with a sense of peace and purpose, as well as an idea of what may be important to us. They are listed below.
  1. Recall the gratitude you have for what others have given. 
  2. Recall the personal challenges that have helped you grow. Find compassion for the simple expressions of good that have come your way.  Tell those who’ve assisted your unfolding.
  3. Recall moments of beauty. Beauty comes out of chaos. (Share the memory with someone you love. Ask them theirs.
  4. Recall the new people, places and things you discovered that touched you most. ( Write a thank-you notes in three sentences or less, and send them.
  5. Recall the dreams that have continued to stir your heart, pressing your spirit to express them while you still can. Ask someone you love about their current dream, and share your own.
  6. Recall the unexpected moments of encouragement you’ve found in nature, in the stillness, or in a glance or look from another living creature that have reminded you that connection lives, and that life is richest when appreciating the simple things.
  7. Recall one favorite moment from this year that touched you deeply.  Thank whomever needs thanking. 
These practices apply as the year, and a decade, come to an end. There is no question that for many of us, 2010 has been a year of change, upheaval and turmoil. (When we factor in the preceding 10 years, it is mind boggling to think of the change, both good and not so good, that we have encountered!) It is little wonder that one would have the “don’t let the door hit you in the back” mentality towards this year. Dr. Baker offers us a way to view the positive aspects of the year, instead of focusing on the negative.  By doing so, we close out 2010 acknowledging its many challenges, but also making peace with it by remembering the joys and blessings that came our way.  I encourage you to read the article for yourself here http://goo.gl/OHWwO

Happy New Year, Happy New Century. 


Blessings, Peace & Joy  to you and your family, Lydia

Enhanced by Zemanta

Quote Tuesday

Quotes. Made in notepadImage via Wikipedia
Between stimulus and response  there is a space. In that peace is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. ~Victor Frankl

The reason for “Quote Tuesday” is simple. I believe that quotes are less happenstance utterances and more words of wisdom condensed into short, concise morsels that are ideal for our non-stop, hurry up society.  With this in mind, I was delighted to read “How Inspirational Quotes Can Change Lives” on one of my favorite websites Wisdom A La Carte. http://j.mp/fQZ4LV. The article, written by Sook Fun Chen, opens: 
“Do not underestimate the power of inspirational quotes. Great quotes can not only change lives, but might change a nation as a whole, if everybody studies and listens to the wisdom of the wise men. Words have enormous power!” http://j.mp/eotGCp
For the entire article, please go here http://j.mp/eotGCp. I am not saying that reading one quote can change your entire life. It is my hope that through these quotes that I post, you might glean some words of wisdom that inspires you toward positive life changes, as you travel along your own spiritual path.

Blessings and a very happy new year, Lydia

Enhanced by Zemanta