Radical Acceptance: Enhancing your Life with the Heart of the Buddha (pp 246-282)
Awakening the Heart of Lovingkindness
Ezra Bayda in Being Zen notes that Loving-Kindness creates openness which reduces our capacity to constantly judge. Christopher Germer in The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion notes that Loving Kindness meditation has four healing elements: intention, attention, emotion, and connection. “Boosting our core intention (May all beings be happy”) brings energy and meaning into our lives, focused attention calms the mind (“Return to the phrases again and again”), positive emotions (compassion, love, tenderness) make us happy and connection makes us feel more peaceful and secure (less alone, less afraid, with a sense of common humanity). (p. 162) Daniel Siegal in The Mindful Brain has done research that shows when we meditate in private, we are actually improving our capacity for connected relationships in the real world.
The Practice of Loving-Kindness or Metta Practice is simple to understand. It is often challenging to practice because as we give Loving Kindness to those whom we harbor ill-will, strong aversions may arise.
To prepare for a Loving Kindness meditation, first relax the mind through a concentration practice of observing the sensation of the breath on the nostrils while breathing in and breathing out.
Then make an intention to come from your heart and to be as open as possible. Make an intention to offer joy and happiness to yourself and others by repeating a series of phrases. Start with yourself and then move to a loved one. Shift to neutral person (someone whom you have no positive or negative feelings about). Then shift to someone with whom you feel ill-will. Finally, gradually expand your loving-kindness to all beings. You can start with a small geographic area and expand to the universe.
There are many phrases that you can use or you can create a set of your own, all with the intention of wishing happiness and peacefulness to yourself and others.
Some examples with blanks to fill in for whom you are offering loving-kindness:
May ______ be happy and peaceful.
May ______ be safe and protected.
May ______ be filled with contentment.
May ______ be free from suffering.
May _____ be well, happy and peaceful.
May no harm come to _____.
May no problems come to _____.
May_____ always meet with success.
May _____have patience, courage, understanding and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems and failures in life.
May I be free from anger and ill will.
May I be free from fears and anxieties.
May I be free from suffering and pain.
May I be free from ignorance and desires.
May I be happy and peaceful.
May I be harmonious.
May I be liberated from greed, hatred, and delusion.
May I realize the deeper peace within.
May all beings be free from (repeat as above).
May I accept other beings as they are in this moment.
May I accept this moment just as it is.
May I accept myself as I am in this moment.
A Loving and Gentle Heart: The Radiance of Our True Nature
Remember as Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj defined love as the refusal to separate, to make distinctions, when we truly love we are doing just that. We are seeing the essence of others, the purity, the connectedness, the recognition of our shared human condition. “Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “When you say something like [I love you] … with your whole being, not just with your mouth or your intellect, it can transform the world.” Because we are interconnected, when we awaken love in ourselves and express it, our love changes the world around us. The hearts of those we touch are opened, and they in turn touch the hearts of others. Love is the basic nature, the goodness of all beings, waiting to manifest. Whether we offer love in silent prayer or aloud, we are helping love to flower in all beings everywhere. This expression of our deepest nature is the living power of lovingkindness—as the Buddha said, “it glows, it shines, it blazes forth.” Brach, Tara. Radical Acceptance (p. 272).
Living in Love
“As our trust in our basic goodness deepens, we are able to express our love and creativity more fully in the world. Rather than second-guessing ourselves, rather than being paralyzed by self-doubt, we can honor and respond to the promptings that arise from that goodness. In a similar way, when we trust the goodness in others, we become a mirror to help them trust themselves. The actions we take that arise out of lovingkindness are part of our path as a bodhisattva (“May all circumstances serve to awaken compassion.” And “May my life be of benefit to all beings.”) . When we are not consumed by blaming and turning on ourselves or others, we are free to cultivate our talents and gifts together, to contribute them to the world in service. We are free to love each other, and the whole of life, without holding back.” Brach, Tara. Radical Acceptance (p. 273).
- Reread this talk and reflect on it.
- Practice holding yourself with compassion. Practice compassion for others by just being with them. Not judging, not doing, just being.
- Meditate as usual in your daily practice with concentration and mindfulness.