While channel surfing the other day I stumbled across ONE the mind, body, spirit channel (Starchoice 575). It was one channel that I hadn’t really fully explored because of course I’m hooked on HGTV and BOOK TV.
I stayed put for half an hour to watch a program on Metta Meditation. Meditation is one of those activities that is easy to do — easy in the sense that it’s free, portable, and doesn’t require any special equipment or dress. Unfortunately, it’s also easy not to do.
My own attempts at regular practice are laughable. There was a time a few years ago when I woke up earlier each day in order to ‘sit.’ For the beginner slowing down, staying put and silencing monkey mind is a huge challenge. The impulse to straighten a picture, plump a pillow, or get a glass of water is almost overwhelming. I had to learn to fight through those distractions. Experts often warn the benefits of insight and calm don’t kick in until about the twenty-minute mark.
The key components are silence and a willingness to sit through the discomfort of sitting still. Slowing one’s breathing, and staying mindful and open is a challenge. However, one shouldn’t get hung up on the ‘shoulds.’ Some people don special shawls, sit cross-legged with eyes closed, ring a bell and chant ‘ohm’ or some other such word. Those types of rituals are great if they signal the start of the meditative process and help a person get there quicker. Whatever works should be the only should.
Sylvia Boorstein, Buddhist teacher described Metta Meditation as practicing loving kindness and paying attention to the condition of the heart. Margot Sangster, a social worker also interviewed for the program, said we must set an intention to wish well and let whatever happens happen. Wish yourself well first and be mindful of the present moment. Each woman spoke about the implications for the world if each of us could begin looking at others and ourselves with loving kindness. They believe it’s the only way out of the chaos the world is experiencing. Boorstein talks about projecting those warm thoughts to the other drivers in traffic when she’s running late. None of us know the other drivers’ stories or their challenges. Imagine a world where we give everyone else the benefit of the doubt and see them with loving kindness.
I intend to begin using the process Boorstein outlined. Sit any way with eyes open or closed. She said to the group,
Breath by breath, here we are. May you feel protected and safe. May you feel contented and pleased. May your physical body support you with strength. May your life unfold smoothly and with ease.
Think of those you love that you have no trouble wishing well. Then, add others until finally you can wish any person and all creatures well.
Lord knows what most of the world is doing isn’t working, so Metta Meditation sounds great, from where I sit.