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Loving Kindness


I attended my first retreat with Pachamama this past November and did my second retreat over the Winter Solstice in December at Mt Shasta.  The impact of these retreats have been profound and I still feel like I am integrating the insights gained while on these retreats.  

I was brought up in the Catholic Church and attended Catholic schools all the way through high school.  Church was a huge part of my upbringing and the shaping of the person I evolved into becoming.  There is no question that certain values like service, integrity and conviction can be traced back to the experiences I had connected to the Catholic Church.  However, deep personal challenges connected with and to the Church evolved as I grew up and by the time I became a young adult I was conflicted in my relationship with the Church.  

Then, in my young 20s, my parents died in a tragic accident.  Their death earmarked my final separation from the Church and it has taken me years to unearth and uncouple my relationship with the Church and my spirituality.  Connecting with Pachamama and the retreats I have attended created a new opening for me to reconnect with my own spirituality and relationship with the Universe (aka Higher Power or God).  Seemingly out of nowhere, after the Winter Solstice retreat this past December, a meditation I had learned years ago popped into my thoughts while I was doing my morning meditation.  Loving Kindness Meditation, or Metta Practice, comes from the Buddhist tradition and it is a meditation with the primary purpose of receiving and giving loving kindness to everyone (yes, everyone.  even the people we struggle with the most).  


Here it is, if you are not familiar with it, maybe give it a go and just notice what comes up inside of you when you give yourself a few moments to give yourself some loving kindness and also,  see what happens when you offer up loving kindness to the world around you--


Metta Meditation  

By One Mind Dharma


 Find a comfortable position in which to sit for this period. As you allow your eyes to gently close, tune into the body and make any minor adjustments. It can be helpful to remember our intentions of both ease and awareness. Sit in a way that feels comfortable but alert. 


We’ll start with a few minutes of concentration practice, just to help our minds settle and arrive in our present time experience. 

As you allow the body to resume to natural breathing, see where in the body you can feel the breath. It may be in the stomach or abdomen, where you can feel the rising and falling as the body breathes. It might be in the chest, where you may notice the expansion and contraction as the body inhales and exhales. Perhaps it’s at the nostrils, where you can feel a slight tickle as the air comes in, and the subtle warmth as the body exhales. 


You can pick one spot to stick with for this meditation practice. As you feel the body breathing, try to stay with the breath all the way through. Stick with it from the beginning of the inhale all the way through the end of the exhale. 


(Allow for some silence here for as long as you see fit) 


You may have noticed the mind wandering. When the mind wanders, it really offers us an opportunity to cultivate mindfulness and concentration. Each time we notice the mind wandering, we’re strengthening our ability to recognize our experience. Each time we bring the mind back to the breath, we’re strengthening our ability to focus on an object. Treat is as an opportunity rather than a problem, and return to the breath.


 (Allow for some silence here for as long as you see fit) 


You can begin the practice by bringing to mind yourself as you sit here right now. Try to connect with your own deepest intentions for happiness, ease, and safety. You don’t need to dive into stories of what will make you happy, but connect with that natural desire you have. 


You can cultivate this intention to open the heart to your own wellbeing by silently offering yourself some phrases of metta. In your head, slowly offer yourself the phrases: 

“May I be happy.” 

“May I be healthy.” 

“May I be safe.” 

“May I be at ease.” 


You can offer these phrases silently in your head, saying them slowly enough that you can connect with their meaning and the intention behind them. 


(Allow for some silence here for as long as you see fit) 


You can now bring to mind a good friend. This may be a loved one, a friend, a teacher or mentor, or maybe a pet. 


You can connect with your natural desire to see this person happy and at ease. Just like you, this person wants to be happy, to feel safe, and to be healthy. 


In an effort to cultivate this intention of kindness, you can offer this person a few phrases of metta:

 “May you be happy.” 

“May you be healthy.” 

“May you be safe.” 

“May you be at ease.” 


(Allow for some silence here for as long as you see fit) 


You can let this person go from your mind and bring to mind a neutral person. This is someone you see, maybe regularly, but don’t know very well. It may be somebody who works somewhere you go a lot, a coworker, or maybe a neighbor. 


Although you don’t know this person well, you can recognize that this person wants to be happy as well. You don’t need to know what their happiness looks like necessarily. Again, offer this person the phrases of loving-kindness, connecting with the intention to care about their wellbeing. 


“May you be happy.” 

“May you be healthy.” 

“May you be safe.” 

“May you be at ease.” 


(Allow for some silence here for as long as you see fit) 


And, as you let this neutral person go, you can bring to mind somebody who you find difficult. You may not want to pick the most difficult person in your life, instead choosing someone who is minorly difficult. Maybe it’s someone you find yourself agitated with or annoyed by. 


You can offer the phrases, recognizing that this is connecting with our intention to care for this person. Although we may not mean it whole-heartedly every time we offer a phrase, we can make an effort with the phrases. 

“May you be happy.” 

“May you be healthy.” 

“May you be safe.” 

“May you be at ease.”


 (Allow for some silence here for as long as you see fit)


Giovanna White

🌺

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