Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I've talked to you before about the "metta" practice - or loving-kindness. Here's what Jeffrey Brantley has to say about it in Calming Your Anxious Mind:
With a kind and compassionate heart, all you attempt - including your practice of mindfulness - will flow more easily. Loving-kindness meditation uses repeated phrases, images, and feelings to evoke kindness and compassion. It is not exactly a mindfulness practice, yet the qualities it cultivates are crucial to the practice of mindfulness.

This meditation is not about sentimentality or about manufacturing "good" feelings. It is about connecting with and cultivating a capacity for kindness and friendliness that is already within you. At first it may feel mechanical or clumsy. It may arouse painful feelings like anger or grief. Don't let this disturb you. Keep up your practice and discover what happens next. When you have difficulty, hold yourself with kindness and compassion.
As you remember, I have recommended the phrases, "May I be happy; may I be well; may everything be well in my life," and then extending that to others. Here is the formula Brantley recommends:
May I be happy.
May I be healed and healthy.
May I be filled with peace and ease.
May I be safe.

Then, of course, as you extend the practice out from you, change the pronoun to "he", "she" or "they".

As Brantley says:
With some practice a steady sense of kindness can develop. You will be able to work with directing kindness toward all kinds of people - even difficult people.
This is a good time of year to work on loving-kindness practice. It is a wonderful antidote to stress and tension and an overall sense of busyness.

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