This week we are focusing on bringing the practice to our lives. When I was first introduced to Loving kindness, it had a powerful and profound effect on me. Of course, I loved my family and friends as we all do, to lesser or greater degrees. But it was the extension of that good will and kindness to the ‘neutral person’ whom I’d never paid any attention to before. And then, further, to folks in our Sangha, in our city, country, in the whole world and even extending to the earth itself, and all creatures. Then even out to the universe and all beings that might be beyond. I felt my heart stretching and I valued having those expansive, open feelings of good will toward all.
Here are some of the effects in my life as a result of metta practice:
1.When I sent metta to my ‘difficult person,’ she suddenly seemed happier, or healthier … things definitely improved. Maybe my attitude was different, so she changed. I don’t understand how it works, but I’m very happy about it.
2. I sent metta to another difficult person with the intention of having an amicable relationship, and metta practice has been very helpful in this regard. I do wish her good will.
3. When feeling down about myself and sending metta to myself, I was suddenly able to see the value of my own contributions, and the unskillfulness of attaching worth exclusively to doing. (See my blog Worthless Wanda).
4. When I’ve felt worry about my adult children or my grandchildren, and there’s no action to take on my part, I have sent metta to them. The effect of this is that I feel that I’ve “done all I can do.” I can relax and let go. Since worry never helps yourself or the other person, this is a good thing.
What I learned from our Community Dharma Leader, Jeanne Corrigal, is that while it may be helpful to have loving or warm feelings towards the person you are sending metta to, it is not necessary. Here’s the amazing thing: the phrases themselves, the practice, will do the work. The intention of opening to this practice is enough to open us up, in time. This was a huge revelation to me, and very freeing because we don’t always feel kind or loving. This means that it will work no matter what.
Send metta. It’s a wireless connection that benefits yourself and others.