Jamie Street

Metta or how to befriend the good, the bad and the ugly

Metta is a Pali word for loving kindness , friendliness, good will. Metta practice is coming from the Buddhist tradition and it’s teaching us how how to cultivate “loving kindness “ for ourselves and others.

The Buddha first taught the Metta meditation as an antidote for anger and fear. 

By the legend, three angry ghosts wanted to scare a group of monks out of their forest. The monks came to the Buddha and asked him to choose another forest for them to practice in.  The Buddha answered “l am going to send you back to the same forest, but I’ll provide you with the only protection you will need.”  The Buddha sat and taught the monks Metta meditation.  

When the monks later returned to the forest and practiced Metta, the three ghosts become so touched by the loving energy in the forest they decided to serve the monks, and provided them everything that they need.

According to Buddhism, most of our fears and suffering comes from a self inflicted sense of separation. We long to love ourselves and others deeply, to feel more connected.  Yet often we contract, fear intimacy, and separate ourselves from the world.

We put up walls.

Anything that threatens our fragile walls raises our anxieties and fears.  We numb ourselves with unhealthy toxins, and people and practices just to avoid the pain that triggers us.  The end result of these actions is our own dehumanisation.  We become distant from ourselves, from our friends and families, from other sentient beings. We shut down our inner life, and instead cling to the cage that we created for ourselves. The pain that we initially tried hard to escape becomes our life long companion.

If we stop fragmenting our lives, we can live with integrity and harmony.  Practicing Metta meditation cultivates our ability to lovingly embrace ourselves, and others.  By cultivating loving kindness and compassion we can accept our experience in peace. When we feel connected our heart is filled with love. Our mind becomes still in all surroundings.  We are happy.

Metta is teaching us how to transform conditional love to unconditional.

As a humans we have this need to be happy. If you observe little kids they are so innocent and happy. They can get angry, jealous or sad but they have ability to change the state they are in, in a matter of seconds. Kids like when people around them are happy and smiling. Unfortunately, later in life we tend to hold grudges for many years, getting stuck to our stories for life time, allowing anger, jealousy, guilts and shame to control our lives and our world. Our heart slowly contracts under our own expectations regards the world and ourselves.

For me, becoming a single parent illuminated many of my patterns and shadows that were rising up when I was pushed out of my comfort zone while trying to figure it all out once when my daughter was born.

While I was giving her first bath and expected that it will looked like Johnson’n’ Johnson commercial and my camera was ready to capture that historical moment in our life, suddenly everything went down hill. She peed on me, bubbles and water were everywhere on the floor, she started to cry and camera was knocked off by me trying not to slip on the wet floor with the new born in my arms. Johnson’n’johnson were lying to me. 

And I started to guilt tripping, questioning my abilities to be a mother, and fear that I’ll fail and that Im not skilful or good enough. 

That pattern kept repeating it self very often; while getting opinions from neighbours or unknown people how I should breast feed her, carrie her, raise her. On judging my life choices. Putting expectations on how much she needs to weight, how long her hair should be, how much she needs to sleep or how I should look… its an endless list and if you are parent probably you know what Im talking about. We are getting constantly bombarded by the images what our life should be thought magazines, social media, movies, news papers…… all of that, spiced up with my own expectations for myself and postnatal depression made me feel insecure and like a failure. I was crying every day thought first 6 months of her life. Until one day I realise she is making funny sounds just to make me laugh and see me smile. That moment deeply touched me and melt my heart.

She needed me to be happy, to smile, for her and for myself.

Metta meditation helped me tremendously on my path to self healing. By repeating those phrases I allowed myself just to be and to accept whatever is arising. In a way I was giving myself permission to love and befriend myself again. Every time when I would found myself in a chaos I’ll tell my self: “its ok. You are a mess and I love you”, “your house is a mess and your shirt is covered with baby puke and I love you”

Slowly, slowly my perception of myself and the world changed. I keep reminding myself that we are all suffering and instead of getting angry on people or situation I’m trying to practice Metta and compassion.

I noticed that when I’m angry, jealous or in fear that my vibration is low, I feel tired and weak and I’m trying to get out of this states just by simply repeating the phrases.

Being in a states of low vibration, I feel , its leaving wrinkles in my heart that one cant fix with botox or any anti agin treatment. Only antidote to those wrinkles is to find inner peace and happiness, then the face will also glow from within. 

Like the airplane safety procedures is teaching us :” in case of the pressure drop in the cabin, put the oxygen mask to yourself first before helping others” we should befriend and love ourselves first, unconditionally. Only when the inner peace is there we can spread it to all sentient beings.

How to practice Metta

Metta is done by directing affirmative phrases towards 5 groups of sentient beings.

 For example, we can use traditional phrases like:

May I be happy. 

May I be safe. 

May I be healthy. 

And live at ease…

First, we intend the phrases for ourselves.  Without compassion for ourselves, we cannot spread love to others.

Second, we direct our Metta affirmations at a “benefactor.”  Someone who was good to us, and we feel gratitude and respect towards. 

Third, we direct our intension of loving kindness to someone “neutral.”  This is a person we do not have any specific attachments or judgements towards.  

Fourth, we extend our Metta mantra towards our “enemy.” Someone that we have difficulties with, and inspires anger within us.

Fifth, we conclude our Metta practice by cultivating love and kindness towards all the sentient beings on Earth.  A great wave of love and compassion towards everyone.

May you be happy and live at ease!

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