When I signed up for Cyndi Lee’s session on Cultivating Lovingkindness, I figured that I was in for a nice little inspirational pep talk on being more loving and kind, and perhaps some tips on dealing with those people who get on my nerves which ~ let’s face it, I certainly could use. If all went well, maybe she’d throw in a good Dalai Lama quote for some blog material.
We started off with asana practice, a nice sequence to wind down after a full week. Then, she sprung it on us. We were gonna meditate.
Now, I have a confession to make; I am a closet non-meditater. I consider myself a serious yoga student and I’ve gone through a 200-hour Teacher Training program, so I KNOW it’s something I’m suppose to do. But I don’t, and this is somewhat of a shameful secret of mine. Trust me, it’s not from lack of supplies, that’s for sure. I’ve bought several books on “How to Start Meditating.” I have a cushion. I certainly have plenty of candles if I need a flame to stare at, and I even have a meditation shawl for those, oh, so chilly mornings in Austin, Texas.
Still, it’s not something I do. I’m not good at sitting still … ask my hairdresser. If I’m not ancy, I’m falling asleep. Prior meditation attempts have resulted in some pretty good head-nodding whiplash, not to mention that one embarrassing public snoring incident. So when she said we were going to meditate, let’s just say, I was not feeling the “loving-kindness.” But I was willing to give it go.
Cyndi offered up two meditation techniques. The first one was Mindfulness Meditation which she called Shamata Meditation. We focused on the breath, and she encouraged us to keep our eyes open in soft focus. (This is supposed to make it harder to sleep, I’m guessing.) Cyndi called this particular technique the “Tadasana of Meditation.” We practiced it for a short period, and I found it hard.
Then she introduced the group to Metta Meditation. In this practice, you begin by calling to mind someone you love unconditionally. With that person as your focal point, you recite these four lines (silently or aloud):
~ May you be safe.
~ May you be healthy.
~ May you be happy.
~ May you live with ease.
You repeat the process with yourself as the focal point, then someone who irritates you as the focal point, next someone who is simply a neutral person in your life, and lastly for all beings. As we moved through this practice, I found myself more sharply focused, more able to stay in the game. Now THIS is something I can do. Interestingly, as I googled “metta meditation,” I came across this reference: “METTA is the word in the Pali Language that means Loving-Kindness” (Is that a collective “duh” that I hear?!)
One final point: Cyndi emphasized that to cultivate loving-kindness we must first start with ourselves. We limit our capacity to love others when we do not love ourselves fully. Perhaps it’s time for me to go of my meditation shame and cultivate some real lovingkindness.
May you ALL live with ease!
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