Unconventional Metta Practice

Spiritual life is something I have to live in the midst of my life. Sometimes, I suffer from the delusion that if I only have time I could dedicate more time to spiritual practices. I think intentional time set for prayer and meditation is very important, but so is incorporating spiritual practices outside of that intentional time.

I wanted to write a blog post about metta meditation practice, and thought it might be helpful to share my experiences with some more unconventional times and places, where I practice metta. Metta is Pali word is roughly translated as loving-kindess. There are different ways to do metta meditation practice, but here’s one way that’s part of my practice. There are numerous phrases one can use to wish oneself and others metta or loving-kindess, but my teachers have always told me to begin with myself. A simple phrase I use are: “may I be happy, may I be healthy and may I be free from suffering.” I am sure you’ve heard other versions, so use whatever phrase that comes easily to you. I first start with myself, someone I know in passing, someone I am close to, someone that’s I have difficulty with, then I often return to wishing myself metta before I move onto people in my neighborhood, then all beings near by, and then all sentient beings everywhere.

Most teachers tell you not to do metta for someone you are romantically involved with, but teachers like Judith Simmer-Brown from the Shambhalah Buddhist tradition have encouraged such practice. I was at a lecture she gave at Duke years ago, and she encouraged folks to do metta to loved ones. Traditionally, metta for those you are romantically involved have been discouraged, because there can be strong feelings of attachment and mixed emotions, but my own experience has been that it has often been helpful to do metta for my significant other.

Some of the more unconventional areas I like to practice metta meditation is when I drive, especially if I am stuck in rush hour traffic or on the highway due to an accident. I find this practice very grounding and helps me not to jump to road rage, and extend compassion to other drivers and even other living beings as I travel.

I also have begun to pratice metta around grief and loss, even extending it to the soul/life force of a departed person, and then usually some metta for friends and family of the deceased. As I said before, I find it helpful to return to practicing metta to myself and returning to it if I find my heart hardening or just hitting a wall, which can include drowsiness, tension, or other forms. Like all meditation practice, root yourself in your breath and body as you repeat these phrases. There’s no hard rules on how long you have to dwell on each person, but I typically like to spend some significant time with each person/subject I am wishing metta too. I typically like to do 20 minutes of metta meditation, but sometimes do shorter or longer practice depending on the occasion. Sometimes an hour long metta practice is needed on the highway, so I don’t loose my shit. 🙂 I also like to practice metta while my daughter naps, and extend loving-kindess to her. I used to practice metta meditation when she was a baby while I was holding her, which is a wonderful practice since you can feel your child breath and stomach rise and fall against your own rising and falling of your breath.

Meditation Poem Series: #77

I am definitely running out of steam, but grateful for the practice of sitting. I sat today in the morning. I feel like I am coming out of a minor depressive period. Grateful I am more aware than I used to be, and caring for myself with more patience and love. I’ve also been practicing metta when I drive, starting with loving-kindess for myself and the other drivers around me. 🙂

Meditation Poem #77
deep compassions rises
out of my heart
love for all beings

Meditation Poem Series: #60

It’s always a challenge to post anything while I have my daughter for a full weekend. My heart is always over filled with gratitude when I get to spend time with her. I did metta meditation as she napped in car.

Meditaion Poem #60
may loving kindess
spread everywhere
to all living
sentient beings

Meditation Poem Series: #46

This is a day late, yesterday was a full day. My daughter and I were visiting up in Falls Church, and woke up to home made pancakes. We went to an Anglican church, then lunch…drive home.

It might be slightly cheating, but I did metta meditation while I drove and while my daughter napped in the car. I started with myself, then her, other people on the road, and then people as they popped up into my heart and mind. If you don’t know what metta (loving-kindess meditaion) is, I’d be happy to go more in depth either through a post or a reply to a comment.

Meditation Poem #46
may you all be happy,
healthy,and free
from suffering

Meditation Poem Series: #33

Today was a full day. I was not able to post on the day itself, but I did meditate on my drive back to VA from NC, while my daughter napped. I did metta meditation, or loving-kindess meditation. I wished “May I be happy, May I be healthy, May I be free,” and then expanded that metta to my daughter, and then others on the road.

Happy Christmas to all. It was my daughter’s first Christmas with my parents, and it was wonderful to have my brother and his wife visiting from Seattle.

Meditation Poem #33
loving kindness flows from my heart
the universe embraces me

Meditation Poem Series: #23

I did 15 minutes of metta meditation while waiting for my car to be serviced at a car dealership. It was definitely hard to focus, but I tried to return to my breath and phrases. Metta (loving-kindness) always starts with myself and then expands out to hopefully all living beings: “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be free from suffering. May you be at peace.” I use those phrases, because they work for me. Sometimes I just use the first three, because for some reason my mind goes blank on the 4th phrase. Much metta to all of you.

Meditation Poem #23
May I be grounded in love
May we be free

Merry Cristmas

Merry Christmas Eve!

This post is a departure from my regular content, but I just wanted to thank all the people reading my posts, following and commenting.  I am so grateful to be part of this blogging community, and to find renewed motivation to keep writing and create visual art. 

오뎅국 (Odeng-guk)

I am blessed to visit my parents in NC. My mother made me 오뎅국 (Odeng-guk: fishcake soup) for breakfast this morning.  My comfort food of choice is homemade home cooked Korean food, and also good Southern cookin’.

My daughter and I at a Christmas party

I won’t be posting on Christmas Day, but I wanted to wish happy advent season and Christmas for those in the Christian tradition and happy holidays to all.  

My daughter is away with her momma visiting their family in FL, but I am blessed to be surrounded by my family and friends as we get through first year of major holidays coparenting.  

Thanks again to all the readers and writers who share their thoughts, art, and experiences. May you be held in the Light of a loving Higher Power. To my Buddhist friends, much metta and peace. May you be healthy, happy, and free from suffering.