What do you do when you can’t “do” anything? When it’s out of your control? When someone close to you whom you love is suffering? When something terrible is happening to others far away and you’ve already sent a donation?
I do the Loving Kindness Meditation, a Buddhist offering of kind wishes. I first started when I was a CEO having troubles in my business and was worrying about my staff. It’s a profound practice for many of us because you start with yourself. Buddhists from the East believe that it’s easiest to stir up positive feelings for yourself and then transfer those feelings to others. They were astounded coming to the West and discovering that we suffer from so much low self regard and even self hatred. For me, it was very hard because I had been raised Catholic and taught by my former priest father to always put myself last. I cried every day I did it for the first 6 months. It felt so wrong—and right—to begin with me.
You can do it anytime and anywhere. Eyes open or closed, sitting, standing, walking, lying down. The point is to find 4 or 5 phrases that represent what you most wish for yourself and others. Below are mine; you find the ones that are just right for you. Think to yourself: what do I wish most for myself and for those I love? It’s a wonderful thing to do when you are having difficulties with someone, are holding a grudge or just don’t like.
You begin with yourself:
May I be peaceful,
May I be happy,
May I be safe and protected,
May I be free from suffering,
May I be filled with loving kindness.
Then bring someone close to you to mind and say the same to them:
May ____ be peaceful,
May ____ be happy,
May ____ be safe and protected,
May ____ be free from suffering,
May ____ be filled with loving kindness.
Keep on going until you have included everyone you want to, moving from those close to you and ending with:
May all beings be peaceful,
May all beings be happy,
May all beings be safe and protected,
May all beings be free from suffering,
May all beings be filled with loving kindness.