Sunday, April 3, 2011

Strong Medicine For the Heart

Just when I needed it most, right here in the mind, a thought borrowed from Jack Kornfield's talk during this year's Wisdom 2.0 conference:

"I have heard one is to practice metta  (loving kindness) 150 times before it finally sinks into the heart."

Sitting with much agitation, I heeded Jack's advice, and soon watched all thoughts drop in favor of:

May I be (on in breath)
happy (on out breath)
May I be (on in breath)
at peace (on out breath)
May I be (on in breath)
at ease (on out breath)
. . .

and towards the end, a few such 'metta' words aimed at the object of my agitation:

May you be
happy
May you be
at peace
May you be
at ease
. . .

followed by a few deep breaths, and yet another stroke, just for me:

May I be
happy
May I be
at peace
May I be
at ease

Body still, being breathed. Heart opening, and cooling. Mind purified, resting in the kind words.

I have found metta to be the strongest medicine for difficult emotions. How about you? How do you use your practice to calm the heart?

7 comments:

  1. Although my sitting practice is shikantaza 'just sitting' and in activity I try to remember to let thoughts drop and just act, I do say a little 'prayer' along the lines of 'I wish blessings for everyone who has ever hurt me, everyone I resent, and everyone I fear. I love, forgive, and release them all.' It works for me.

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  2. Beautiful, David! Thank you for sharing. I love the idea of seeding the sitting in such a lovingly kind climate.

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  3. I typically stick with samatha meditation and I find the clarity developed with it will extinguish any emotions. I'm not too experienced with practicing metta, but maybe I should devote a section of my practice to it, I love the idea.

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  4. Thank you for visiting, Robin. I was very resistant to the idea of metta, the first time I was introduced to it by Jack Kornfield many years ago. Metta is one of those practices that needs to be given a chance. Simply replacing unwholesome thoughts with wholesome ones. Following the Buddha's advice . . . and retraining the mind.

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  5. I use understanding. Understanding that others are different, that they are free to act like I am free to act, that they do what they believe is good like I do, that they have fears like I do. That the only reason my heart is suffering is because of personal misconceptions.

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  6. Beautiful! I must say my mind understands this but only at surface level. Deep down emotions run amok, and so do some unwholesome thoughts that need to be tamed. I find metta to be most powerful practice, in addition of course to continued mindfulness, and also concentration practices. Being patient with the mind :)

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  7. Maybe I can rather suggest to let these emotions run fully? They last only because they are being repressed. The emotion is the fruit, let it be, when not repressed an emotion will empty itself naturally. Then you can look into yourself for the causes of this effect, likely based on beliefs and learned sense of values. Events are neutral. Judging and repressing the effect won't erradicate the cause. And until the cause is understood, the potentiality will remain.

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