I love the practice of metta. Several years ago, when facing health concerns, one of the teachers who comes fairly regularly the retreats at our sangha, suggested that I use metta for me as my primary practice.
At first I struggled with this idea because, up to that point I had found it easier to provide loving kindness to everyone but myself. After that, each day when sitting, I committed to practicing metta for myself. Initially I had trouble as the phrases seemed to get silently caught in my throat, or I would quickly gloss over them, not really focusing on the intent. Little by little over the weeks, it became easier. the phrases… may I be safe, healthy, happy and at ease seemed to pop up whenever feelings of anxiety or fear arose.
When facing new situations, I would take a few seconds to center myself and focus on the phrases. Once that happened I could walk confidently into the situation knowing I would be okay. The intent had been set.
I continue to practice metta on a regular basis. Mostly I focus on my self, but the practice has seeped into the rest of my world. I work with people who are returning to work after illness or injury. My clients could be off work for as long as 3 years. They are generally frightened, worried, anxious and often still unwell. I negotiate their return to work plans with health care providers and employers.
When I first meet my clients, before entering the interview room, I focus on metta for me. This helps me stay focused on the client and their situation and not get swept up with my own feelings. When the interview is winding down, I silently send metta to my client… may you be safe, healthy, happy and at ease. When meeting with employers to set up the return to work details, again metta is a part of the process. At gatherings with friends and family, metta plays a roll. When shopping I practice metta when standing in line – I don’t know the cashiers or clerks but I wish them well.
For me, metta is a part of my daily life. It starts with my morning sit and spreads like a warm blanket on the rest of my world throughout the day. It has become something like Charlie Brown’s security blanket. What a gift this simple practice has become. I am truly blessed.