Monday, March 02, 2009

Anahata Metta Meditation

The Anahata Chakra is associated with the heart and it’s color is green. Normally I introduce a vigorous way of working with the chakra, recommending a form of dance that compliments and helps cleanse. However, this week I am beginning with a lovely meditation practice. If you do nothing else this week but this meditation, preferably in the morning (and again in the evening is recommended), you will have done more to help heal and cleanse the Anahata Chakra than if you were to do all of the other practices combined. The intention of the Metta Meditation is to increase compassion. The etymological meaning behind the word “compassion” looks like this: com = with + passion = suffering. The purpose of the meditation is to bring the meditator to a place of compassion, not just of sympathy but of true empathy. To feel with the person what they feel. The meditation begins with yourself—to give compassion and loving kindness to yourself. For many, this is actually the most uncomfortable part of this practice because we are not in the habit of being compassionate or loving towards ourselves. And yet, this is the first step in this meditation, recalling Jesus Christ’s words that we must love others as we love ourselves. And so the first part of the Metta Meditation is as follows:
May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.
This should be said sotto voce, just loud enough to be heard by the self. If you prefer to meditate in silence, you may do so. However, by speaking aloud the phrases you are drawing in a deeper awareness, incorporating the actions of speaking and hearing within the meditation practice. The meditation moves from the self to someone for whom you feel love, a family member or a dear friend. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests thinking of your mother but if your relationship with your mother is not the best, you may want to choose someone else. It is recommended, however, not to choose someone for whom you have sexual or erotic feelings. You would repeat the same phrases, this time thinking of this someone you love:

May my mother be happy. May my mother be well. May my mother be safe. May my mother be peaceful and at ease.

The meditation next moves to an associate. This can be a coworker you do not know very well, a person with whom you have no relationship but consider an acquaintance—your postal carrier, your dry cleaner, et al. Choose someone recognizable but not necessarily someone whose memory stirs much emotion.
May you be happy May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.
Now the meditation becomes challenging as you move your focus onto someone who has caused you pain or grief. It can be very difficult to do this meditation with sincerity if you choose someone who recently caused you pain. It is usually best to choose someone either emotionally or chronologically distant to begin with. If you were in a car accident caused by someone else last week, it is not suggested that you meditate on the person who caused the accident. However, if the accident was five years ago, you may want to choose that person. Politicians or celebrities are also a good place to start as you do not know them personally and can possibly tap into feeling some compassion for them in spite of the pain they have introduced into your life.
May you be happy May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.
Last but not least, you meditate on everyone in the world, embracing all beings in the meditation.
May all beings be happy May all beings be well. May all beings be safe. May all beings be peaceful and at ease.
Some teachers have you say “May all sentient beings” but I prefer to be more inclusive. There are variations on the Metta Meditation phrases and you may find the following equally beneficial:
May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be peaceful. May you live with ease.
When you have finished you may choose to begin again at the beginning or conclude the meditation practice. I cannot say strongly enough how lovely this meditation is and encourage everyone to incorporate it into your meditation practice. I am sure that your experience with this meditation will be as much a blessing for you as it has been for me.

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