FOR VALENTINE’S DAY - LOVING KINDNESS PRACTICE
Our format for the Thursday and Friday group meditations is choosing a theme for the evening. This Thursday and Friday, in keeping with our Valentine’s Day tradition, we will share the practice of loving kindness (metta). I will lead on Thursday and Sara will lead on Friday. After the third meditation, we will share how this teaching infuences our practice. Then the other members of the group will be invited to share whatever arises in their heart consciousness.
Metta has been a powerful and beneficial practice for our group.
And we form a sharing the merit circle at the end of our time together. It is a time to recognize our compassionate presence to each other, our family and friends, especially those in need, and to the earth.
On my refrigerator door is a Valentine’s Day card I received from a friend several years ago. With a lollipop attached, the card reads simply “Valentine’s Days Sucks.” Indeed, February 14 is a day when many, overwhelmed by the cultural expectations of romantic coupling, allow themselves to descend into states of self-pity and apathy. The idea of love that we encounter this time of year is extremely limited, I might even argue that it barely resembles love at all. The practice of Metta or Loving-Kindness mediation, fortunately, is not limited by these constraints and awakens us to the possibilities that showing Metta to ourselves is a gift to everyone we encounter.
As the Venerable Sujiva writes:
“The good symbol for Metta (loving kindness) is the mother cradling her baby to sleep. The baby cradled to sleep will be the result. I can still remember that it was a good feeling when I was cradled to sleep by my mother. There is also a lot of joy when one is unselfishly caring for a friend. Such is loving kindness and its results.”
Regardless of whether we choose to cultivate loving kindness toward ourselves, our loved ones, or our enemies, out intentions are expressed by four aspirations which sink into our awareness during our practice: 1) May I/you be free from enmity 2) May I/you be free from mental suffering 3) May I/you be free from physical suffering 4) May I/you take care of myself happily.
The possibilities of loving kindness emerge as we allow ourselves to recognize the fine boundary between the I and the You. When we are able to radiate loving kindness we sink deep into the recognition of ourselves in another and find there is little that distinguishes you and I from one another.