loving-kindness + week reflection

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“. . . and next, you will repeat the phrase again while thinking of someone you don’t like  — someone who may have caused you pain. ‘May you be happy. May you be well. May you be comfortable and at peace.'”

A few days ago, I settled into week six of the weekly meditation course I’ve been fortunate to be participating through at work. It can be a challenge to get away even for an hour in the middle of the day, but each week when I come out of meditation and make my way back to my desk, I am reminded why making the time is not only important but necessary. This week, however, I knew the real challenge would come during the practice.

I adore loving-kindness, or Metta, meditation. I also hate it because, well, it can be really difficult. As I listened to the class lead provide the instructions above, I could feel myself getting nervous. The last time I had practiced loving-kindness meditation was during the MBSR course I took earlier this year and it was a rough go. That whole think-of-someone-you-don’t-like-while-wishing-them-well thing had been applied to a pretty raw wound and I found myself sobbing in front of a room full of my classmates. (Fortunately, I was not the only person to which the practice had caused this reaction, so I was in good company.)

The impact of that meditation stayed with me for weeks and, as a result, I had never dipped my toe back in. I was afraid. But, again it had presented itself to me. And then the instructor said this, “Loving kindness doesn’t mean that at Thanksgiving you’ll go sit next to the family member you don’t get along with and everything will be fine. It doesn’t mean you need to reach out to a lost love and attempt to rekindle your relationship. Sometimes things — relationships — just don’t work out, but it’s not your problem. Loving-kindness meditation can help you release what you may be holding on to, the things you may still be making your problem. It’s about wishing someone — everyone —  well but also letting go.”

So I did it. And, when the time came to focus on someone I didn’t like, I imagined that person again in my mind and I repeated the phrase, over and over again. It was hard and, if I’m completely honest, there were a few times when I really wanted to take back the words I was repeating. I was skeptical. Did that person really deserve to be well and happy and free of suffering after all the suffering he had caused to others, including me? Despite my reluctance, I continued repeating the phrase until it was time to move on to the next. And as I expanded my intention to all living beings and wished us all happiness and peace and comfort, a vision constructed itself in my mind — the same vision I had months ago in the midst of tears the last time I had done this practice. This time, however, I didn’t immediately will my brain to shut it down; I was ready to let the vision play itself out and watched as that person who had caused me so much suffering flew away. Like, grew wings and disappeared into the sky.

What followed was the feeling of a weight being lifted from my heart. I physically felt something shift within myself. It didn’t work out. It’s not my problem. I have so much good in my life. Let it go. And then, for good measure, I repeated the phrase again, “May we be happy. May we be well. May we be comfortable and at peace.” And this time, I really meant it.

“Every step you takes brings you closer.” ~Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It

week in review
 what I’m reading: Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It
celebrated our pup’s fifth birthday
continued 8-week mindfulness + meditation course at work
podcasts: two episodes of How I Built This (Teach for America + Kickstarter)
continued making progress on simplifying + decluttering
celebrated one of my favorite kiddo’s second birthday
made more trips to Goodwill
first snow of the year!
received our first NPR Wine Club shipment
continued wedding planning
turned our kitchen into a brewery, temporarily
discovered Costco at opening on a Sunday is not a place I ever want to be
continue meditation homework: random acts of kindness + gratitude letter + everyday gratitude
killed it on Blue Apron recipe
hosted monthly writing group (Denver Creates)
purchased This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
made a pledge not to buy any new books until I read what I have
phone dates with two of my favorite humans
contributed to coat drive at work
continued our fantasy football losing streak
met up with folks in town for GABF
much-needed hair appointment
drinks + catching up with one of my favorite people
finally gave in and sold my skis 😦
enjoyed a chill Friday night out + ice cream in a pumpkin patch
productive + rewarding workweek
finish wedding tradition blog post
celebrated six months with my love
wrote + posted table for one: a year later
wrote + posted we’re not doing that’ + wedding traditions and their origins — in haiku
wrote + posted boozy week in review

weekend happenings + intentions
enjoy a weekend relatively free of activities
finish Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It
start reading This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
catch up on blogging course
more wedding planning
visit friends in Colorado Springs
complete second lesson of blogging course
tackle a few more areas of decluttering
brewery + dinner with good friends
enjoy the fall colors via walks
read + write + relax

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