A Practice in Loving-Kindness
Offer compassion first to yourself.
Today, I want to share with you the Buddhist practice of Metta (loving-kindness). This is a mantra or offering that you first extend to yourself:
May I be safe.
May my true needs be fulfilled.
May I have food to eat, warm clothes, and a safe place to sleep.
May I be happy.
May I develop unconditional happiness.
May I taste the nectar of flow in all activity, expansion, and contraction.
May I be healthy.
May I be resilient in the face of challenge.
May I be aware of my own limits and respect them.
May I be peaceful.
May I be at ease, awake, and relaxed.
May I be a friend toward myself and towards all beings.
You may simplify the mantra to just the first phrases of each verse if you like. Once you have extended the loving kindness toward yourself, you may choose to then offer it to your loved ones, then acquaintances, then people you feel neutral towards, then "enemies", and finally to all of creation.
I hope this practice brings you comfort, and helps soften any parts of you that are needing extra care. Even if you only offer this practice towards yourself, remember you are doing a great service to the world. Often we are the ones we need to receive the compassion from the most.
What's in Your Gunny Sack?
It's time to throw your gunny sack in the fire.
Have you ever had an interaction with someone, where they get upset with you for a seemingly insignificant reason? It takes you off guard, and you can't really understand why they are so hot and bothered. Perhaps, eventually that person shares that there is really something else going on for them, and you both realize that the blow up was merely a trigger for what was happening underneath.
Let me introduce to you the "gunny sack." Each of us metaphorically has a gunny sack that we carry around with us. Anytime we feel an injustice and aren't able to forgive, we add it to our gunny sack. Anytime we choose others over ourselves, and we feel resentment because we aren't getting what we need, we add that to our gunny sack. Anytime we hold any sort of grudge or grievance we pack it into our gunny sack. If we don't pay attention, what was a light, clear sack becomes a heavy burden we carry around with us. The weight of others' responsibilities, being unappreciated, and not cared for makes us solemn, detached, and angry. Most of the time we don't say anything, and maybe we even try to pretend it isn't there because it feels so difficult to change. But every once in a while, everything that we have really been feeling, that we have stuffed into our gunny sack (perhaps even from years ago), is knocked from our shoulders and spills out onto those around us, those we care about. It becomes like a oil spill contaminating our environment and covering us all in slimy, goopy, sticky mess. So what do we do about it?
First of all, remember that we are all human. Please be kind and gentle with yourself that you have been carrying this around. It hasn't been easy, and most of us have not been taught how to work with these feelings and situations in ways that honor ourselves AND others. If you are an innocent bystander in the "spilled gunny sack", please have compassion (for both you and the person who is upset). Know that no matter what is expressed, it really has nothing to do with you.
Second, take a moment to tune into what you are feeling. There may be a variety of things going on within you. Give space to all of it. There is room. As uncomfortable as it may seem at first, these feelings will not kill you... that is the illusion of the "heavier emotions" (especially if you have been carrying them for a while). Giving these feelings space is what will bring you relief. Remember to breathe, and offer more and more room for the sensations to be exactly as they are. (Think of this as a practice in unconditional love.) If you feel overwhelmed by the sensations, go one bit at a time. Doing so will help relieve some of the pressure that has built up.
When you're ready, ask yourself what am I really needing here? What core value of mine is not being met? It may be space, solitude, quiet, safety, joy, freedom, appreciation, connection, purpose, etc. Please note, it will not something specific that you "need" someone else to do. If you find yourself going in that direction return to your feelings and give them room to be exactly as they are. Blaming or wanting someone else to change is a diversion from what is really going on. If you follow that blame, you will reinforce what is in your gunny sack and continue chasing your tail.
Once you have a sense of what you need, breathe it in. Feel that the air you are inhaling is saturated with love, joy, appreciation, safety, (whatever your need is). Visualize it going to the parts of you that have been shut off from receiving it. Hear yourself offering kind words filling this need. Be your own best friend. Know that all your needs are met once you allow it. Notice what begins to shift in you.
Eventually, things may shift within you enough that you are ready to empty the injustices in your gunny sack. You can imagine everything you have been carrying being recycled into your core value, or even throwing the sack into a fire so it all is released. You are free.
If you find yourself struggling with any part of this process, receiving energywork can help. It allows you to get out of your own way, and dissolve the gunk while you rest. Let me know if I can help you with this process.
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence
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