If you want the world to be happy: practice compassion. If you want to be happy: practice compassion.
~ Dalai Lama
I particularly love this time of year, the silent yet stirring segue of the final week of 2015 into the fresh new pages of 2016. As I pondered what I would say here today to open this new year, I found the answer when I prepared to do my morning mindful meditation. Its theme, which resonates deeply in my wishful heart, was: May all beings be well and happy.
This metta-meditation, a very old Buddha technique to cultivate compassion, with regular practice can recondition our minds and open our hearts to both ourselves and others. Metta-meditation tells us we must not decide who deserves our compassion and who does not, but rather that compassion is something all beings deserve, even those responsible for horrendous crimes against humanity.
The guided meditation method to wish happiness and wellness for all beings is to first sit comfortably and, if helpful, close your eyes. First, see yourself in your mind, and mindfully say:
• May I be well and happy. Repeat.
• May I have no fears or sorrows. Repeat.
• May I be healthy and free from illness. Repeat.
• May I live calmly and peacefully. Repeat.
Then repeat the same affirmations for all others in this list, adjusting it to apply to you; for example you may not have a child but someone else you’d like to include. These are examples:
May my parents be well and happy. Repeat.
May my parents have no fears or sorrows. Repeat.
May I be healthy and free from illness. Repeat.
May I live calmly and peacefully. Repeat.
Then repeat the meditation for each person on your list:
• Spouse or partner
• Teachers and mentor
• A neutral person with whom you share the simple bond of being a fellow human being
• A person you dislike, keeping in mind the truth that “he or she is just like you—with pains and frustrations, desires and hopes.”
• All humans in the world
• All living beings everywhere, from single cell organisms to the highest form of intelligence
Professor Muesse (see below) states that “medical studies have been conducted and support the claim that prayer has a tangible, empirical effect on the health of those prayed for.” And “whether or not you believe in the effects of this practice… consider the fact that relieving a little of the hostility of just one person—yourself—will make that world a little better for everyone.”
I have found over time this practice has brought a noticeable and welcomed softening to my heart.
Source: The Great Courses Series – Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation by Professor Mark W. Muesse, PhD, Rhodes College – Lecture #17