Monday, February 27, 2012

The Most Skillful Order

Exhausted, sore, hooked on coconut water and Downton Abbey..oh, woe is me!

Not really; I am sleepy and sore, but I can go to bed soon, and sleep as long as I like tomorrow, as long as I get the laundry done and the house cleaned in the afternoon. I'm allowing myself the imported-from-quite-far-away coconut water because my aerial training schedule has...quintupled? Five work-outs a week rather than one; I need excessive amounts of potassium to help my muscles recover. You know it's a legit body craving when you throw on rainboots and a coat over your pj's and scurry down to the store five minutes before it closes for a carton. And Downton Abbey is amazing. So hooked.

Something else I'm really enjoying, especially in the midst of injuries in the family and prepping for short-notice visits necessitated by them, is my Month-Long Meditation practice! This week, I'm working with Lovingkindness meditation. The nicest thing about it is that for as long as I need, I can just send lovingkindness to myself. No guilt, no shoulds, no oughts. If I need lovingkindness, then I give it to myself. When I feel ok, I send it along to others in need, in an ever-widening circle from those who I care about, or who have been good to me, to neutral people, to strangers, to those who are difficult for me to be around. I don't have to beat myself up for having uncharitable thoughts, or for feeling frustrated with circumstances outside of my control. I can offer myself love and compassion, so that I feel capable of making the choices and performing the actions in line with the person I want to be, not the foot-dragging, whining person in my brain.

I can feel good about myself, even when I say or do things that aren't in line with who I want to be, because I can remember that I'm not just the unkind things I say, or do. I'm also the generous, kind, thoughtful things I say, or do. Everyone is entitled to being human, and making mistakes, and everyone is just trying to be happy. Meditation suggests that happiness is a skill we can cultivate, like anything else. It's obviously a skill worth cultivating!

Well, you can read my meditation challenge blog posts here, and you can read about the book they're based on, and the teacher who is behind the book, here.

If you'd like to try Lovingkindness meditation, and yes, yes, you should! Sit or lie down, get comfortable, and take a few minutes to just follow your breath.
I set a timer for twenty minutes, so I don't get it into my head that I've been lying there for an hour and a half when it's really only been seven minutes. When you're ready, say to yourself,

"May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease."

You can change these phrases up to be something that feels meaningful and inclusive for you. You may feel like, you don't deserve this, or that it's silly to wish these things upon yourself instead of working toward them, or selfish to not offer them to someone else. Calmly tell those voices to stuff it.

When you're feeling very good, and full of positive feelings, you can turn these blessings onto someone else, someone who you're quite fond of. Maybe someone who's been an inspiration to you, or whose company you really enjoy. You'll branch slowly out to those in special need, neutral people, and people you don't like so much. If you feel a sense of tightening or resistance, then you are suffering, and you need compassion, and you should go back to giving yourself Lovingkindness for a while. You are not a bad person for not yet being skillful at seeing how we are all connected, and wanting the best for others is the same as wanting the best for yourself. You are worthy of love, comfort, and compassion. If you make it this far, and you feel comfortable, then extend your lovingkindness to include all beings, past, present, and future.

Don't worry about feeling an emotion, or if you 'really mean it.' Just focus on these words the same way you would focus on your breath in meditation. Keep it up for a few days, a week...watch what happens!

Have at it! Love, Love Love!
Also watch Downton Abbey!

Live Omily,
~em

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