I’ve recently begun leading group meditations.
It began after a weekend meditation module of my 300 hour yoga teacher training recently, at Sonic Yoga, when I was offered the opportunity to lead the class in meditation. I chose one of my favorites, a variation of the Buddhist “Metta” or “Loving-Kindness” meditation, as it had been taught to me by Lauren Hanna.
My teacher, Sarah Ireland, encouraged me to continue this practice, and share this with more people. We agreed it was so important right now.
With people going back to periods of isolation, a time of shutting down and shutting in during a time when most families want to be together – a time when, statistically, people already struggle emotionally – a meditation of compassion would be so important. And I’d shared it before, during a similar time.
When NYC first announced that it would be shutting everything down, back in March… back when people were beginning to be sent home to work remotely, businesses, gyms, restaurants, all were closing, I shared this exact message in a video I sent to YouTube.
The variation I learned starts out like this:
May I be filled with Loving-Kindness. May I be Well. May I be Peaceful, and at Ease. May I be Happy.
Other iterations are shorter. Pema Chödrön , in Comfortable with Uncertainty, and The Places That Scare You, puts it simply:
"May I enjoy happiness and the root of all happiness."
Repeating this phrase, or these phrases, over and over, you bring that feeling of comfort into your self, showing yourself compassion, wishing yourself well. It’s often a very difficult practice on its own, but it doesn’t stop there.
Once you feel saturated with loving-kindness, it’s time to turn that feeling outward. This outward focus is exactly why I felt the meditation was so useful for these uncertain times. The mantra (as it was taught me) then becomes as follows:
May you be filled with loving-kindness. May you be well. May you be peaceful and at ease. May you be happy.
Pema Chödrön similarly replaces the “I” of the phrase with “you,” or with the name of a specific person… because there’s a process!!
- Direct the meditation toward yourself
- Direct the meditation toward a loved one
- Direct the meditation toward friends and/or acquaintances
- Direct the meditation toward strangers, or people to whom you feel indifferent
- Direct the meditation toward someone with whom you are in conflict
- Direct the meditation to all of the above
- Direct the meditation out to “All Beings”
It sounds like a long process, and it can be, especially when often you feel you can’t get past #1. And that’s 100% okay. There is no rule that says you need to feel so full of loving-kindness all the time that you can always send it out to other people. We must take care of ourselves, first and foremost.
Which brings me back to why I feel it is so important for this time.
We need to show this loving-kindness to our Self. I capitalize Self because I equate it with the Soul – the spark of the divine in each of us (spoiler: it’s the same spark… but that’s for another post). We need to be able to show love and comfort to our Self, and allow our Self to be happy.
And then we need to share that message – to practice empathy. To understand how we’re all connected.
Like the song says, “What the World needs now is Love, sweet Love.”
I think I know what she means.
To you who are reading this right now,
May you be filled with loving-kindness.
May you be well.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be happy.
If you’d like to be receive weekly emails with my group meditation info, vist the “Contact” page on this site, and drop me a line with your address!