Linda: Happy couples hold each other with what Carl Rogers calls “unconditional positive regard”. Successful couples know how to be fully present with each other with an open heart. Over time, they have been deliberately cultivating an appreciation of each other. To become accomplished at this heightened state of love, a regular practice is required. Appreciating the basic goodness of our partner stems from the enhanced ability to know and accept that which is in ourselves, both the darkness and the glorious light. It is that very self-knowledge and self-acceptance that opens the heart of compassion.
Metta is a time-honored tradition in Buddhism which has been practiced in a formal way for thousands of years. It always begins with us. Silently in our heart, we repeat the words designed to send loving kindness straight to our own heart. May I be happy; may I be peaceful; may I be free from suffering. I am taking breaths through my heart to wish myself well. May I be happy just as I am; may I be peaceful with whatever is happening; may I be liberated; may I be free from danger; may I be free from mental suffering, may I be free form physical suffering, may I have ease of well-being. I am sending myself as much tenderness and care and warmth as I can. May I be happy; may I be free of danger; may I be free from suffering; may I be peaceful; may I be free. Many repetitions deepen the effect.
Now I am bringing to mind my beloved partner who is a true support, and I am enjoying that natural, spontaneous feeling of loving kindness that I have for them. When I bring them to mind, I notice the warmth in my heart. I now consciously choose to expand that warmth by sending you my blessing. May you be free from danger; may you be free from mental suffering; may you be free from physical suffering; may you have ease of well-being. Breathing in and out of my heart, I am wishing you well. May you be happy; may you free of danger; may you be free from suffering; may you be happy; may you be peaceful; may you be liberated; may you be peaceful; may you be free.
In the traditional form of Metta, there are additional rounds when you next call forth the image of an acquaintance, someone who you are not particularly close to, but are willing to extend kindness to them enlarging your circle of care. Then the meditator is challenged to imagine someone in their life that is difficult. The Buddhists refer to this person as a “near enemy”. Stretching to bless them with kindness makes one a bigger person. And finally the intentional blessing is extended to all of humanity by envisioning people all over the globe.
Researchers are documenting the beneficial effects of practicing Metta. They are finding we:
- Less critical of self
- Less critical and judgmental of others.
- Less focused on self and more connected to others.
- Have an increase in positive emotions such as contentment, gratitude, hope, joy, and love.
- Have greater clarity of our life purpose
- Experience deeper life satisfaction
- Have higher levels of empathy and compassion for self and others.
- Noticing that the practice alleviates physical pain
- Even slow the aging process.
To take on loving-kindness meditation is a great contribution to the well-being of our partnership. We thereby cultivate the mind habit of holding our partner with respect and gratitude. When the inevitable difficulties appear in life, we are fortified by our strong loving connection. And that’s one terrific insurance policy to take out that will protect us when difficult times come. And in the meanwhile, we can reap the benefits of living with sweet, kind, and loving thoughts in our mind. Don’t take my word for it; try out Metta and see what unfolds for you.
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