Archive for January, 2017

May I be filled with lovingkindness

“I am larger, better than I thought; I did not know I held so much goodness.”
– Walt Whitman

There are plenty of reasons for developing a kind and generous spirit for ourselves and others.  Anecdotal evidence has long maintained that by practicing lovingkindness we can reduce our own pain and boost our well-being.  Perhaps now, more than ever, we can reduce our anxiety, with a willingness to practice Metta or lovingkindness.

I am not in a position to solve the world’s problems.  Sometimes I can barely solve my own.  Over the past few months I’ve experienced hate, anxiety, fear, hopelessness and anger.  This is not my usual state of mind.  It has taken its toll on me both physically and mentally.  I know that if I am in the grip of the power of anger and hatred, that it is an enemy that will wreak havoc with my psyche.  I will be less likely to make sound decisions regarding that which is causing me angst.   I’d been practicing Metta and then threw it out the window when I needed it most.  For my own sanity, I’m returning to this practice of lovingkindness for myself and others.  If you’re interested in trying it, here’s an example.

Begin with a short meditation, maybe five minutes each morning, with a recitation of phrases, like the ones below, expressed with the intention of planting seeds of loving wishes over and over in your heart.  Breathe gently as you repeat the phrases directed toward your own well-being.  Let your heart be soft.  Let go of any plans or preoccupations.

May I be filled with loving kindness.
May I be well.
May I be peaceful and at ease.

May I be safe.
May I be happy.

Practice Metta until the sense of lovingkindness for yourself grows.  It is especially important to be patient and kind toward yourself, allowing whatever arises to be received in a spirit of friendliness and kind affection. When you feel you have established some stronger sense of lovingkindness for yourself, you can then expand your meditation to include others.   As you gradually  include other people in your meditation, picture each beloved person, reciting inwardly the same phrases, evoking a sense of lovingkindness for each of them.   You can choose to eventually extend your meditation to picture and include community members, neighbors, people everywhere, animals, all beings and the earth.

Lovingkindness can be practiced anywhere. You can use this meditation in traffic jams, in meetings, on airplanes, in the supermarket – any place where you feel anxious.

As you journey through your day, there are simple actions you can take to strengthen your lovingkindness and generosity muscle, so it becomes more natural.

Engage with the people you interact with: the grocery store clerk, a receptionist or people on the street.  Listen when they talk.  Gently smile and silently wish them goodwill.  You might be surprised at the pleasant feeling you will reap.

Offer acts of kindness.   The other day I noticed a young boy rush over to open a door for someone carrying a large box.  He was beaming when he walked back to his dad.  Gestures such as this activate a pay-it-forward climate of generosity in your little corner of the world.

You can practice lovingkindness at various times, throughout your day.  When you shower, notice the feeling of the water cascading down your body and take a moment to relish it.  Set an alarm on your phone to go off periodically throughout the day and when you hear it, take a breath or two and send yourself thoughts of kindness.  “May I be happy and safe.”   “May I live with ease.”  “May I be happy.”

Extending lovingkindness to myself and to others is a simple but powerful expression of mindfulness that makes a significant difference in my life.  I can open my heart and increase feelings of self-kindness and inner calm.

Then I can tackle the problems of the world from a place of peace and calm.


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I marched today.

I’d had some trepidation regarding the Women’s March in Washington and a good excuse not to participate.  I’m in St. Croix.

That being the case, with mixed feelings, the idea of joining that historic March was off the table, but not forgotten.   Many dear friends were posting about the March on social media.  They’re not only marching in our Capital but in cities across the nation.  I thought that the only way I could feel connected was to pray and sit in silent solidarity, on this beautiful island miles away from all of them.

And then I saw the poster, tucked away, in the bathroom of a small restaurant on the beach.  I’d not seen it anywhere else.   The universe was beckoning me.  I’m marching.

My husband asks, “Is it okay if I join you?  Or is this just a thing for women?”

“I think that would be great.  It’s about equality and human rights.”  I visit the Women’s March webpage and read to him.

We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.

We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.

“Okay, I’m in,” he says.

We marched today.

The Women’s March webpage also states that the movement follows the principles of Kingian non-violence.  I’m not familiar with that term, so I Google it.  And find that these principles evolved from Dr. Martin Luther King’s concept of a Beloved Community, a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth.

In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred.

We marched today.  We were a part of the Beloved Community of St. Croix.

Our march today was not against, but for . . .

For our daughters and granddaughters who I pray will someday live in a world where women are respected and treated as equals.  Where women will not be judged on their looks, but on their intellect and capabilities.

As I marched, I couldn’t help but think about . . . .

  • The women and girls around the world who are made to marry as children or trafficked into forced labor and sex slavery.
  • The women who are refused access to education, political participation and prevented from making deeply personal choices in their personal lives.
  • The women trapped in conflict where rape is perpetrated as a weapon of war.
  • Mary, who I met yesterday. She couldn’t come because she had to work.  From her I learned that the United States citizens on St. Croix and other U.S. Territories cannot vote in the Presidential election.  The Territories, not being states, can’t appoint electors to the Electoral College– and therefore US citizens residing there can’t vote in general elections for President.

The March ended on the grounds of D. Hamilton National Park, where Fort Christiansted’s yellow walls rise up from the green grass.  Just a few days prior, we’d visited the fort and I went down into the dungeon, where slaves who’d committed a crime, as simple as slapping a white person, were imprisoned.  All five feet, four and one-half inches of me could not stand up in the dungeon.  I looked at the women around me.  A significant part of the crowd were residents, some of them direct descendants of the slaves brought here to run the sugar plantations.

Now the March is over and my heart is heavy, the jubilance diminished.

Sometimes the most difficult thing is making the decision to act.  This March was easy compared to what my long dead sisters and women all over the world have suffered in the struggle for human rights.

Will I be brave enough to do more?

Can I be like my spirit sister, Susan B. Anthony?

The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball – the further I am rolled, the more I gain.”          – Susan B. Anthony

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