Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Loving-kindness Meditation

My friend, A-Team cheerleader, and meditation enthusiast, Stef, graciously sent me a CD of some of her favorite guided meditations to help me meditate when my pain is so distracting, I can't even stay with one breath. It has been a few days since I meditated, and I noticed the effects on my spirit. I am so imperfect about my practice, yet I feel like it is an integral part of my spiritual life, so I keep trying.

After a few days of whining that I hadn't left adequate time for prayer or meditation in my busy mornings, this morning I turned words into deeds and sat down to listen to Jack Kornfield's loving-kindness meditation that was on Stef's compilation. This is a traditional Buddhist meditation that is designed to help us have a compassionate and loving heart toward all. For the record, I am not a Buddhist, but loosely consider myself a student of Buddhist meditation. The loving-kindness meditation first had me focus on repeating phrases that would open my heart and encourage compassion and love for myself. Then, I repeated the process, first focusing on people who are dear to me, and then later, extending the loving thoughts toward strangers and even enemies (which I gratefully do not have).

I felt fantastic after this, getting up from my meditation and the prayer that followed it, feeling truly at one with the world (Dan Brown fans: at-one-ment). My body and soul felt harmonious. Then it was time to walk Kacy before my chiropractic appointment, and I was trying to lead her out of the shadowy side of the block and onto the western side of the street, which was bathed in sunlight. Being a terrier, she wanted to go east, to Wisconsin Ave., so she was reluctant as I led her across the intersection of 33rd and Volta. At this point, a lunatic ignores the four-way stop at the intersection, and rolls through, stopping just two feet away from hitting Kacy and me, yet staring me down with a clear "Hurry up!" look. "What the fuck?!" I say, and my body and soul fill with rage. So much for my loving-kindness meditation! He then rolls down his window and says something vitriolic to me; luckily, I couldn't hear his phrase over my iPod, but I distinctly caught the f-bomb and the word "puppy."

So this rage-a-holic dude was mad at my dog for being slow when he was rushing through a residential intersection. I seethed for a few minutes, beating myself up for letting the harmony get away from me so quickly, while simultaneously laughing at the idea of this guy "ruining" my loving-kindness meditation. Then I stopped and did two crucial things: first, I decided Mr. Jerky Driver wasn't going to take away any more peace from my day, and I let it go. Really. Then I decided that there was nothing to "ruin" from my meditation, that I could accept myself for the volatile, imperfect human that I am, and more importantly, that I could extend loving-kindness to other people I would encounter over the course of my day.

And I have: I had compassion for the ridiculously slow and frustrating receptionist at my chiropractor's office, as well as for his assistant who carries a boatload of attitude toward anyone she perceives as "privileged," which she deems me. I complimented the receptionist on something she did well, and I asked the assistant how her kids were and how old they are now. These actions were not for show; they were sincere, and I believe they emanated from the intention of my loving-kindness meditation. Even with the jerky driver, I'd say this is a very good day indeed.


Stef said...

"I could accept myself for the volatile, imperfect human that I am, and more importantly, that I could extend loving-kindness to other people I would encounter over the course of my day." Sarah, this is it EXACTLY! "Acceptance" means accepting what IS, without judgment - which includes my *complete* human-ness (faults as well as strengths). I'm delighted you tasted some of that experience, too! :)


Sarah said...

**Big, happy smile** Thank you! Enjoy your retreat.