WARNING: This post is way out there one the “Woo-Woo” scale.
I grew up going to church – – – a lot. Multiple times per week.
We did a lot of singing, sermon listening, and prayer circles.
The church I attended used prayer as a way to ask God for something that you wanted. For example, a new job or a positive result in a medical circumstance. We would gather in a prayer circle and pray for a positive result in our own life or in the life of someone we cared about. After the prayer, we would wait to see what happened, and report back to the group the following week.
I no longer go to church multiple times a week. And I no longer pray in the way I just described.
But I still have the desire to connect spiritually with other people. And I still desire to have positive outcomes for people I care about.
My spiritual journey has evolved into believing more in the energy you put out and take in. It’s clear to me that we can pick up on the energy of others. You can tell when your friend or loved one is angry or happy with you without having to say a word.
A few years ago there was a big backlash in the culture about “Thoughts and Prayers.” Just do a web search and you’ll find hundreds of articles and posts on both sides.
That’s when I started searching for a way to express more clearly what my intention was.
What if I prayed for someone that was of a different religion? That seemed like it could backfire on me.
What about now that the phrase itself has become politicized? I wanted something different in my vocabulary.
I was excited to discover the concept of a Metta Prayer.
The way I understand it is that Metta is focusing on the feelings of lovingkindness.
I practice it in the mornings when I do a guided meditation. I simply bring to mind a person. I really try to conjure them in my mind’s eye.
Once I can visualize this person on the little slide show in my brain, I recite short phrases aiming my intention of lovingkindness at the person.
“May you be happy.
May you not suffer.
May you be safe.
May you be peaceful.”
Phrases like that. I’ll do that for a minute or two. Some days it feels hollow and unconnected, but sometimes I can really connect with the feeling about that person. I really do want them to be happy. I really do wish that they will not suffer.
As you practice the Metta prayer, you can point this intention at people you love, people that are challenging to you, and even at yourself.
One of the main reasons I like it so much is that I don’t have to wait for a result I have no control over. Regardless of if the person I was thinking about is more happy or more peaceful is besides the point. The exercise is really about me tapping into a way of thinking that outputs positive energy. It’s impossible for me to be concentrating on lovingkindness and also on negative emotions at the same time. When I then interact with people, it’s more likely that I will be putting these “vibes” into the world.
The Metta Prayer has given me a way to put positive energy into the system regardless of the other person’s beliefs. I can find no downside to it, and it has freed me up from looking for some kind of outcome. The outcome is in the practice itself.
May you all be happy and not suffer.
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