A Christian Loving Kindness Meditation

Loving Kindness Meditation (or Metta, from the Pali word in the Buddhist scriptural canon) is a traditional meditation from the Theraveda Buddhist tradition. Basically, one gradually extends loving kindness from oneself out to the world, following the basic format: loving kindness of (1) myself, (2), those I love, (3) enemies, (4) all persons equally, (5) all sentient beings everywhere. There are many teachings of how to practice Metta (Buddhist style) available, like these great instructions from Jack Kornfield. There is also an EXCELLENT podcast of a loving kindness meditation led by Sylvia Boorstein (a Jewish Buddhist teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in northern California), created as part of the inimitable and utterly fabulous On Being radio show with Krista Tippett.

Last night I was asked to lead “devotions” for our regular church council meeting. (N.B.: Doesn’t even the WORD “devotions” make you squirm? For me that word has unpleasant, evangelical connotations.)

So I came up with a Christianized Loving Kindness meditation and led the group through it.

Also, to avoid frightening people, I called this a “blessing exercise”, and not a “meditation.” In case, you know, some people think that meditation is the first step down the slippery slope to demon possession or… something.

So! Meditators, on your cushions and… begin!

The pauses are for breathing and “taking it in”. Also, make sure you go nice and sloooooooow!! The trick is not to get nervous and start hurrying through. Like I usually always do. Which is okay. Because I can extend loving kindness to myself, even in my hurrying. See how it works? genius.

(Start with some simple instructions for relaxation, like this:) Begin by settling into a comfortable position in your chair. Set your feet flat on the floor in a way that feels natural for you.  Wiggle your tushie around on your chair until you’re comfy. Make sure you’re sitting upright, but not straining, with your spine nice and tall so you can really breathe deep into your tummy. Maybe take a moment to relax your shoulders and let the tension out of your forehead. Let’s start by taking 5 long, slow breaths in and out. Center your awareness on your breathing, and let yourself enjoy a moment of relaxation.

Let’s begin by offering ourselves a blessing. Create an image of yourself in your mind – you as you are now, or maybe you as a small child, and try to cultivate a soft, loving heart towards yourself. Extend grace and love to yourself. Now, imagine yourself cupped in God’s loving, tender hands. Just let yourself rest in God’s hands for a moment. (Pause).

Now think with me:
May I experience God’s love.
May I experience God’s rest.
May I experience God’s peace.

(Long pause for about 5 deep breaths)

Let us now extend our blessing to someone you love. Imagine your partner, a best friend, a sister or brother, or even a child or parent, someone who brings you deep feelings of love, tenderness, and care. Imagine this person in your mind’s eye. Open your heart to this person and extend love and grace towards them. Now, imagine this person cupped in God’s loving, tender hands. Just let him or her rest in God’s hands for a moment. (Pause).

Now think with me:
May they experience God’s love.
May they experience God’s rest.
May they experience God’s peace.

(Long pause for about 5 deep breaths)

Now comes the hard part! Let us now extend our blessing to someone whom you just don’t get along with. This is someone who causes tension, anger or negative emotions when you interact with them. Imagine this person in your mind’s eye, and try to hold them gently in your heart, with feelings of benevolence and gentleness. If feelings of anger or tension arise, try to release these feelings to God, by just letting go and opening your heart to set these negative energies free to God’s care. Now, imagine this person cupped in God’s loving, tender hands. Just let him or her rest in God’s hands for a moment. (Pause).

Now think with me:
May they experience God’s love.
May they experience God’s rest.
May they experience God’s peace.

(Long pause for about 5 deep breaths)

Finally, let us extend God’s blessing to all beings, everywhere. All that is, all that has ever been made, all that is and was and is to come: it is all held by God, sustained by God’s love, and blessed by God’s Spirit. Imagine a beautiful, blue-green earth in your mind, full of plants and animals and so many people, so many beings – and this whole world is in God’s upturned palm. The whole world rests in God.

Now think with me:
May all beings everywhere experience God’s love.
May all beings everywhere experience God’s rest.
May all beings everywhere experience God’s peace.

(Looooong pause for about 10-15 deep breaths).

From a Wisdom Heart Newsletter

Amen.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “A Christian Loving Kindness Meditation

  1. Great way to draw together the very essence of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Buddha!

    Having been raised by an ultra-strict fundamentalist in rural Georgia, it has always dismayed me that fundamentalists seem to be far more interested in personal salvation than with loving kindness, despite the fact the Jesus only indirectly mentioned personal salvation, but spent his live preaching love of neighbor and enemy.

    That’s the essence of Jim Wallis’ wonderful book, On God’s Side.

    I’m reading Karen Armstrong’s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life (turns out that developing loving kindness is really hard work!!)

    Norlyn Dimmitt

  2. Pingback: Loving Kindness Centering Prayer | Gratitude

  3. I came across this link while reading Bill Drake’s book Almost hereditary: A white southerner’s journey out of racism. I have been in therapy and was taught to practice metta. I had imposed somewhat of a Christian slant on it myself. I love reading your take on it. I find it very helpful in forgiving hurts and accepting people as they are.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s