Lovingkindness meditation, or metta practice, is a form of Buddhist meditation in which one (silently) repeats a set of chosen phrases, sending wishes of wellbeing to oneself and others. We focus our loving attention on one person at a time, from ourselves to mentors, to neutral persons, to persons with whom we feel conflict. (Want to learn more? Get your free worksheet here!)
I see this form of meditation as an inherently activist practice.
In this practice, we are confronted with interconnection and our place in what Mary Oliver calls, “The family of things.” When we understand inherent interconnection, we understand that our liberation is bound up in others’ liberation.
We are not alone. We are part of an interdependent family.
I cannot be free until you are free. When we understand that truth, we are compelled to act toward the liberation of all.
In short, we can no longer see others as separate from ourselves.
This is where the spiritual and the political dance together.
When I practice lovingkindness, I feel a deep affinity for the person for whom I am practicing. When I wish for others to be well, safe, and at ease, I have some skin in the game. When I extend well-wishes to some, it becomes common practice to extend those same well-wishes to everyone.
Everyone is someone’s most precious person. Me. You. My sweetie. The guy who sells me my kombucha. The marginally housed people in our neighborhoods.
Even the people with whom we have conflict. And, much as we wish it were otherwise, their liberation is bound up in ours, too.
As the old IWW (International Workers of the World) saying goes, “An injury to one is an injury to all.”
So we send them the same lovingkindness.
Because there is no separation.
And if there is no separation, then how do you stop at well-wishes?
When we understand lovingkindness for what it is, something that acknowledges universal belonging and deserving, it’s hard to end with good vibes. (Hint: I’m not here just for good vibes, and I doubt you are, either.)
So we get brave with our love.
[bctt tweet=”Lovingkindness is how we get brave with our love: by offering it to everyone.”]
We smile at strangers on the street. We greet our neighbors. We adopt animals. We deliver meals. We fund projects that protect the most vulnerable among us.
We speak out against oppression. We rise up against oppression.
Lovingkindness practice doesn’t end at the edge of our meditation cushions.
To put it into practice fully, it also takes wise action.
Organized under Lovingkindness.