So as I approach my second 10 days retreat which is coming up in five days I can reflect on the fact that i have been able to keep a very consistent practice through this first year of Vipassana. Even with life changes, schedule complications and some traveling, i always managed to keep my practice. I don’t keep any written record but i’m sure that there was never a day in which I failed to sit at least once. I do meditate twice a day and sometimes i try to squeeze in a third session during the weekends, so this is the part i feel satisfied in terms of feeling that i’m giving a sincere effort.
I start most of my meditation sessions with Anapana and then i switch to Vipassana. In some occasions when i feel that my mind it’s too agitated i can even spend three quarters of my session doing Anapana. Conversely, in those (rare) times in which i feel very concentrated i skip Anapana and I focus directly on Vipassana. However, for some reason I have not been able to include the practice of Metta as the third component of my practice. I listen to some of the Goenka phrases now and then, but for some reason, I don’t get to “buy” into Metta. Therefore this is something i will try to stress in this upcoming year.
It’s not that I don’t want to send good messages to myself, to others, to the world. Of course it’s not that. It’s just that i never believed in affirmations. Somehow it feels to me like something that makes no difference and I’m trying to work on it. I even have a book called Metta which explains all the levels of that practice, etc.
One of my theories is that once i advance more in Vipassana, Metta will feel better.
I wonder if most meditators include Metta in their practice everyday. Perhaps i could try to do a mini-sesion of five minutes every day (separated from my regular meditation practice.
Some thoughts before embarking in another journey of silence and reflection.
6 thoughts on “Struggling for Metta”
Thanks for sharing your inspirational story of daily practice. Your story is motivation for me to make more effort to sit regularly. I find that if it doesn’t appear as though I’ll be able to sit for one full hour in the morning and one full hour in the evening, I become discouraged and don’t sit at all. Also experiencing increased awareness of uncomfortable personal tendencies and correlate that with the meditation. I feel that I need to get over the Hump. Regarding your experience with the Metta aspect, I find that if I have done a good sit and than simply verbalize “May All Beings Be Peaceful, May All Beings Be Harmonious, May All Beings Be Happy” 3 times, that my experience follows the verbal expression. I too have struggled with the idea of affirmations, but have recently in fact since my first retreat experienced the power of words. After all, words are thought and vice versa, so it makes sense that if you express loving(Metta) words, your thoughts and experienced will in turn be reinforced. Thank you again. Best in your meditation.
I have completed my first 10 day sitting on the 21st January 2014. I found it to be the most personal and self-reflective experience I have ever had. The challenge for me now is not to become so distracted by life’s trappings and find the time for both meditation sittings. However in saying that I know that in maintaining my daily practice I feel calm and peace washing over me and I feel so much more connected with who I am – self discovery 🙂
With regard to Metta I do what Jeff has mentioned at the end of my meditation and just sit in this energy with gratitude for about 5 minutes. These words resonate at a high frequency and offer a positive vibration. With practice these words said over and over again will make you start to feel the emotion in it.
Looking forward to hearing about your second retreat experience. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about your experience thus far, cheers 🙂
I only do metta when I feel grateful at the end of a meditation, which isn’t all that often. I don’t want to force it, it feels false and worthless. What are the words that vibrate at a high frequency Maggie?
I finished my first 10 day course almost four months ago. There have only been a handful of times where I haven’t sat for two hours a day. It gets tough because it’s hard to know if it’s doing me any good or not. Something tells me to keep persevering though.
I remember having exactly the same issue as you. I even went as far as discussing this issue with an AT. When he said it will come with practice I was scepticial. But a couple of years on it did. Everyone is different, but for me what I understand as I have progressed on the path is my capacity to give Metta has expanded. At first I perceived Metta as a way to get something for my own personal gain, and felt a bit silly saying the words internally. It was not an aspect of my practice I always stuck to, I tried to observe what was happening in me, what was stopping me – to be equinimous with whatever occured at the end of my hour sit. Gradually, bit by bit, it has become as important aspect of my practice that I try not to have an attachment to. Metta for me now is not about what I can gain on a personal level, but about my wish or intention of how and why I exist: in whatever capacity is possible to me, to make the world and people around me experience the power of dhamma. I understand to be able to give Metta with my current lifestyle is not something I can do every time I sit, maybe it will only come once a week, maybe once a month, but when it does I am grateful.
You shared your experience with others so that it helps with this blog. Is it an expression of Metta or not?
I just completed my first course about a month ago and it was a profound experience for me. I found the discussion of metta practice at the course fairly cursory, and wonder if considering it from a different perspective might help you. I first came upon the practice in a book called “The Mindful Way to Self Compassion” that I recommend. I use five different phrases that are spoken as a wish (NOT an affirmation. Simply true, honest wishes for your own peace and the peace of others.)
-I wish to be free from harm
-I wish to be healthy and strong
-I wish to be at peace with whatever is happening
-I wish to be happy just as i am
-I wish to care for myself in this ever-changing world with grace, ease, and joy
Start with yourself, then widen your circle to a friend, an acquaintance, someone who challenges you, everyone in your city, country, all beings. I often start with a short metta practice to build compassion for myself during my sit.
I find those five wishes so beautiful and so powerful. Saying them has, at times, helped me find the places in my life where I am not at peace with what is happening, or not happy with myself just as I am, etc. Good luck. Keep trying metta and give it some time. i think it’s a powerful practice.