It's Friday night, the end of a busy week at work, and I'm just settling in for the evening and catching up on the news. Puerto Rico and Hurricane Marie is the headline story.
As I watch the news, stories of destruction and the despair unfold. Growing more and more uncomfortable, I instantly recognize an all to obvious paradox. While the Island of Puerto Rico lay in ruins, and its citizens struggle for basic needs and survival, I sit perfectly comfortable in my living room, with plenty of food, water, electricity, and customary luxuries. And with each story of suffering, my heart grows heavier.
But I ask myself, in times like these, what good does a heavy heart do?
While I have long dreamt of being on the grounds and the front lines of disaster relief, I know my reality. This is not my time. Maybe someday soon, maybe when my kids are grown and gone, maybe when I’m retired, but no, this is not my time.
As I continued to watch, I quietly examined my heart, and pondered my feelings of helplessness. I questioned, what I can do? Several thoughts quickly came to mind…I can donate to the red cross, I can use my voice to insist that adequate assistance is provided, both now and in the future, by reaching out to local, state, and federal political leaders. I can join millions of others and pray. And, then it hit me! I can make good use of my most sacred spiritual discipline--daily meditation--and dedicate my practice to sending loving kindness to the citizens of Puerto Rico.
Metta meditation, translated as loving-kindness meditation, uses repetitive mantras, or phrases, and focuses on developing and wishing all sentient beings (which means any being capable of feeling) unconditional love. Through these mindful and heart-felt offerings, we cultivate feeling goodwill and unconditional positive regard for those on the receiving end.
By practicing Metta, we create a sense of oneness, bringing our hearts together, as opposed to feelings of separation and alienation, which can easily happen when people who are suffering appear on tv screens in our living room, but feel as though they are worlds away. One writer states, “Metta Meditation is the practice of the embodiment of friendliness and non-discrimination and opens the heart to the sublime qualities of altruistic love. It is a powerful antidote to the unworthy heart. Opening your heart to compassion and loving kindness for yourself and then others that helps dissolve feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, and disconnection.”
Though it may seem that we can only watch and empathize, I know that together, by practicing loving kindness meditation, we can make a difference. The practice itself ignites and harnesses our capacity for care and concern for others. Our hearts are limitless, and we have incredible amounts of collective love to give.
I invite you to join me in this sweet and simple, but powerful meditation, where together, we can send as much loving kindness that we can foster to our friends and fellow human beings in Puerto Rico.
Below are instructions and a script for a Metta Meditation that is suitable for all levels of meditation experience. Feel free to download and print the script, or you can listen to the guided meditation that I have created especially for you, and to benefit the many beautiful souls of Puerto Rico.
I hope you will take a moment to join me, and spend a few minutes relaxing your body, calming your mind, and sending your deepest, and most heart-felt wishes for peace, health, and well-being to those who are deeply suffering in Puerto Rico.
Metta (Loving Kindness) Meditation for Puerto Rico
Begin by sitting comfortably, closing your eyes, relaxing your body.
Direct your attention to your breath, and while breathing naturally and gently, follow the complete cycle of the breath, the inhale and the exhale.
Continue to focus on your breath for a few minutes, and allow your body to relax.
When thoughts or distractions arise, as they will, just gently redirect your awareness to your breath.
Next, gently bring your awareness to your chest.
As you continue to breath notice any sensations.
Now, focus specifically on the middle of your chest and around your heart and your heart center.
Repeat to yourself softly and gently, feeling the resonance of the words…
May my heart be filled with love…
Begin to experience the feeling of love and warmth through your whole body.
Now bring and hold in your mind the people of Puerto Rico…send them feelings of warmth and caring as you wish them well…
Continue breathing naturally and gently and silently state the following phrases, repeating each one three times before moving to the next phrase.
- May you be well, healthy and strong
- May you be happy
- May you abide in peace
- May you feel safe and secure
- May you feel loved and cared for
- May you have all that you need
Now, bring your attention back to your heart center, and focus on your breathing for a few moments.
Now, shift your awareness from your heart center back to your breath, and continue to breath.
When you are ready to conclude, bring your awareness back to your senses and to the room, and open your eyes.