A powerful awareness arose yesterday morning that I feel compelled share with you, along with the simple meditation I was practicing when the insight came. But first, here’s how this all started…
I see it as vitally important that we stay connected to our hearts, because if we are not attuned to what is happening within our own hearts, we cannot feel love with any depth. When we are unable to feel love, life becomes mechanical, empty and not worth living. Yet, the pressures of daily life and the vast quantities of information we are required to almost continuously process can leave us feeling like robots… trapped in our heads. This state of being creates untold suffering throughout the world.
To remedy the gnawing feeling that results from chronic information overload, we may unconsciously seek external connection as a salve to soothe our hurt. Because we are so busy, this connection may come in a virtual form… social media, texting, email, etc. However, these interfaces can make us feel MORE isolated as they provide more information to process, without actually feeling that other person’s physical presence. Don’t get me wrong, connecting electronically can be great. It’s what we are doing right now. If we happen to open that poignant inspirational email that helps us feel our hearts and remember what is really important in life, FANTASTIC. My hope is that this message to you will serve as just that.
What is the way out of our heads and into our hearts? I am going to share with you a powerful way to feel connected to your heart that, as paradoxical as it may sound, you can do by yourself. This process is a way to connect with the love within you, regardless of what the external conditions of your life may be. This is a way to connect with an infinite well of love from which you may continuously draw to quench your own thirst and that of those around you, enabling you to feel deeply connected with yourself and everyone in your life.
The process is a practice that I previously shared with you here. If you haven’t yet read it, I encourage you do to do so so that this article is more meaningful. It is called Metta meditation, a traditional Buddhist meditation on loving kindness, in which one generates feelings of compassion for all beings. Modern psychological studies confirm that performing this practice makes a significant positive impact on ones health and well-being.
So why am I talking about it again? What has changed? Well, my own Metta practice has subtly but significantly changed because of an insight that arose yesterday morning when I was sitting on my meditation cushion. Of late, I had started feeling disconnected from my Metta practice. It had become mechanical, and and I couldn’t figure out why. I was practicing at the end of my morning meditation as I always had, but it all just felt like words… no connection. So, I asked myself, “Why am I unable to feel compassion for others hurt right now? Why do I feel numb?” The answer that arose surprised me: “Because you are not allowing yourself to feel compassion for your own hurt.”
I then felt into my own heart and felt the hurt… the hurt that came from self-judgment, fear, insecurity, from feeling like I’m not enough… the emotional pain that was alive in that moment. I allowed it to be. I didn’t go into my head to try to fix it. I didn’t invalidate the feelings by saying that they were irrational. I felt them. Then, I shifted to thoughts of my five year old daughter, someone for whom I deeply desire freedom from suffering. I felt into how much it would hurt her heart to carry the judgments and feelings that I was carrying in my own heart. Tears ran down my face as I thought to myself, “I wouldn’t want her to have to feel this way. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel this way.” And, so I then I began to expand my wish for the wellbeing of others… first to those close to me, then to those with whom I am in conflict, and onward until my empathy spread to all sentient beings everywhere. After this infinite expansion, I turned this compassion upon myself and felt my own love. The simple act of beginning my Metta practice by allowing myself to feel my own emotional pain transformed the practice from a lifeless ritual to one that was deeply healing. I am left feeling more connected to myself, and more connected to everyone around me, including you!