Due to the pandemic the last two and a half years have been very challenging because of the isolation and the heightened concern over our loved ones – those we serve – or ourselves, contracting the COVID-19 virus. This situation, in addition to the divisive social and political atmosphere in our country, as well as the ongoing emergence of global conflicts, has created a great deal of personal stress and disconnection between ourselves and others.
I would like to offer this simple meditation based on maitri, a Sanskrit word that is translated as unconditional friendliness, as a means to bring more peace and connection back into our lives. The steps are very straightforward and the mediation will take only 10 to 15 minutes out of your day. The heart of the practice lies in generating positive wishes for all beings. I encourage you to make a commitment to do the meditation for 14 days in a row and then determine for yourself if you are experiencing any positive benefits.
- Take your meditation posture, either sitting on the floor or in a chair. Sit upright and sense where your body makes contact with the floor or the chair. Relax your face, shoulders, and arms, and let your hands rest on your thighs. If at any time during the meditation you realize you have been distracted, gently return to the exercise without being hard on yourself.
- You can let your gaze rest on a spot a few feet in front of you, or you may close your eyes. Bring your attention to your natural breathing, feeling the flow of your breath. Do this for a few moments to settle the mind. Let’s begin the maitri meditation.
- Envision a person you truly cherish sitting in front of you. Looking at your loved one, send them the following wishes; May you be Safe, May you be Happy, May you be Healthy, May you live with ease. Think about what these wishes may mean for this person.
- Bring your awareness back to your breath. Now bring the image of a neutral person to mind; a person that you do not have strong feelings for one way or another. While looking at this individual, send them the same four wishes; May you be Safe, May you be Happy, May you be Healthy, May you live with Ease. What might these wishes mean for this neutral person?
- Bring your awareness back to your breath. Call to mind a person that you are having a difficult time with. They are making your life harder. While looking into this person’s face, send the four wishes; May you be Safe, May you be Happy, May you be Healthy, May you live with Ease. What might these wishes mean for this person that is difficult?
- Back to your breath. Now envision yourself; your body, your face, your eyes. Send yourself these same wishes; May I be Safe, May I be Happy, May I be Healthy, May I live with Ease. What do these wishes mean to you?
- Bring your awareness back to your breath. Bring together the person you love, the neutral person, the difficult person, and yourself. Picture all of you sitting together. Add to this vision every being in your neighborhood, in your town, in your state. Now picture all the beings in your country, all the beings on the continent, all beings on every continent, all beings on earth. All beings everywhere. Radiate love and compassion from your heart out to all these beings. Send the wishes; May we all be Safe, May we all be Happy, May we all be Healthy, May we all live with Ease. May we all be Safe, May we all be Happy, May we all be Healthy, May we all live with Ease.
- Bring your awareness back to your breathing. Feel the flow of your breath. Gently and fully open your eyes.
May this practice help you cultivate loving-kindness, warmth, and compassion towards all beings, including yourself.