For the New Year ... and the year through
A Guided Meditation on Loving-Kindness by Stephen Levine
(To be fed slowly to oneself or read aloud to a friend)
Find a comfortable position in which you can sit for a while, one that isn't rigid or stiff, and just relax into your body.
Let your breath come and go of itself.
Now, reflect on the way anger makes you feel. Reflect on the fire in the body and in the mind which is anger. The separation that it causes, the isolation and the loneliness and the pain.
Anger comes from pain and goes back to pain.
Anger most often wants to do injury to its object, to the person or thing that it is directed toward.
Feel it in the body, in the mind; that turbulence, that suffering. The heart closed, armored against the world. Isolated.
Reflect on the painfulness, the separation which is anger, which is envy, which is jealousy.
Experience the tightness, the loneliness, the separation of anger, the fire. Buddha likened anger to picking up a burning ember in your bare hands with the intention of throwing it at another, all the while being seared, burned by that anger.
Now, reflect on its opposite, on the qualities of warmth and patience which allow us space in which to exist, to flower. How the anger falls away, how the knots become untied, dissolved in that openness of warmth and patience.
With each breath, breathe in warmth, breathe out patience. Warmth being breathed in, patience slowly on the exhale. Warmth and patience. Warmth feeding you, nurturing you, allowing you to grow. Patience supplying all the room, all that spaciousness.
Feel the fire extinguished by this openness of heart. All the armoring gone. Warmth and spaciousness.
Now allow that warmth and patience to give rise to forgiveness. Reflect first on those who may have caused you pain in the past, either purposefully or by accident. Send them forgiveness. Easily now. Not by tensing or pushing. Allow those old curtains of resentment to fall.
Picture the person who somehow caused you pain, and say silently to yourself, "I forgive anyone in the past who, intentionally or unintentionally--by thought, speech, or deed-caused me pain." Forgive them as best you can.
If there's still resentment, accept that too; let it be dissipated as the light of forgiveness grows. Allow yourself to forgive. Let go of the pride that holds on to resentment. "I forgive you." Just let it go.
The power of forgiveness is so great. The power that has room to forgive.
Now for those to whom you may have caused pain. Ask their forgiveness. Not with guilt, but with understanding that we stumble, that we are all partially blind. Let go of your self-judgement.
And silently to yourself as it feels right, say, "Anyone I have caused pain to, intentionally or unintentionally, through my thoughts, my speech, or my action, I ask their forgiveness."
Let all the rigidity that blocks the heart fall away.
Now, allow yourself to be forgiven. The stiffness in the chest, in the body, in the mind, is just resistance. Let it go. Let go of your resentment for yourself. Forgive yourself. Say "I forgive you" to yourself.
Make room for yourself in your heart. 'I forgive myself for all the pain I've caused, for even the things I didn't mean to do."
Using your own name say "I forgive you" to yourself.
Gently. Open your heart to yourself. Gently. Give it time. Self-giving. Bring forgiveness into your heart for yourself.
Make room for you. Envelop yourself in forgiveness and letting go.
Now, with that sense of openness, direct loving-kindness to yourself, in your heart repeat to yourself as it is comfortable, with whatever words you find appropriate, "May I be happy. May I be free from tension, fear, worry. May I be healed, may I be at peace.
"May I be done with suffering, done with tension, anger, and separation. Done with fear and hiding and doubt. May I be happy." Let you love you.
"May I be happy. May I let go of all the things that cause me suffering." Wish yourself well.
"May I be free from suffering." May I find my joy. May I be filled with love. May I come home to the light. May I be at peace."
Now, direct that love towards someone you visualize in your mind for whom you feel great love--a teacher, a friend, someone you like very much-picture them and reflect, "May you be happy. May you be free from suffering."
Picture another being from whom you have love, whom you wish well. Picture them clearly, as distinctly and easily as possible, and direct your feelings of well being to them. "May you be happy and free from suffering."
Let that love expand to everyone in the house in which you are sitting. Fill the room with your love, with your care. Let the whole room, all these people, be in your heart. "May we all be happy."
Let it expand outward. Let it include the neighborhood. Let it include all of the town you live in. Expansive. Spacious. Caring.
Let it keep expanding.
The whole country.
The whole continent.
Open your heart to all. "May all beings be happy. May all beings be clear-minded. May their hearts open. May they be free from suffering." Slowly envelop the whole planet in your loving-kindness. Slowly and gently let your love spread to all beings everywhere.
May all beings share in this openness. May everyone experience this spaciousness, this openness of heart.
"I share the merit of this meditation with all sentient beings everywhere. May all beings know warmth and patience in their lives. May all beings know self-forgiveness. May we learn just to be, a moment at a time. No expectations. Just an open heart. Sharing as we can."
"May all beings be happy. May all beings be free from suffering. May all beings be happy. May we all be free. May we all come home to our completeness."