With so much pain and suffering in the news, I wanted to share this guided metta meditation that I’ve used for years. It’s from the book Who is My Self: A Guide to Buddhist Meditation by Ayya Khema, a wonderfully skillful nun in the Theravada tradition.
This particular guided meditation has been especially helpful in my metta for the dear people of Haiti, and as you’ll see, the wording is easily adapted to specific metta for them or anyone in dire need.
You may also notice that this metta meditation, using the in-breath and out-breath, has similarities to the tonglen practice of Tibetan Buddhism. Both are highly skillful means for developing the heart of compassion. (See All-Embracing Compassion-The Heart-Practice of Tonglen)
May this guided meditation inspire and heal you. May all our hearts of find the peace that is beyond all conditions, beyond all understanding, yet as near as our next breath! After the meditation, you are invited to listen to “Sound of Wind Driven Rain” by master guitarist Will Ackerman.
Breathing in Peace, Breathing out Love
On your next in-breath, fill yourself with peace wherever you think it might come from: the night sky, the trees, the sun, or the wind. Breathe in peace and fill yourself with it. And on your next out-breath breathe out love and surround yourself with it, holding you in a warm embrace. Breathe in peace, fill yourself with it; breathe out love and surround yourself with it.
Now breathe out love and peace to the person sitting next to you. Give that person the great gift you can give, filling him or her with all the peace that you can muster, and surrounding and embracing him or her with all the love that comes from your heart. And as you breathe in and out, fill yourself with more peace and breathe out more love, so that you can give more out of the fullness of your heart.
Now think of your parents, whether they are still alive or not. Breathe out love and peace to them, filling them with all the peace that you can find in yourself, and embrace them with all the loves that comes from your heart. And as you breathe in and out, breathe in more peace, breathe out more love. The more love we give, the more love we have within.
Think of those people who are nearest and dearest to you and breathe out love and peace to them. Give the gift of your loving and peaceful heart. Think of your good friends and breathe out love and peace to them. Fill them with all the peace that you can find in yourself as a gift from you and embrace them with all the love you can find in yourself, as gift from your heart.
Think of those people who are companions in your daily life and breathe out love and peace to them. Let each of them have the gift of your heart, the best gift we can give anyone.
If you know anyone who is sick or not feeling well, or anyone that is old and not very well, think of them and breathe out love and peace to that person.
If you know anyone who has a lot of grief at this time, breathe out love and peace to that person. If you do not know of any such person, think of the people who have a lot of sorrow having lost a loved one, being ill, having bad fortune. Breathe out love and peace to as many of them as you can.
Think of a difficult person whom you know, or any difficult person that you can think of, whom you might not even know personally. Then breathe out the warmth of your love and the calm of your peace to that person, filling him or her with peace, embracing him or her with love. Recognize the dukkha (suffering) in that person, which makes it easier to love that person.
Breathe out love and peace into your surroundings, knowing that when you do that your are adding to the love and peace in the world. Let love and peace from your heart reach out into your environment to all sentient beings, to nature, and to the night sky—reach out as far and as wide as the strength of your heart will allow.
And now on your next in-breath breathe in peace and fill yourself with it, and you next out-breath breathe out love and embrace yourself with it. And do that for the next few minutes as you breathe in and out.
Feel the peace settling in your heart and the love surrounding you like a golden mantle. Anchor both of them in your heart so that you have easy access to them.
May all people everywhere have love and peace in their hearts.
Sound of Wind Driven Rain