“Choosing to cultivate love rather than anger just might be what it takes to save the planet from extinction.” – Pema Chödrön
Today I want to share a meditation for peace from the Places that Scare You. Of course, Chödrön does a much more eloquent job of describing the steps, but I loved the idea. Make sure to sit quietly for a few minutes before you begin. As you move through the phases, pay attention to whether the ease of expressing love changes for each group:
1. Start by concentrating on happiness for yourself, “May I enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.”
2. Move on to people and/or animals in your life who you already feel tenderness toward, “May ____ enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.”
3. Next, think of a friend you care about but have more complicated feelings toward, “May ____ enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.”
4. Then, imagine people you feel neutral about or perhaps do not know well, such as a neighbor or a person you have seen on the street, “May ____ enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.”
5. Move on to someone who you dislike or find irritating, “May ____ enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.”
6. Next, envision all of the people above standing in front of you and focus on feelings of loving kindness for each of them.
7. Last, harness a feeling of loving kindness for all beings. Focus first on those close to you, in your neighborhood or city, and then let the feeling expand outward into the greater universe.
The power of this meditation exists in pushing our boundaries in how we see people in the world around us. I already do a form of this meditation in my classroom. When I feel upset with a student, I concentrate on how much I love him or her, which in turn allows me to detach from my less kind emotions and focus on the best course of action.
While it is not always easy to tap into this love, it is transformational. It is so tempting to judge and disconnect from others who are different or activate our emotional triggers. However, it is when we open ourselves up to loving kindness for all people that the world starts to change.
If this meditation resonated, I highly recommend Chödrön’s book.