By Lynda Shadbolt
Metta is a word in the Pali language that has been translated as boundless friendliness, general benevolence or goodwill, and loving kindness to everyone. There are many phrases that can be used and teachers often create their own to express metta. Regardless of the words you choose use, metta is a type of meditation practice in which one silently recites a set of phrases that are designed to open the heart and cultivate a friendly attitude towards oneself and towards others. The phrases can be very simple or can be more complicated. They are intended to be used in all aspects of your life throughout your day. For example, while standing in the line to pay for groceries or while riding your bike down the rail trail. The practice begins by offering the phrases to yourself, and then eventually extending them slowly to your family and then to friends, and then to people you don’t like or people that don’t like you, to people to the left and right of you, to the people in front and behind of you and to all beings. Metta wishes loving kindness for all. I recently had a teacher use a phrase that I hadn’t heard before. The phrases were this: “May I be healthy and strong. May I be free from enmity, sickness and grief. May I be free from mental suffering. May I be free from physical suffering. May I take care of myself happily.”
The last line of these phrases has stuck with me and intrigued me. “May I take care of myself happily.”
Who am I when I look after myself happily? What kind of person am I to be around when I am looking after myself happily? I find myself walking down the trail these days thinking, “May I walk Billie Rose happily.” Or while cooking dinner, “May I prepare my food happily.” It is a nice focus and reminder.
I think many of us are transitioning back out into the world after two years of being at home during the pandemic. I have found that using these phrases help as I take steps towards re-engaging. Last night, I attended the concert with My Son the Hurricane at Abbey Gardens, hosted by the Haliburton County Folk Society. “May I see old friends and socialize happily.” “May I dance for the first time in a couple of years happily.”
Setting the intention to be happy before I head out and reminding myself as I go, is so helpful for me. It was a beautiful evening under the big tent, the band was so much fun. These are the kind of evenings that nourish our hearts and souls and give us the energy to carry on and deal with all of the challenges that we face in our own families, in our communities and in the world. It is a simple practice that can have a big impact. Choosing to be happy in the smallest and biggest details of our life. ”May you take care of yourself happily.”