My Wish For You

The following is my wish for you, wherever and whenever you happen to be reading this:

May you be filled with loving kindness, toward yourself and toward others.
May you be healthy, in body and mind.
May you live with ease, as much and as often as possible.
May you be and feel: fully supported, and deeply loved, valued, cherished, and cared for.
May you be truly happy, peaceful, content, and fulfilled.

Lovingkindness

The practice of “metta” or “lovingkindness” is simple, but profound. It essentially consists of silently, and heartfully, wishing yourself and others well. It can be done as part of a formal sitting meditation practice, or it can be done as you move about in the world in your everyday life.

Formal Practice

It can be very powerful to take time out of your day – even a short amount – and devote it to nothing but the cultivation of compassion toward yourself and others, or lovingkindness. If you are brand new to this practice (or even if you’re not), I highly recommend being guided through it. Probably the easiest and most inexpensive way to find a “guide” is to use an audio program, such as this one by Jack Kornfield (which I have recommended before and highly recommend once again):

Guided Meditation: Six Essential Practices to Cultivate Love, Awareness, and Wisdom

The practice goes like this:

Once you are in a calm and relaxed state, after sitting still for a few moments and perhaps taking several deep breaths, you focus your attention on simple phrases that you repeat silently to yourself:

May I be happy. May I be well. May I be peaceful. May I be free from suffering.

Use whatever words resonate best with you. Feel free to experiment and change them up from time to time as you find useful or helpful. You can use some or all of the ones I wrote for you at the top of this post, if you like, or modify them in any way that suits you.

It is typical to begin “formal” practice with yourself as the object of these wishes. This can be more difficult than it sounds, especially if you have a tendency to be hard on yourself. Stick with it as best you can. Things change from day to day. Some days the words might seem utterly hollow to you. Other days they might move you to tears. Whatever happens, and whatever you feel or don’t feel, it’s okay.

After you spend some time doing this, you move on to extending the same wishes to others. You think of someone who has been kind and nurturing to you in some way, and silently extend the same wishes to her/him:

May you be happy. May you be well. May you be peaceful. May you be free from harm (or suffering).

You then move on to someone you care about, perhaps a significant other or close friend, and silently repeat the above phrases (or your own variation of them), holding this person in your mind and your heart.

You can repeat this with another friend, and another, if you want to. Perhaps you want to direct your lovingkindness to someone you know is going through a particularly difficult time.

Then try extending the same wishes to someone you know, but not very well, perhaps only as an acquaintance, or perhaps someone you’ve only ever seen but never actually spoken to.

THEN, eventually, you try extending these wishes to a “difficult” person – someone who really gets on your nerves/pushes your buttons. Do the best you can. If this proves to be too much of a challenge, then redirect your lovingkindness toward yourself, since you are the one, at the moment, having a difficult time.

Then extend the same benevolent wishes to all of those around you – say, in your neighborhood, community, or workplace. Keep branching out further and further to include more and more people, known and unknown. (And even beings other than people – because, it turns out, there are many!)

And finally: extend lovingkindness to all beings everywhere.

The above is just a guideline. You, of course, can alter this practice in any way you choose.

Just know this: reading about doing this and actually doing it are two very, very different experiences. I encourage you to try it out for yourself. Experiment with it.

Starting your day with a practice like this can set the tone for your day, before you get caught up in the relentless pull of things to do. You can think of it as a means of calibrating, or recalibrating, your heart. Of centering yourself. Of setting a loving intention before you get distracted, and then swept away, by the activities of everyday life.

Informal Practice

During the course of your day – as you pass a stranger on the street, for example – you can silently wish him well: May you be happy. May you be peaceful. Use whatever language or word choice feels right and, to whatever degree possible, make it not just “lip service” but make it from your heart. You can practice this anywhere and at anytime. It’s easy to do. It just has to occur to you to do it.

Why Do This?

Why do this at all? Isn’t is pointless? What impact does it have? Is it anything other than, quite literally, “wishful thinking”? Isn’t “the road to hell” paved with good intentions such as these?

It is impossible for me to say with any degree of certainty whether or not silent wishes – whomever or wherever they are directed, and however well meaning – have any direct effect on the object(s) of these wishes. However, I will say this:

•   In a world in which we are bombarded with stories of violence, turmoil, and suffering, can it really do any harm to wish others well, even privately? Imagine if everyone silently and sincerely wished each other well throughout the day as they passed one another in the halls, on the streets, or even (gasp!) in traffic. I’d like to live in a world like that.

•   Even if wishing others well has no direct effect whatsoever on them, it certainly is bound to have an effect on us. At the very least it awakens us, in that moment, to the reality that all beings everywhere have this in common: we all want to be happy, and we all want to be free from suffering. As we go through our days, it’s all too easy to lose sight of this, as we get caught up in our own goals, needs, and desires. Perhaps practicing lovingkindness makes us treat others a bit more gently as a result. Perhaps it can be the difference that gets us to extend ourselves to someone else in a way we otherwise wouldn’t have, out of the slightest bit of added concern for that person’s well-being (in recognition of the fact that she seeks exactly the same basic things that we do). Such a gesture is bound to have some ripple effects. And, again, imagine if everyone did this, even just once in a while. How many heinous acts might be prevented if someone took the time to show a potential perpetrator that he was loved and valued, for instance? That someone cared about him? If practicing lovingkindness prevented ONE such tragedy, think of all the needless suffering that would be avoided.

While the practice of “metta” stems from the Buddhist tradition, it can be done by any person from any religious tradition, or from none at all. It is a way to feel more connected to yourself and to others around you. To be a bit more sensitive to your own suffering and the suffering of others. To open up your heart and access the kindness and love within it. To become a happier person.

May you be filled with loving kindness, toward yourself and toward others.
May you be healthy, in body and mind.
May you live with ease, as much and as often as possible.
May you be and feel: fully supported, and deeply loved, valued, cherished, and cared for.
May you be truly happy, peaceful, content, and fulfilled.

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One Response to My Wish For You

  1. Samatha says:

    You are often the object of my metta practice, the person easy to send warm feelings towards and stir feelings of compassion and good will.
    May you be cherished.
    May you be healthy.
    May you keep being mine (not very Buddhist, good old attachment getting a hold over me!)

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