I first heard about this practice in the early 1990’s. I was listening to a book on tape by Pema Chodron, a wise and present American divorcee turned Buddhist nun. I’d just started listening to her wise words and this practice seemed weird.
Later, I would, via the counsel of Sharon Salzberg and Sylvia Boorstein, realize it can be hard to wish yourself well. That’s where this practice starts. And, it’s an important step in the practice – to care for your self.
And then, I found Common Ground meditation center in Minneapolis where I could practice this under the guidance of wise and local teachers and in the company of earnest others. After the practice, we talked and explored the experience further. This helped settle my spirit into the beauty and power of this practice.
In the midst of all this Buddhist experience, I gained a similar instruction in AA. I learned that when I was in conflict with someone, I should pray for them consistently (even unceasingly) for two weeks before taking any action. This practice softens the heart and expands the imagination. The loving kindness practice nurtures a similar spirit. Though the Loving Kindness practice helps you ease into the prayers for with whom you are experiencing difficulty by starting first with yourself and then a neutral other. Both work.
Taking time to pratice on a regular basis is the key to deepening compassion for self and all the others; the ones you love and the ones you don’t.
Click here to find instruction and ultimately a link to one of Sharon Salzberg’s talk about the practice. Below are some examples of the phrases different teachers use – round one except for Pema’s. Enjoy the ease of choice in your words for practice. Choose what resonates with your blessed being.
May I be happy.
May I live in safety.
May I be healthy.
May I live with ease. ~~Sharon Salzberg
May I be filled with lovingkindness.
May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May I be well in body and mind.
May I be at ease and happy. ~~Jack Kornfield
May all beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.
May we be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May we never be separated from the great happiness devoid of suffering.
May we dwell in the great equanimity, free from passion, aggression and
prejudice. ~~Pema Chodron
May I be peaceful, happy and light in body and spirit.
May I be safe and free from injury.
May I be free from anger, afflictions, fear and anxiety. ~~Thich Nhat Hanh
May I be safe and free from harm.
May I have good health, mentally and physically.
May my suffering, and the roots of my suffering, be reduced.
May I experience peace of mind and ease of well-being.
May I feel happiness and joy. ~~Renée Burgard