Imagine Yourself (Charlotte Bell)
- "Begin by sitting comfortably.
Kindness is central to metta practice,
so it is important to be kind to yourself,
and to choose a position
that you can hold comfortably
for a period of time.
Traditional meditation postures work well,
but feel free to use a chair.
Because it is impossible to love others unconditionally
before we are able to love ourselves,
the first beneficiary of our good will is ourselves.
Begin by letting your awareness settle in the area of your heart.
It may be helpful to reflect for a moment on your own good qualities.
The first phrase is,
"May I be safe from inner and outer harm."
Imagine yourself as being protected from outer dangers
as well as the suffering that you might inflict on yourself.
Reflect on the meaning of safety,
the feeling of unconditional security.
There is no prescribed amount of time
for which you must focus on each phrase.
Simply move to the next one when it feels appropriate.
The second phrase is,
"May I be happy and peaceful of mind."
Again, imagine yourself happy and peaceful.
What is the quality of unconditional happiness?
Imagine your own joyous heart being at peace
with whatever is happening.
Next, say to yourself,
"May I be healthy and vital."
Picture yourself living in a strong and energetic body.
If chronic health issues make this concept difficult,
imagine yourself being at peace with conditions as they are.
The final phrase is,
"May I live with ease."
This is the simple wish that your life supports you,
with good friends, supportive family and a livelihood that you enjoy.
You can cycle through these phrases,
directing them at yourself several times
and as you feel ready
you can switch your focus to a benefactor.
Your benefactor is a person
who has supported or inspired you in your life.
You may in fact be able to identify several benefactors.
I've found it helpful
to spend several months with one benefactor
and then begin to include others
at times when it feels right.
Extend the metta wishes to your benefactor for as long as you like.
This essay appeared in Catalyst Magazine in 2002
Posted with the kind permission of Charlotte Bell
For Charlotte's whole series on the Brahmaviharas: