I got one of those chain letters today. You know the ones—you’re supposed to send it on to x number of people in the next five minutes and something good will happen to you in x amount of time. Usually I ignore them because I don’t want to obligate friends or create any more of a sense of pressure than we all already feel. But today’s was a metta meditation, which is traditionally a Buddhist offering of kind wishes to ourselves and others that generates loving kindness. My main spiritual practice is metta, so I couldn’t just hit the delete button.
I don’t know who wrote it, but here it is, with no obligation to send along to anyone else:
“May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love. It is there for each and every one of us.”
I can’t promise you that good things will happen if you say it or send it, except that you’ll grow your compassion for yourself and others—and that’s a wonderful thing all by itself.
However, in his teachings, the Buddha did say that those who practice the Metta Sutta on a regular basis will gain eleven blessings: 1) You will sleep easily. 2) You will wake easily. 3) You will have pleasant dreams. 4) People will love you. 5) Devas (celestial beings) and animals will love you. 6) Devas will protect you. 7) External dangers (poisons, weapons, and fire) will not harm you. 8) Your face will be radiant. 9) Your mind will be serene. 10) You will die unconfused. 11) You will be reborn in happy realms.
Sounds incredible, doesn’t it? If you’d like scientific verification, Professor Barbara Friedrickson has studied metta and found that practicing daily increases happiness in an increasingly upward spiral.
If you’d like to learn how to do metta practice, you can find instructions at: Info.med.yale.edu/psych/3s/metta.html. And Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg has written a wonderful book on the topic called Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness.