Let My Heart Fly Open

Welcome to 2014. May this be the year that all your dreams come true.

BuddhaTo begin the New Year with the right mindset, I’d like to offer the following metta practice. Metta is the Pali word for loving kindness. Loving kindness, in turn, is one of the Four Immeasurable Minds taught by the Buddha.

The other three immeasurable minds compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh likes to use inclusiveness instead of equanimity.

The four immeasurable minds are considered to be the four highest emotions by the Buddha. They are not as independent as they may seem, and developing one of them helps to develop them all. For example, practicing loving kindness gives rise to compassion.

I have found this to be true in my own experience. In my early days of practice with these emotions, I began to notice as I felt sympathetic joy for one or more of my children, my heart would fly open and I would also experience loving kindness and compassion. These would develop into a feeling of peace and equanimity.

Let My Heart Fly Open

Find a comfortable position at a time and place where you will not be disturbed for up to 15 minutes or more. Make sure you cell phone is turned off and that your email will not disturb your meditation.

Begin with several deep breaths. Six is a good number of deep breaths. I often use twelve.

Spend about 2 minutes allowing your breath to become normal and withdraw yourself into yourself. You can even do a brief body scan at this point.

When you are ready, shower these loving kindness blessings on yourself:

May I be at peace.
May I let my heart fly open!
May I know the beauty and the radiance of my own Buddha nature1.
May I be healthy.
May I be free and happy – truly happy.

Now take a few moments to contemplate these verses and recognize your own true nature.

Next, think of the people in your life who are closest to you – your spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents and others in your immediate family and shower these loving kindness blessings on them:

May you be at peace.
May you let your hearts fly open.
May you know the beauty and the radiance of your own Buddha nature.
May you be healthy.
May you be free and happy – truly happy.

Please take a few moments to contemplate your loved ones and the effect these loving kindness blessings may have on them.

Now bring to mind all the people in your life who you know to be suffering from illness, loss, including loss of a loved one, stress, or anything else.

Repeat the previous loving kindness blessings for them as above.

A final round of blessings can be showered upon all sentient beings on this planet and for peace on Earth. Imagine the Earth floating like a jewel in the vast emptiness of space and use the above blessings.

These blessings, which I offer to you, are for your benefit and the benefit of those you love.

Please take a moment to write down and share whatever comes to you in response to these meditation practices. Also, let me know how I can be of service to you in 2014.

May you have a happy and joyous New Year!

Dr. Jerome Freedman

1Buddha nature is our inherent innermost perfection and purity of the mind, untouched by changing emotional and mental states. You can substitute “true nature” if “Buddha nature” is foreign to you.

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