Meditation, is it really for everyone?

by Jen Warakomski


How many times have you come across someone who said to you, “Oh, I can’t meditate! My mind is too busy”...or “I have no time to meditate!”?


What an opportunity to share with others who are curious, or even dismissive!




As teachers, we all have our methods for centering, rebalancing, and restoring our sense of Self. My methods change as I change, as I grow, and amongst them a meditation technique I resonate with throughout my journey is Metta Meditation. I love to explain to my students, friends, and family how I met Metta Meditation, so I’ll recount my experience here, starting from my teacher’s introduction to the technique.


There are many forms and traditions of meditation, and Metta is a meditation from the Buddhist tradition. The word itself, Metta, originates from the Pali language, which has parallels to Sanskrit. Metta translates to “Loving Kindness” or “Good Will”.


Upon my first encounter with Metta...I liked the sound of the word; however I found the practice challenging because of my own stories, programming, and wounds. Like everything we practice, over time, this changed.

It’s a wonderful awareness practice that helps to create space between identifying with feelings and observing our experience. Upon my first encounter with Metta...I liked the sound of the word; however I found the practice challenging because of my own stories, programming, and wounds. Like everything we practice, over time, this changed. Perhaps Metta is not a beginner's meditation, or is it? I remember considering this.


In terms of meditation, when sharing techniques with anyone new I always suggest...


One must experiment!


Meditation does not have to be formal, in a certain position, or even for a long period of time.


I find newcomers feel a relief to give themselves permission to not “get it”. Sometimes it can be a profound experience and sometimes it’s difficult - it’s all a practice.


I clearly remember my experience the first time I practiced Metta. My teacher began to explain the meditation and walk us through the technique. Metta meditation works in stages. (Although, as I’ve learned over the years, it can be approached in a few different ways.)


First, you bring yourself to your mind’s eye, and witness all of your humanity. As you hold yourself in your mind’s eye, silently repeating the following phrases, you allow the vibrations of the words to soak into you.


“May you be at peace. May you be happy. May you be free from pain.”


Slowly repeat these phrases, or iterations of these phrases, three times.


As you complete the third round, allow the image of you in your mind’s eye to fade away. I felt warm and open towards myself, compassion was rising inside my body.


The teacher continued...


Next, bring an image of a person you love to your mind’s eye. Observe this person you love, witnessing all their humanity, and feel how extending Metta towards them feels.


Repeat again, silently...three times:


“May you be at peace. May you be happy. May you be free from pain.”


Allow the vibrations of the phrases to surround you, bathe you. Swimming in these loving feelings, I recall thinking…”Okay, this feels good!” After completing the three rounds, allow the image of the person you love to fade away.


Now, bring to mind someone that you don’t like, or someone who is currently challenging you. See them standing in your mind’s eye with all their flaws and humanity. I felt a little shimmer of a thud in my belly. “Here we go,” I thought.


Repeat again, silently...three times:


“May you be at peace. May you be happy. May you be free from pain.”


My body began to feel a little nervous, “Yikes, this is not as fun as loving myself or the person I love!” As a low level discomfort set in and I thought to myself, “Am I selfish? I’m fascinated by how I’m feeling right now. Hello, resistance!!”


The third round then completed itself - it was a huge relief to let this person fade from my mind’s eye, I’m not sure if I even waited for the instruction to do so!


A suspicious thought snuck in and asked, “okay - what’s next?”


The next instruction arrived: Bring to mind an enemy. Hold them in your mind's eye and see them and their humanity.


“What?!!!” I felt my shoulders become tense. “I don’t want to!” “Do I have enemies?! How do I feel about the word enemy?” I asked myself...hmmm. Without getting too stuck in the thinking, I found one! But then wait, were there more?!


I decided to be curious and noticed how my stomach started to tense up simply thinking of someone who intentionally hurt me a number of times.


Again, I repeated - “May you be at peace. May you be happy. May you be free from pain.”


It was so uncomfortable...there was definitely physical squirming. I stayed and repeated the words as my mind began to get really loud.


The thought train rolled in and started saying…


”Did they deserve these words? Am I the one to judge their level of deservedness? Who am I? When is this going to be over? What’s for dinner?”


Thankfully, I was released by the next set of instructions...and rather than let the image of my enemy fade from my mind they were gone in a blink!


“OK, now bring yourself to mind again,” the teacher said.


A huge softness flowed into my body, as I softly exhaled and released the tension I felt spreading throughout mere seconds before.


Then, it got really interesting!


As I proceeded to extend Metta towards myself, I noticed some of the same resistance I felt with the person who challenged me rising from within.


“What is THIS I’m feeling?” I asked myself.


“I obviously have some challenges with loving myself. I’m getting more honest with what is coming up and although I don’t feel good I want to know more...hmmmmmmm…..”


I continued onward...intrigued.

I felt a softening towards myself. Tenderness. Care.

Extending Metta towards myself again, I repeated “May you be at peace. May you be happy. May you be free from pain.”


Almost instantaneously, a new level of aliveness started to flood my being. My inner space began to flow to outer space. I felt a softening towards myself. Tenderness. Care.


The play of my ego and my presence began to dance. My chest started to expand as my breath deepened. I saw my innocence. The little girl inside me smiled and I felt warm and fuzzy.


A tenderness came into my shoulders, my chest, and my seat. The corners of my mouth turned up.


“I LIKE this Metta Meditation...I think?!”


There, I was thinking again - okay, back to listening to the instructions.


The teacher gently suggested keeping myself in my mind’s eye and calling back the person I love, the person who challenges me, and my enemy.


All four standing were in front of me in my mind’s eye.


I thought, “Please, these four would never be in the same room together!” Carrying on, I saw us all together, everyone. I noticed the fluctuations of thoughts, emotions, and feelings start to fly in.


The teacher instructed again, repeat three times:


“May you be at peace. May you be happy. May you be free from pain.”


Suddenly I became the observer, I saw everyone in me, and me in everyone. Humanity in all its beauty, the light and the dark, the good and the bad, the perfect and the flawed.


I felt warm, powerful, and expanded. My heart space started to grow outside of my body as I allowed the energy of my intention to flow. Metta invited me to recognize that each moment is a choice, a decision, that I could take at any time. It dissolved constriction and welcomed compassion.


With an abundance of online resources and techniques, meditation is still a very personal journey.

I like to share my first Metta practice experience with students because it helps remind them, and myself, that we’re all beginners and, we’re all perfectly imperfect humans, too.


Meditation, in this case Metta in particular, is for everyone.


 

Week 4 of our Month of Meditation Challenge is devoted to "the heart" and practices like these. Join us Sunday October 24th at 8:30a EST for a guided Metta Meditation Practice.


 


Jen Warakomski is an E-500 RYT Yoga Teacher, Meditation Teacher, Hormone Yoga Therapist, and Reiki Master. She leads individuals and organizations on the path to reclaim their health, skyrocket their confidence, and amplify their connection to their highest self so they can make an intentional and influential impact on the world. Jen teaches with a combination of passion and a down to earth approach, guiding her students to effectively elevate their consciousness and life visions to new heights.


With thirteen years of professional health and wellness experience, and over 20 years of personal practice, Jen is devoted to personal transformation, holistic wellness, and conscious leadership. She’s particularly inspired to help people, especially women, take their health - and their lives to unprecedented levels.


After retiring from a 15 year career as a corporate executive in New York City in 2011, Jen relocated to Tuscany, Italy and founded Tuscan Wellness, a company that offers executive wellness events, teacher trainings, and retreats in and around Italy.


She holds multiple teaching certifications in Yoga, Breathing & Anatomy, Meditation, Mindfulness, Yoga Therapy, Hormone Yoga, and Reiki. Her work is internationally recognized and published in Yoga Journal Italia, La Repubblica, Mantra Magazine, Origin Magazine, and she continuously writes for various online health & wellness resources.


Jen is a university professor of Yoga Philosophy & Mindfulness in Florence, Italy, and she also teaches and coaches through her signature programs in one to one and group settings.


When she’s not guiding her students in-person or online, you can find Jen marveling at the fresh produce at the local Italian markets, riding her bike around Florence, or wandering through the olive groves near her home


Learn More About Jen

www.tuscanwellness.com

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