Tuesday, 15 May 2018

PRACTICING KINDNESS ON MYSELF, THE BUDDHIST WAY

Yesterday I had a massage. I needed it because for about a week now, I was grumpy from feeling rickety. A searing ache in my lower back meant that climbing stairs was a slow process and lifting my left leg to slide into the driver's seat hurt like the blazes.

It wasn't always like this.  For years, I lifted Nicholas.... right up until he was 18 and nearly six feet tall. "Hey Nick", I'd say, "You are my personal trainer!  No osteoporosis for me - I'm as strong as a WWE wrestler.  I kick butt!"  And we would both giggle at my ridiculous effort to imitate his wrestling superstars.

Regrets?  I have a few.  One of them is lifting Nicholas so long without bothering to use a lifting device.  We eventually had a ceiling track installed, but it was always so much quicker just to lift Nick myself instead of bothering with the sling.  Now, I am paying the price for thinking that I was immune from the wear and tear of repetitive strain. 

So, this week, on doctor's orders, I had a massage.  Karina, the massage therapist has the build of a long -distance swimmer and the manner of a zen healer. Karina's clinic is called Metta. I asked Karina about the meaning of the word and she explained that it is a Buddhist practice of meditation.  "Umm humm," I was relaxed, listening intently at this point.  "Anyone can practice Metta", she said.  "It involves the contemplation of loving kindness - the sort that you feel for your new baby. You begin by directing all that loving kindness to yourself, as if you are the baby.  You meditate to fill yourself up with loving kindness.  That way, you are ready to begin giving it to others."  "Ohhh", I thought. 




Here is how the Wikipedia explains the Metta practice:

The cultivation of loving-kindness (mettā bhāvanā) is a popular form of meditation in Buddhism. In the Theravadin Buddhist tradition, this practice begins with the meditator cultivating loving-kindness towards themselves,[7] then one's loved ones, friends, teachers, strangers, enemies, and finally towards all sentient beings. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, this practice is associated with tonglen (cf.), whereby one breathes out ("sends") happiness and breathes in ("receives") suffering.[8] Tibetan Buddhists also practice contemplation of the Brahmavihāras, also called the four immeasurables, which is sometimes called 'compassion meditation'[9]
So, last night, I didn't sleep well. That's usual for me - the effects of my age combine with the heightening of everyday worries in the early hours. So I thought of Metta.  I began to breath deeply and slowly.  I thought of myself as my own precious baby.  My thoughts kept straying to tasks, events, past transgressions.  But I will try again.  This Metta is a very good thing for caregivers.  Perhaps Buddha himself was a caregiver. 



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