Tonight’s THESE WORDS CHANGED ME come from the Buddhist maitri practice. Maitri means lovingkindness in Sanskrit. Here are the words:
May I be filled with lovingkindness.
May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May I be well in body and mind.
May I be peaceful and happy.
May I be free.
Some history: A few years ago, I began to wonder if meditating was doing me a disservice. I felt that, by concentrating so hard on a mantra for an hour a day, my inner critic was actually getting worse. And I already had a brutal inner critic that sometimes stopped me in my tracks. Resolved, I kept researching. I discovered a different, ancient style of meditation that supposedly didn’t make your critic worse. In fact, this particular practice was famous for softening the inner critic and opening the heart. It was called maitri or lovingkindness. I began to devote my meditation time to this practice. I place a hand (and my attention) on my heart. I repeat the above phrases over and over, offering the words as prayers, first to a friend, then an enemy, and then myself. After three years maitri practice, I swear I’m easier on myself. AND–get this–my chest actually feel different: softer. My heart feels more open.
Ya, I still fuck up. I still want to flip off drivers on 28th Street. I still give people a piece of my mind too quickly.
But I’m a little more mindful. A little kinder. A little kinder to myself.
My words here might sound crazy to you. But Buddhists in the East have been practicing maitri for more than a thousand years. I seriously doubt they’d keep doing this practice (and teaching it) if it didn’t work.
What words changed you?
Picture taken at Hanuman Temple at Kakrighat, India.
Brad Wetzler is an author, journalist, podcaster, and yoga + mindfulness teacher, and writing mentor. Brad began his career as an editor and adventure-travel writer. He served as a senior editor at Outside magazine and was a contributing editor at Outside, National Geographic Adventure, and George magazines. Brad has written hundreds of articles and essays on wide-ranging topics. He writes books and articles and hosts a podcast about adventure healing, emotional wellness, and faith and spirituality. His memoir Into the Soul of the World will be published in 2023.
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