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Real Happiness Challenge: Week 4: This One Goes Out to the One I Love

This last week of the Real Happiness Challenge is about practicing Metta, or Lovingkindness meditation, which means meditating on wishes of goodwill toward a set of people or beings in a variety of categories. We wish peace, happiness, safety, and health to our teachers, to the ones we love, ones we have a hard time with, ones we really don't care much about at all, and more. And somewhere in there, ourselves. 

I'm a big fan of Metta, or Lovingkindness meditation. After I first was lucky enough to attend a weekend with Sharon at the IDP project, where we all learned it under her loving, funny, and unsentimental direction, I did it almost every day. One of my great joys was teaching it to an 80-year-old friend, and having her tell me it transformed her relationship with a difficult person, and that she had passed on the instructions to others. Metta is a life--and mind-saver. 

But as time went on, other practices came to my cushion, and I haven't done daily metta for a while. When I did ths practice this week (not every day, to be honest!) it was just what was needed, but not what I expected. It was immensely helpful to me in processing something really awful that I am responsible for. it helped me forgive myself and move out of paralysis into action. It helped me forgive one I love for being angry, and saddened, and confused by my actions. 

The openness and space of metta has room for both healing and for feeling the hurt. I realize now more than ever before that it holds pain and sorrow, regret and grief. Metta doesn't dissolve them, in my experience, but it gives them room to be seen, expand, move, and transform, or perhaps depart with forgiveness. And I wish I could get the one I love to learn this practice, in part perhaps so I can be forgiven (ah, ego! ah self-regard!) and in part so that person has the space to accommodate what goes on. I wish that with immense tenderness and a big sore spot.

To accommodate all that goes on--including all the hurt and all the love from those we love and those we hate--to me that feels like it's probably the aspiration that both arises from and gives rise to Metta. I wish that for us all, and I need to recognize a lot of space for that. So Week 4 is not the end, not by a long shot, for my metta practice. Real Happiness month ends, and practice does not.

IDP is participating in lineage mentor Sharon Salzberg's REAL HAPPINESS Meditation Challenge.  This 28-day practice follows the the program outlined in Sharon’s New York Times bestseller, Real Happiness for the entire month of February. We encourage everyone to join us; since 2011, thousands have participated in this challenge which will help you develop your meditation with support from the entire community.


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