Loving-Kindness Meditation Beyond the Human

Lovingkindness meditation, or metta, is a Buddhist practice for developing compassion. Practicing it over time, I started to wonder why we are limited to primarily wishing lovingkindness to ourselves and other humans (until the very end when ‘all beings everywhere’ are included).

So, I created my own version! I flipped the order of the traditional practice, so it starts with all beings everywhere, ends with ourselves, and includes more non-human beings along the way. Sit outside for this one, right on the earth!

Note: I struggle with reading meditations in books (or in blogs). You can read the whole thing first and then guide yourself through it, peeking when you need to. I hope to record audio for it someday soon so you can listen to it as you meditate!

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To begin, make sure you are seated comfortably. Relax the muscles in your face. Relax your jaw. Relax your hips. Release any gripping in the legs. Your hands can rest in your lap or on your knees.

Become aware of the place where your body meets the earth. Imagine yourself physically rooted into the earth and smile as her support simultaneously grounds and uplifts you.

Close your eyes and notice your breath. Observe each inhale and each exhale. Remember the present moment.

Now, imagine earth and all the beings on our amazing planet. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed or challenged, you’re doing it right. This shouldn’t be easy! We are going to cultivate loving-kindness for the earth and all its living beings with three intentions. You can repeat them in your mind, say them aloud, or just concentrate on their meaning.

May all beings and the earth be healthy and safe.

May all beings and the earth feel happy and at peace.

May all beings and the earth be free from suffering.

Now imagine a non-human being, or group of beings, with which you have a difficult, complex, or conflicting relationship. All the mosquitoes that have bitten you, your neighbor’s dog who barks all night, even an animal whose products you use or consume. We will wish them loving-kindness, too.

May you be healthy and safe.

May you feel happy and at peace.

May you be free from suffering.

Imagine a neutral non-human being. A creature you neither love nor struggle to love. A cow you drove past, the grass cushioning your bum, a goose on the sidewalk…

May you be healthy and safe.

May you feel happy and at peace.

May you be free from suffering.

Now, recall a non-human being that you love. The tree you used to climb in your parents’ backyard, a beloved pet…this one’s easy!

May you be healthy and safe.

May you feel happy and at peace.

May you be free from suffering.

Finally, bring your attention to yourself. For some people, this is the hardest part, but really wish this for yourself.

May I be healthy and safe.

May I feel happy and at peace.

May I be free from suffering.

If it feels strange to end with yourself, remember that ‘all beings and the earth’ and ourselves are not separate. They are us. We is one.

With your next inhale, receive a delicious breath from the earth.

Exhale.

 

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