Peace begins with me. Reconciliation begins with me. Healing begins with me. So when you practice deep breathing and smiling to the pain in you, and vow to begin anew, when you practice loving kindness, taking care of your pain and suffering, you are already practicing taking care of the other person. -Thich Nhat Hanh from HappinessBy: Parallax Press
I wonder how many times in the past I have been so busy with my life, so busy making a living or trying to take care of someone else that I have forgotten to take care of myself. Several weeks ago I started walking each day. I set my alarm at 5:30 and am on the road by 5:45. I started out walking 3 miles, now I’m up to 5.
But my walking program has turned into more than just exercise. Even though I walk at a brisk pace, it becomes a walking meditation. I breathe in the morning air – the coolest it will be for the day. I smile at the sun peeping up over treetops and welcome the slightest breeze. I breathe in deeply at the joy and wonder of this one precious life. I am delighted by birds showering in early morning sprinklers, or darting through the sky singing in the day. My morning walk has become another part of my practice, one that seldom gets avoided because it’s the first thing I do each day. As I walk I repeat a short version of the Metta Meditation;
May I be at peace, may my heart remain open,
May I awaken to the light of my own true nature,
May I be healed,
May I be a source of healing for all others.
I repeat the meditation many times for myself. And then I repeat it for my dearest loved ones, each time picturing his or her face as I say their name. Then I repeat the meditation for my friends, extended family, neighbors, state, nation. I try to remember the leaders of our country, all of them, not just the one’s whose politics I like, as well as the leaders of all countries. I repeat the meditation over and over again for all living beings – and especially for any whom I might once have considered my enemy or who might still consider me theirs. Finally I repeat the meditation for all animals, insects, birds, fish – living creatures of any kind, and then for all plants that grow, including trees, grass, shrubs, weeds, flowers, any member of any plant family. Finally I repeat the meditation for Mother Earth herself, her soil, her rocks, deep caves, her core, her mountains and valleys, her sources of water, her many natural wonders. Then I repeat the meditation once again for the Universe – known and unknown.
As I repeat the meditation I feel my heart expand to include all beings and I feel my connection with each one. I feel my own worries, fears and negative thoughts drop away. I feel fully grounded, alive and grateful, prepared to accept whatever the day happens to bring my way.