New York subway metta practice

meditation

Metta meditation, so-called loving-kindness meditation, is very powerful to make better friends with yourself and others. Basically you send well wishes towards yourself and others by repeating loving-kindness phrases such as may I (you) be well, happy and peaceful. I know it sounds cheesy but it really is a wonderful practice when all those bit$hy judgy voice is going on over and over in the head.

There are many ways to do this practice. I recommend the book Lovingkindness by Sharon Salzberg to learn more about it. There are classically 6 categories of beings that you send well wishes to: self, teacher, friend or family, stranger, difficult person, and all beings. In the Buddhist scripture, there are 2 categories: self and all beings. Practicing with the classic 6 categories is a great place to start.

Anyways, I live in New York City and commute by subway everyday. This is just a funny way to keep going with the practice outside of  formal sitting practice:

  1. Count the number of stations I have to get to. (42nd St to 66th St on 1 train would be 3 stations)
  2. I send well wishes to different categories in between stations. (42nd-50th is self, 50th-59th is friend, 59th-66th is all beings)
  3. Don’t miss the stop!

If I have to go up to 6 stations, that’s great! If more? I sandwich with quick mindfulness of breath to start and end. So that’s 8 stations!!! Wow. That’s Queensboro Plaza to Canal St on N train… Sounds good to me.

Mindfulness to loving-kindness

meditation

When I started to mediate, I just stuck with mindfulness of breath for a while. I dance, and the awareness of body has been very very familiar part of my life for a long time. I still take ballet classes, PT (physical therapy) exercises, yoga, pilates… daily to stay in shape for the show.  Concentration is one of many things people get out of these intense physical training as well as discipline. And when I’m dancing in class or on stage, the music and everyone around really come together. It’s a wonderful state of mind. And I see it in other dancers too… just being there in the present moment. It really moves me.

And one day in ballet class I realized how silly we all look. All of us, grown-ups, just dedicating to bending knees and stretching legs. Also I realized how sweet and wonderful that is. It’s the same thing in yoga classes or meditation classes. All of us made time and came to do whatever it is together. When I realized that, my daily meditation practice slowly sifted to metta (loving-kindness) practice. I no longer felt repeating the phrases like a chore or silly woowoo  wishes. I genuinely felt the wishes to be well for myself and the others. I still do practice mindfulness but the thought I had, “hmmm, I’m just gonna stick with the breath for now,” really faded away.

May all beings everywhere be well, happy, and peaceful…