- TWIL (This Week I Learned)
This week I contemplated intentions.
There is an interesting phrase in economics: “Unintended consequences”. An example might be that when an animal is about to be placed on the endangered species list, it becomes more likely that the animal will become extinct because it, for example, if a land developer finds this species on their land, it’s more economically sensible for them to just kill all of them. Otherwise, the cost incurred trying to protect them will be prohibitive.
So. On that cheery note :) it occurred to me this week how important it is to stay flexible in our good intentions.
Sometimes the opposite of what everyone else is doing is the right thing to do. And sometimes it isn’t :)
“The right thing is usually just what everybody don’t do.” ― Willa Cather, O Pioneers
Something I am consistently curious about is this “What if” scenario:
What if we took the “Loving Kindness, Metta” meditation to heart? Beginning with ourselves each morning, we worked toward perfectly imperfect loving kindness toward ourselves, then our immediate family, our closest friends, our extend family, our acquaintances, and onward and onward to those we don’t much care for until we extend our loving kindness to those we consider “outsiders”?
What would our intentions look like? How would our behaviour need to change?
How loving and kind are you to yourself? To your immediate family? To people you consider “outsiders”?
Would your intentions change if you were more loving and kind to yourself? Would they change if you were able to extend your loving kindness further?
Time for a loving kindness (metta) meditation!
I recently witnessed someone cross the street who chose to gesticulate and yell at the person in the car who had just pulled up to the stop sign. That person chose to flip off the person crossing, who chose to yell more loudly…which caused the person in the car to become more emphatic…
Honestly, I had a hard time not laughing at the scene, even though I was crossing right next to the offender.
Certainly, the way our society is currently set up, I have a lot of compassion for people who lose it right before the 25th of December — unfortunately, a sacred, serene, peaceful time of year has been co-opted which can be extremely stressful and exhausting.
So. Time to sit. Quietly — somewhere, anywhere calm. Breathe at least five deep belly breaths in, exhaling slightly longer.
Begin with you and say to yourself something like: “"May I live in safety. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease.”
Gently repeat until you feel it — until it makes sense for you.
Move to someone you care about a lot. Bring them to mind and say: May you live in safety, be happy, be healthy, live with ease.
Call to mind someone who is suffering and say: May you live in safety, be happy, be healthy, live with ease.
Call to mind someone who has helped you recently. A cashier, a server, a stranger, and say: May you live in safety, be happy, be healthy, live with ease.
Call to mind someone who has caused you suffering and say: May you live in safety, be happy, be healthy, live with ease.
Each time, bring that person to mind, see that person in your mind’s eye, feel that person’s presence.
Now bring to mind all people, from all time, everywhere. All creatures, everywhere. And say: May you live in safety, be happy, be healthy, live with ease.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
The beauty of this meditation is that no matter where you fall — loving yourself a bit too much or not enough — you end up in a “just enough” place, moving into the world caring for yourself well so that you can care for your neighbour better.