A Call from the Heart
Whether we know it consciously or not, we are all looking for a way to find the authentic truth of who we are and a home where we can be exactly who we are in the world. The soft lure of meditation’s song is one the heart knows all too well. It is the call for love, the hymn of real happiness, and the boundless joy of finding the truth of who we are and feeling at home within ourselves no matter where we are or who we are with.
Beneath the mind’s reasoning or the magnetism of what’s trending in medicine or modern wellness is the timeless yearning to arrive home to the unbiased love and unconditional resilience in the heart of the present moment. This is what you are being pulled to—the natural state of unconditional loving awareness found already within you. And the way you get there is through uncovering your own good-hearted nature, a kindness as ancient and intrinsic as the genetic sequences that make up your DNA.
A New Way of Living
EVERYTHING IN YOUR life begins with intention. Even having the intention to discover your true authenticity, to become more self-aware and create a home out of your heart, starts out with a deep intention and aspiration to do so. Living with intention is precisely where the heart and the mind meet. This meeting ground of the mind and heart is where your authentic expression and greatest aspirations flow from, rooted in big life-changing love.
In Tibetan Buddhism, the word chitta, which is translated as both “mind” and “heart,” encompasses this intersection of the mind and the heart. Chitta is heart-minded consciousness, the meeting of mindfulness and metta practice, and the very place you will learn to set your intentions from. Here, each thought stems from your buddha nature and each gesture and act comes from a place of wise love.
I invite you to pause and reflect for a moment: What would it be like to live from a mind and a heart that are viewed as one? How would this chitta approach inform your daily choices and decisions and, even, their outcomes? If you’re thinking is based from the compass of your heart’s values and its authentic guidance, then every thought, choice, action, and intention would be based in the heart’s innate qualities of love, kindness, nonharm, and empathy. This is how we set our intentions from a mind whose home is rooted in the heart.
When your intentions are from both the mind and the heart, your way of being in the world is an expression of living your love. Ensuring to practice each day, even on the not-so-convenient ones, only makes you a stronger and brighter channel for the kindness and heart the world so needs right now.
Real change can be staggeringly messy, often coming on the heels of imperfection, the exposure of your unknown shortcomings and blind spots; through unexpected detours, personal breakdowns, or life situations that alter reality as you once understood it.
Born into this human experience is the intrinsic moment-to-moment constancy of change, so for our purposes during Kindness Now, it is essential to create the right conditions for real change. Genuine inner change doesn’t stand a chance against the preexisting forces of self-judgment or the ingrained habits of self-betrayal. Real transformation comes only when it is safe enough to do so, when it is free from condemnation, judgment, or the destruction of mistrust.
Day 1. Ground Zero: You
Your first daily metta moment is to pause at least three times and send yourself your personal metta mantra. Set a reminder in your schedule today for midmorning, lunch, in the afternoon, or before dinner to gently and silently repeat your metta mantra in your mind and with your attention centered in your heart.
Day 2. Becoming Your Own BFF
Continue to meet your thoughts today with an inner smile and practice becoming your own BFF by not judging or abandoning yourself when any of your obstacles come up. Metta is a muscle and a practice of growing your foundation of self-safety and support. It will take patience and practice, so be psyched to begin this practice of learning to befriend yourself and your thoughts starting today. And remember, you can begin again as many times as you need to.
Day 3. May I Meet This Too with Kindness
Learning to meet yourself with kindness is the gift of metta meditation. It is the medicine your heart and inner life yearns for as you are so used to meeting yourself with all kinds of judgment and past conditioning.
Today, as you move through the day, repeat today’s metta mantra silently in your mind whenever you notice you are being hard on yourself, judgmental toward yourself, or unkind in any way. Extend this practice toward anything that occurs in your day or to anyone. Focus particularly in the realm of unpleasant moments or feelings, or when things aren’t going the way you would like them to. Lean into your new metta mantra and train to meet all that is here with kindness.
Day 4. From Self-Hate to Self-Love
Self-love is a practice, and it may take some time to unwind all the years of relating to yourself in a different way. This is okay! The sun still comes up every day regardless of what happened the day before. This is a real opportunity to stay connected to your natural capacity for maitri by viewing self-love as a quality to keep tending and opening to. At any time during your day today, you can reimagine your beautiful, bright radiating sun of self-kindness and self-love.
If you’re feeling extra-metta-inspired, you can take cultivating maitri a step further today with this on-the-spot practice: anytime those old familiar feelings, thoughts, or tendencies of self-hatred stomp in thinking they will get their way, you can turn toward them with the confidence of the sun and say to yourself, “And…I love you anyway.”
Day 5. Moving beyond Just Me
As you’ve learned, metta is also a very mobile practice. Really, it’s a mindset and heart space you can cultivate even in your time off the cushion.
You may be walking down the street passing hundreds of people, if you live in an urban home such as New York City or London. Or if you live in a more rural setting, maybe you see several people in cars as you are driving toward town. Whether you see one person or countless people around you, send them the metta mantras of happiness and well-being as you pass them by. With a genuine feeling in your heart, silently say, “May you be happy and peaceful! May your day unfold with ease!” Keep wishing anyone and any being well.
Day 6. Your Difficult People
When we send metta toward our difficult people, we are not condoning their harmful actions or behaviors. We are working with the pain in our own heart. We are taking responsibility to heal and clean up our own heart so we no longer suffer due to someone else’s mistakes or harm they have caused.
Day 7. Dissolving Barriers to Love
Keep any and all insight gained from today’s meditation close to your heart as you move into the next present moments of your day. Let your heart flow with metta. Let it ring loudly with the joyful and well-intentioned wish: May all beings, everywhere be happy. May all beings in the whole universe be free from suffering and safe from harm.