Month of Metta – Retrospective

Well, I did it. I practiced metta every day for a month. I wasn’t really sure what (if anything) to expect, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised. On the macro level, I feel that my capacity to love those close to me has definitely increased. Also, my attitude towards certain politicians has softened a bit. I can’t say I agree with their policies, but I have leaned to recognize that they too are human beings and that they want to be happy just like me.

On a more personal level, I noticed some new physical sensations after doing metta for a couple of weeks. First of all, during most sits, I began to feel a warmth in the area of my heart which would gradually expand outward to fill my entire body as I continued to repeat the phrases. I am someone who lives mostly in my own head, so having a felt sense of loving-kindness in my body was a welcome surprise.  The other thing worth noting (and this only happened once during the entire month), was that I felt something akin to a layer of “armor” around my heart dissolving/shattering. I did some reading about this experience, and apparently although the physical sensation is similar to what one feels during a heart attack, what is really happening is that the heart is opening and becoming more receptive.

This morning, when I returned to my normal practice of observing the breath and mentally noting distractions, I felt much more centered and concentrated than I remember feeling before my month of metta.  I would highly recommend to anyone that is feeling stuck in their practice that they change things up for a little bit and give metta a chance to crack open your heart.

Conceit

“In Buddhist psychology “conceit” has a special meaning: that activity of the mind that compares itself with others. When we think about ourselves as better than, equal to, or worse than someone else, we are giving expression to conceit. This comparing mind is called conceit because all forms of it—whether it is “I’m better than” or “I’m worse than,” or “I’m just the same as”—come from the hallucination that there is a self; they all refer back to a feeling of self, of “I am.” ” 


– Joseph Goldstein