Last summer a new neighbor moved in and he smoked. I was irritated by this because it was hot outside and I wanted the windows open. Unfortunately when the windows were open the pollution of the smoke inundated my senses. Eventually my irritation turned to anger and I found myself wishing really awful things on this person I didn’t even know. Things began to really snowball when I finally saw this person smoking in front of his apartment. He was scraggly and pale and I made up all kinds of scary stories in my head about him.
At the time I was learning about Mettā, also known as Loving Kindness meditation. Mettā is form of meditation in which you send love to all beings, essentially. I won’t get into the details (if you are interested you can find instructions here). I decided to send loving kindness to our neighbor. Mettā is hard to do when you are not feeling any love or kindness for someone. I certainly was not feeling any of that. But I still said these words in my head and directed them to my neighbor, who would be smoking on the front porch as I did this most likely (’cause he was a chain smoker).
May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you be safe
May you live with ease.
Like I said, I didn’t feel any kind of love or kindness toward this person but I said the words anyway. What did I have to lose?
The craziest thing happened. Not long after I started doing this our neighbor struck up a conversation with Raf. He heard Raf upstairs running his tattoo machine and asked him if he was a tattoo artist. Raf ended up tattooing him and they developed a friendly acquaintance. Eventually I chatted with him too when I ran into him outside our apartment. I found out that he was a really nice guy (not the scary person I concocted in my mind). I learned his story and have a great deal of compassion for him now.
When I think about this I am amazed. Loving kindness is truly a powerful thing.
*I was looking for writing prompts so I could have something to blog about today and came upon this fabulous website.
- Weekend meditation: metta (conscioussanity.com)
- Welcome to Your Mind (Part II) (blueflamemagick.wordpress.com)
- Defining Metta (keiththegreen.wordpress.com)
- Why meditate? And how to get started! (cozyblanketsnowflakerepetitioncompulsion.com)
- Metta: The Art of Loving Kindness (greenteakarma.wordpress.com)