Do This Metta Meditation; Then Go Raise Hell.
This morning in class we flowed through the usual vinyasa and settled in for our final meditation before savasana. My heart’s been heavy, my anger fierce in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Like many of us, I feel simultaneously powerless and terrified and irate. So we offered the one thing I know how to do in those overwhelming moments of heartbreak: a metta meditation.
If you, too, are feeling heavy and heartache-y over this latest unconscionable carnage, do this metta meditation; then go raise hell.
Find a comfortable seat. Close your eyes, or leave them softly half-open. Let your belly get loose and soft, your breath deep and slow.
Start gently, by bringing to mind the face of someone you love so much you can barely stand it. Someone who walks into the room and lights up your life; someone for whom your heart beats. Picture their face and offer them this simple blessing:
May you, beloved, be safe and free from suffering. May you find peace.
Sit with the stillness that follows, deepening into your slowing breath.
When you are ready, repeat this exercise, next for someone about whom you feel very neutral. (Someone like your mail carrier, or the bus driver you see every morning on the way to work.)
Offer the same blessing, and continue to stay with whatever arises.
Now, bring to mind the faces of those for whom Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday will forever now be occasions for mourning, anniversaries of the kind of inconceivable grief we all pray we might never bear. Offer your stillness, your softness, as you picture those aching faces and torn bodies, and send them this quiet blessing:
May you, dear ones, be safe and free from suffering. May you have peace.
Sit quietly with the spaciousness, the emptiness that follows. Notice what it does to your heart. Repeat it again:
May you, dear brothers and sisters, be safe and free from suffering. May you have peace.
Continue offering this simple prayer, finally turning it to include yourself, and then sitting in stillness watching the breath until your meditation feels complete.
If you are willing to sit with the complexity a bit further, turn your attention to the President, to the shooter, to the NRA, to the teachers and administrators who went to work today in fear, and to the parents who held their children extra close this morning at school drop-off, and repeat for each of these people.
Then get up from your cushion and call every single goddamned politician you can until these firearms are no longer available to terrorize our public spaces of worship, of learning, of celebration. This carnage is unacceptable; your anger, justified.
The fallacy is only ever in thinking we are separate. Your suffering is mine. I carry it now.
Rachel Meyer is a Boston-based writer and yoga teacher. Her work has appeared in The
Washington Post, On Being, Yoga Journal, Tricycle, Yoga International, HuffPost, and more. You can find her at www.rachelmeyeryoga.com or @rachelmeyeryoga.