A Buddhist Maitri Meditation
by Jacquelyn Strickland, LPC, HSP
(first published in January 2014)
• Find a meditation time – at least 30 minutes, or longer, if possible. You know the criteria – quiet, uninterrupted time and space, preferably your own special area that may have that may have candles or a sacred feeling for you.
• Sit or lie down in a very comfortable position. (I prefer lying, with a cozy blanket to keep me warm – or outside in nature, leaning against a tree with the sun warming me.)
• Begin deep breathing, focusing on blowing all your breath out – as if blowing out a candle. Count to ten while breathing out. Breathe in deeply, through your nose; fill your abdomen with air first as you count to 8 or 10. Hold this breath for a count of four. Breathe out slowly, again as if blowing out a candle, while you count to ten. You want to create a very deep cleansing breath.
• Notice: You might begin yawning, or drifting off to sleep. Go with whatever feels best for you. There is no ‘doing it wrong’ here. Just keep practicing until eventually you can complete the whole meditation. If you should fall asleep — well, that’s wonderful — just enjoy your nap 🙂
Next, we begin the practice of Buddhist Maitri:
the unconditional acceptance,
compassion and friendship with
yourself and all your experiences.
The following terms are important to know:
Lessons to be Learned
Release to Love
Bring to your awareness an issue, circumstance or experience you wish to focus on during this meditation. It could be a person, a relationship, or an issue at work. ~~ Remember to use this meditation for relishing in your most wonderful experiences as well. ~~We often forget to celebrate the positive aspects of our lives and it’s important to honor those as well. For more on this see my article on HSP Interludes of Happiness here.
After bringing your awareness to an experience, begin to allow the entire essence of that experience into your conscious meditating mind. This includes all the emotions, thoughts and body sensations associated with the experience. Once you have the entire image in place, allow yourself to just embrace the experience in its entirety.
Embracing the experience is similar to desiring it … Just allow yourself to be in total acceptance, compassion and friendship with all that comes to mind. There is no censuring here. It is much like giving (silent) full self-expression to all that is within your conscious mind regarding the issue, emotion, or image that appears to you.
Acknowledging all that may be flooding your meditation is important … it’s like giving yourself the gift of being heard and validated. I sometimes experience goose bumps here.
Let this sense of acknowledgment grow and change into a feeling of gratitude. For some this might be difficult, especially if the experience is a painful one. But know that in order to be whole, spiritual beings (something crucially important to we HSPs) we cannot excise any part of ourselves or our experiences. And also know that all our experiences have something to teach us.
From gratitude you can begin to ask: “What is there for me to learn from this experience?” Be patient for these lessons to become clear. Be open to whatever comes to mind. Remember to be gentle with yourself.
Lessons to be Learned
Oftentimes when becoming aware of lessons to be learned, there is an awareness of lingering questions or confusion. Ask yourself what lessons you would still like to learn. Become gently aware of any remaining questions. Know that you can repeat the Buddhist maitri meditation again. The idea is not so much to get “answers” as it is to be in total acceptance of yourself and your experiences.
Release to Love
This is the final part of the meditation, and one of the most freeing. Note there is a distinct difference in the idea of “releasing with love” and the idea of releasing to love. Releasing TO love indicates the experience is now out of our hands …. it can be comforting to imagine it floating on an ocean of love, or joining with a higher power much great than your own resources.
After releasing TO love, there is often a feeling of calmness, acceptance and serenity in having accepted, allowed and embraced the experience you may have once tried to keep at bay because it was upsetting or confusing.
Again, remember to do this with joyous events and experiences as well. It can only help to create positive neuro networks in the brain!
Ending the Meditation
When all stages of the Buddhist maitri meditation are complete, slowly begin to bring yourself out of your relaxed state. Sometimes it might be helpful to set a soft alarm of some sort if you need help with timing. After a while, it all just sort of comes naturally.
You might want to have your journal handy to record any lessons learned or lessons you still want to learn.
And finally, do repeat this process as many times as needed, maybe daily if necessary.
Wishing you a 2014 filled with Buddhist Maitri – the exquisite acceptance, compassion and friendship with yourself!
With love, Jacquelyn