Your Well Being is Mine
Our spiritual health is intrinsically tied to the well-being of others.
It’s true, isn’t it? We feel the best (body, mind, heart and soul) when we know that those we love are doing well. When our dear ones are having difficulties, naturally their plight weighs upon us. If we are spiritually healthy and well adjusted, we’ll hope that they will be free of struggle. We hold this hope because we are self-aware, mindful, and in touch with just how difficult it is to be a human being.
Bringing others into our experience of prayer or meditation is a powerful practice. When we first embark on the spiritual path, we may naturally focus our attention on our own needs and desires. As we mature spiritually, it will feel just as natural to bring others into a prayerful embrace and it doesn't diminish our practice one bit. In fact, by holding others in thought, heart, and prayer, we enrich our inner lives. We feel better when we are in tune with a genuine desire for others to be well too.
This is one of the reasons I enjoy doing metta—loving-kindness practice. For many years, I did it as a formal meditation practice, focused specifically on blessing myself and others using a series of four phrases of goodwill.
May you be happy.
May you be at peace.
May you be live with ease.
May you be free from suffering.
Today, I find myself doing this practice in a more relaxed way. I simply think of those whom I wish well and offer a phrase of blessing that is less formal—more in tune with what I really want for them in the moment. Some examples would be:
May you be free from pain.
May you relax and feel safe.
May you be free from worry.
May you know that you are loved.
May you release what is holding you back.
May you find peace today, even though your life is difficult.
And so on.
What I notice is this. When I can send good thoughts like these toward someone I care for, I feel as if I have done something good, and that helps me feel better about my own life. This practice also helps me feel that at least I have done something for another that might be helpful, because sometimes we can feel quite powerless when others are caught up in difficulty or pain. When something terrible happens in the world and people are hurt or suffering, we can transcend feelings of powerlessness by offering phrases of goodwill in their direction—even toward people we don’t know or will never meet.
Indeed, our spiritual well-being—having a calm, clear mind and wise, compassionate heart— is intrinsically tied to the well-being of others. Let us continue to heal ourselves by extending our goodwill to others. Heart to heart we grow.
- Today, think of a dear one who is struggling and offer him or her a “May you...” blessing of goodwill. Use the words/wishes that naturally arise in your heart. Notice how you feel afterwards.
- Select a corner of the world that is torn with difficulty right now. Imagine that your phrases of goodwill are floating over the area and dropping like flower petals imbued with love and peace onto those who are suffering, calming each person with whom they come in contact. Notice how you feel afterwards.
- Meditate/pray with this affirmation:
I align my heart with the hearts of others.
I feel kindred to them in their moments of difficulty.
I offer my goodwill to them, and, in doing so,
I kindle flames of love and blessing
whose warmth can be felt around the world.
I am you and you are me.
We journey into the heart and mind of the One together.
We are well.
Let the one great aim and ideal be to lift up and universalize our affection, so that while it is as deep and intimate as though it has but one object, yet it is ready to be centered on any person, to flow to any point of need."
~N. Sri Ram