Yesterday I recounted a spiritual practice I sometimes use, inspired by the Buddhist metta meditation.
We all carry anxiety and judgment within us, and I’m certainly no exception. One way we express this “shadow self” is to mentally judge people we engage with. Driving home and someone crosses the street and we think “what a fat and ugly person he is” or “why would she wear that?” Standing in line at the store “I can’t believe anyone would be so stupid to buy THAT and eat it, how gross.”
Whether we know it or not, this negative narrative in our heads is harming us more than anyone else (See my article on nonviolence). The people who are the focus of our disdain can’t read our thoughts, so they don’t know. But we do, and it sits in our brain like a burr, stinging our better nature.
So my take on metta meditation is, when I notice this negativity running around my head, I try to look at everyone through God’s eyes. How does God see the person I just mentally dismissed? Fat? Ugly? Stupid?Or precious. Unique. Flawed like me. Loved by God as they are.
This is not meant to induce guilt, but instead it’s an amazing and freeing experience. That negative energy is extinguished and replaced with an active, life-giving compassion. Anxiety is replaced with a centered calm, and a camaraderie with humanity.
I invite you to try it.