Kind Promise: I will appreciate blessings.

PaintingEvery day. I practice two shifts of blessings. I am inspired by Buddhist metta loving kindness meditation.

First thing in the morning, I begin by lying in bed thinking:

May I be safe.
May I be strong.
May I live with joy.
May I be peaceful and at ease.

I cycle through again, thinking about the meaning of these phrases.

May I be safe.
If I am feeling safe, I will not spend time worrying. My actions will be motivated by love, not driven by fear.
May I be strong.
Physically strong would be nice, but is not possible in this body. Instead, I want to practice an inner strength and resilience that enables me to take what comes and use it to generate compassion and encouragement for myself and others.
May I live with joy.
I want to notice what brings me joy, move toward more of it, sink into it. This requires me to live in the present moment.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
If I practice the first three, this takes care of itself. This blessing is also only possible in this moment. It is when I lose myself in worries about the future that I get uneasy.

In the mornings, I alternate between wishing this blessing for myself and wishing it for all beings.

May all beings be safe.
May all beings be strong.
May all beings live with joy.
May all beings be peaceful and at ease.

Lying in bed at night before I go to sleep, I expand my blessings practice. As someone who was raised in the Christian faith, I have the urge to “pray for people.” I no longer believe in a God who micromanages the world, healing some but not others, saving some tribes from disaster, but not others. My God, these days, is the “ground of being” (Tillich), a force that connects everything and is in everything (Lucas). It is not anything that answers requests. Still, I have the instinct to pray.

I think blessings for myself, then for those who inspire me, for individuals in my close family, for people who I know are facing difficult times, for an enemy (this varies between people who seem difficult to me and people who seem to be promoting evil in the world) and finally, for all beings.

May all beings be safe. (I envision a polar bear and her cub.)
May all beings be strong. (I envision a whale breaching.)
May all beings live with joy. (I envision a dolphin, playing with bubbles.)
May all beings be peaceful and at ease. (I envision a sea otter, his lunch on his belly.)

During this time, I have to practice practicing. My mind drifts off onto other things. I gently bring it back to blessings. Over and over, I practice forgiving myself (for losing focus) and bring my attention back to my blessings, giving myself a fresh start.

I have been doing this enough, now, that, left to its own devices, my mind begins to run blessing phrases. Now the prayer prays itself.