Friday, October 14, 2011

Gaining Strength (for what?)

The second phrase in the metta meditation I am learning is "May I be strong."

Since I am working the metta phrases into my stretching routine, I do have a bit of monster-mind feedback. I lean forward and stretch my left arm out thinking "May I be safe." Then I lean forward and stretch my right arm out thinking "May I be strong." My right arm is much weaker than my left. Sometimes I can barely straighten it. The monsters are quick to shriek "you're not strong. Look how weak your arm is!"

An internal argument follows about mental/emotional/spiritual strength versus physical strength. (The fact that all these voices are arguing is evidence of some kind of goofy strength.)

The definition of strength uses the word "power" liberally: "having, showing, or able to exert great bodily or muscular power… Mentally powerful or vigorous… Able, competent or powerful in a specific field… Great moral power…"

If I was working with the phrase "May I be powerful," the monsters would really be hollering! [My monsters have no doubt that power corrupts…]

The definition of power, though is "ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something."

Like everyone, my strength is limited. Like everyone, I can increase my strength by practicing. Just as an occupational therapist has given me exercises I can do to maintain what I can of the strength in my arms, my meditation exercises will help maintain (maybe even increase) my emotional and spiritual strength.

19th-century thinker Henry David Thoreau wrote, 'It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?'"

It is wonderful that I am encouraging myself to be strong. The question is: strong enough to what? The answer lies in the rest of the metta phrases. My version is:
May I be safe.
May I be strong.
May I live with joy.
May I feel peaceful and at ease.

I am practicing to develop the strength to believe those phrases and embody them with every breath.

[Intrigued by this metta practice? Follow the work of Janice Lynne Lundy.]


Nicole said...

I love this subscription to your posts.

Kate Wolfe-Jenson said...

Thank you, Nicole!