During my career in Academia, I have noticed an unhealthy trend among students. It's the obsessively self-critical thinking that happens when students do something that doesn't go "right." They fall into the judgmental trap of thinking they are a failure or something is wrong with them.
Metta is the act of extending our love, kindness and friendship equally towards all beings, proving that love is more powerful than any negative force. Rather than trying to deal with negativity, we cultivate the opposite; seeing and knowing pain, we bring loving kindness. Then amazing change is possible.
We are worthy of love, acceptance, joy and peace. By shifting our perspective to one of love, we can easily recognize that despite our shortcomings and no matter our past mistakes, we are worthy of all good things in life.
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Social media has turned life and its experiences into an exercise in narcissism. No matter what the experience is actually about, it becomes about you, the person who is living it.
Try it out for a moment -- this moment. Just let yourself be. Give yourself permission to have the experience you are having, whatever it is, with no story about whether it is right or wrong, good or bad. Feel how you actually are. It's that direct and that simple.
At the most basic level, metta is an exercise, a training. It's a "what if" experiment to test how it might feel to strengthen my capacity for loving-kindness, to nudge my kindness beyond its currently constricted borders.
And isn't life just like that sometimes? You can strategize and plan your morning down to the minute and then you will suddenly and inexplicably find a giant, gasping, half-dead behemoth at your feet and you will have to decide what to do.