This one was the only meditation in the book that I found a little alien and uncomfortable. The only reason was this idea of imagining yourself at the enter of a circle of the most loving beings you can think of. I think the first clue that I need to practice in this manner was this uncomfortable feeling. The second was the very telling fact hat I had a hard time thinking of who would form this circle. The first couple were easy. Siddartha Gautama, Thich Nhat Hanh, The Dalai Lama and so on. I added a few other leaders of the world who were known for their compassion. They were easy because there aren't many. Then, I thought I would add some I knew personally. That's when the discomfort returned.
It's very easy to imagine the cheerful smile and goggly glasses of HHTD wishing me well, but when I thought of some of the people closest to me, I didn't think I could imagine them being purely loving toward me. This is disturbing because there are certain people you should be able to automatically count on for unconditional love. Right?!
The first sign of trouble was when my Dad popped to mind but my Mom didn't. I won't divulge the list, in it's final form, here but it was interesting enough that it bears my returning to it later to practice the LovingKindness meditations on the folks who didn't make the cut! ;-)
With my list complete, I settled in and began with breath meditation and some Metta phrases for myself. After a bit, I imagined the people of the circle giving me their full attention and loving regard. Some of those people are some of you reading this now. I envisioned the easiest one first. Sid. Can't imagine him having anything but loving regard for anyone, right?! Then Thich Nhat Hanh, HHTD and so forth.
You choose three or four phrases like the ones we've been using to have these beings offer to you. These should be big, broad phrases in their scope. Then imagine the beings in the circle offering you these phrases with all of their regard and love. I chose these:
May you be free of suffering.
May you be happy.
May you be at ease.
May you be at peace.
May you love and be loved.
The book warns that this may be uncomfortable, but I didn't find it so. Then it says to let whatever emotions arise pass through you without pursuing them. This is a little harder, but still was fairly comfortable for me, perhaps because of my daily practice. Perhaps it would be more difficult if I didn't already have a daily practice in place.
Simply practice this receiving of love from people wishing you love for as long as you like and when you are ready, you end the practice.
With this beautiful and simple practice, I brought the practices provided for the Real Happiness 28 Day Meditation Challenge to a close. Tomorrow I will practice a core sitting meditation while reflecting on the month.