by Robin Munson
In these turbulent times, when there is so much political discord and the noise level from our TVs, radios, Internet and print has reached staggering proportions, you might find – as I do – that it is important, maybe even crucial, that you take some time off from the cacophony and clear, or at least quiet your mind. (How else can you possibly hear the music?!) To that end, I would like to refer you to a beautiful little book by Jack Kornfield, a psychologist and Buddhist priest. It is called The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace. The book was written in 2001, just before the events of 9-11, and I have found it to be an invaluable friend over the years. I can open it to any page at random and find something that nurtures my soul.
His Meditation on Lovingkindness (beginning on page 117) may be my favorite section, so I wanted to share its essence with you. Here are the traditional phrases:
May I be filled with lovingkindness.
May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May I be well in body and mind.
May I be at ease and happy.
The author recommends applying these phrases to yourself to begin, and later applying them to others since “without loving yourself it is almost impossible to love others.” He also recommends beginning your practice of lovingkindness for fifteen or twenty minutes, although I find myself that sometimes – especially if I haven’t been practicing on a regular basis – I have to start with two minutes or maybe five minutes. That’s okay. We know as musicians that a little practice sure beats no practice at all, and with time and patience, we can build up our practice sessions. Just find a quiet spot, get comfortable, and repeat the phrases above silently to yourself over and over. (Or find words that feel more natural to you that express the same ideas.) Don’t worry if you don’t really believe them at first, if they feel mechanical, or if they bring up “feelings contrary to lovingkindness”. Be patient, and over time, allow these loving words to replace the hostile, angry words that are so prevalent in the outside world. As with music, “Practice makes Progress” (to quote my yoga mentor, Christy.) Om Shanti. Peace by with you.