Mon. Feb. 11, 2019: Abstract Love vs. Specific Love #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, February 11, 2019
Waxing Moon

The theme for Upbeat Authors this month is love. This week, I’m going to share one of the struggles I have between abstract love vs. specific love.

What, exactly, do I mean by “abstract” love?

What I mean is all that “love for humanity” we’re supposed to have. I struggle with that.

I like individuals. As an introvert, I’m not all that fond of “people.”

I believe on treating people and regarding them with a basic level of human decency and respect, until they prove they don’t deserve it.

I love my family, my friends, particular colleagues with whom I’ve formed close relationships, differently from each other, as we discussed last week.

But I struggle with a basic love for humanity.

I’m too much of a cynic for that. I used to be a romantic wrapped in a shell of cynicism, but the older I get, the more the cynicism is real.

Part of yoga practice is that we are all just fine where we are, in this moment. That doesn’t mean we don’t or shouldn’t strive to do or be better. But it means we are “enough” in this moment. This is where we are; this is where we start. We build from here.

Also part of many practices that work in tandem with yoga, especially devotional yoga, are ways to cultivate a love of humanity.

One of those is the Loving Kindness meditation. There are several versions of this, but the one I use most often is below, with different, specific focuses each time I repeat it. Turning the abstract into the specific, and working from the self into the larger world, I find, is helpful. It strips away the cynicism, even for a moment.

You start with yourself, saying,
“May I be happy;
May I be well;
May I be prosperous;
May I be at peace.”

The second time around, you replace “I” with a specific “you.” This “you” is someone for whom you have fondness, affection, or love:
“May you be happy;
May you be well;
May you be prosperous;
May you be at peace.”

The third time, it’s still “you” — but this time the “you” is someone with whom you have a fractious relationship, in the hopes of cultivating a smoother road for both of you. This can be challenging, especially in the early days. I hold that same difficult “you” in the chant for a period of days or weeks until I feel less resentful of wishing them well in the first place.

The fourth time, it’s “we.” This can mean a specific group – family, work colleagues, meditation group. I usually set it to mean my circle of family, friends, neighbors, contacts.
“May we be happy;
May we be well;
May we be prosperous;
May we be at peace.”

The fifth and final time, it’s “all.” This gets into the bigger abstract I’ve been talking about, about all humanity, or, if you want o go even further, all living beings:
“May all be happy;
May all be well;
May all be prosperous;
May all be at peace.”

If you start dissecting it and saying it’s not logical for everyone to be all those four things (which is tempting), you’re missing the point for the moment of mantra. It’s a wish to work toward that. It’s also a way to get out of poverty consciousness, feeling there will never be enough (which is what governments and corporations want you to feel, so they can take even more), and work toward prosperity in mind and tangible things.

Our minds are our most powerful tools. The Loving Kindness meditation reminds us of this.

I often say it for a few months every night before I go to bed, then give myself a break for a few weeks. I find it particularly effective when Mercury is retrograde, and everything seems to be all over the place.

It’s a way to build from specific to more abstract, so by the time you get to “all” — the all feels specific.

This is one of the tools that works for me as I work on myself and my relationship to the world, especially in these tumultuous times. I’m sharing it, because it might help you, too.

I wish you happiness, health, prosperity, and peace.

 

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Published in: on February 11, 2019 at 5:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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