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Tuesday, November 25, 2008


In the cherry blossom’s shade, there’s no such thing as a stranger---ISSA

Metta is a Pali word meaning loving-kindness or loving care and it refers to an attitude of friendliness, goodwill, and generosity of heart. When we allow our hearts to be filled with loving kindness we have a simple wish—May all things be happy.

In the girls class, we treaded lightly into the shallow end of the pool--when you are a teenaged girl it is hard to distinguish loving kindness from being "in love" with a boy. I wondered how this would go, many of these girls have not felt loving kindness once in their lives. One of the girls came into jail last night--she has been in my class 3-4 times over a 6 month period and has come several times to the studio class. She explained that last night her mom got really drunk, and called the police and said she was a run a way even though she was standing on the front steps of her house at the time. This fragile flower was arrested and brought into JDC last night. This flower has worked so hard since getting out, she is consistantly going to school and is holding down a job. This flower knows that love comes when you do for someone what they want, she may have never seen the kind of love that come from just having the privledge of becoming a human being. This is one story of the 10 girls I had in class today, and each of them brings a story of similar nature. What happens to kids who don't feel love--are they able to bring that kind of unconditional love into their hearts? Will they be open enough to fill the vessel of their heart with loving kindness? Should I even venture here--what am I thinking? All of those thoughts were in my mind within the first 5 minutes of trying to explain that when your heart is open to give, it is open to recieve.

Metta allows love to become filled in your heart at it's purest form--most of these girls know only the love mixed with desire and attachment. Born of great generosity, metta is a caring and kindness that does not seek self-benefit. It does not look for anything in return or by way of exchange, I will love you if you love me or I will love you if you behave a certain way.

I was hopeful that as we moved through our meditation that a small crack in the armour surrounding the hearts of these girls that they would understand that loving kindness is never associated with anything harmful, it always arises from a purity of heart. One of the unique aspects of metta is that it does not make distinctions among beings. We spoke of how when we feel love mixed with desire, this feeling is always for a limited number of people. Loving kindness is extraordinary precisely because it can embrace all; there is no one who falls outside of its domain. Although we may not always live in a state of loving feeling, through practice we can learn to touch it many times a day.

We moved through asana for about 30 minutes slowly to open the heart and bring the breath into the heart to help open a window, if only a crack to let the love that we are feeling fill our heart. The girls grumbled about everything, but I knew it was a protection, they made fun of each other, which I knew was a protection, they made fun of me, which I knew was a protection and when they realized that I didn't give attention to the interruption, they settled in and a transformation happened. We were listening to music--softly during the asana and a song by Alicia Keys came on "Superwoman." As her angelic voice penetrated the walls of the jail and the walls of the hearts of the girls the words were auspicious and resounding--"Everywhere I'm turning Nothing seems complete I stand up and I'm searching for the Better Part of Me. I hang my head from sorrow, State of Humility, I wear it on my shoulders, Gotta find the strength in me. 'Cause I'm a Superwoman, Yes I am, Yes she is--even when I'm a mess I put on a vest with an S on my chest--Superwoman." The girls began to sing, to the song and their hearts opened--and it was like a firehose was pouring out of them of the loving kindness that can only bring about pure joy! It was amazing--we finished our asana to the song, and as I turned off the music, the girls settled in on their mats ----and they plugged into that same feeling of joyousness that the was surrounding the room as their voices joined in the battle cry of "Superwoman." It was breathtaking.....truly.

I led them through the meditation, and as we came to the portion that sends loving kindness out to a person who has wronged you, their breath remained steady, and there was a feeling of grace taking over, tears flowed from the girls as they realized that yes they can release themselves from whatever grips this person had on them by sending loving kindness out towards the person who wronged them--they became Superwomen, and each girl in her own way grew a little, felt a little more at peace, and realized that yes, they are worthy of feeling love, they are worthy of giving love and they are my heros for walking the journey of Metta Mediation. Each girl in that room today is a hero, and I'm blessed and eternally humbled to hold the space with them.

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