This week, after the first night teaching a meditation class of a 4 week series on opening the heart, I saw there was a message on my phone. I listened. It was from a woman who called just before class to get directions to the center so she could attend.
I returned her call the next morning excited to share that there was a recording she could listen to and encourage her to attend the rest of the series in person.
Here’s what unfolded:
“Hi Susan (I’ve changed her name), this is Angela Patnode…you called about the meditation class last night.”
“It’s too late now, the class is over,” was her quick response.
My throat tightened.
I replied as calmly as I could, “Well, it was 7pm when you called. I had the phone turned off as I was setting up for class and getting prepared to start at 7:15pm.”
“It doesn’t matter now,” she said and hung up. I tried fitting in a, “have a good day” but not sure it made it before the phone went dead.
I sat a bit stunned with what just happened.
I felt my body tight, my heart anxious, my little girl inside hurt. The old conditioning hurt of believing I’d done something wrong or that I wasn’t loveable.
I’m familiar with that feeling. It comes up in my chest like a tight ball getting ready to pounce. The difference is now it’s a lot softer and I’m aware of what the feeling is warning me of: the background beliefs of old patterns.
The cool part – I don’t have to believe them anymore. The body wakes me up to the old belief of it being there, and I can choose to respond differently.
So I sat. My old pattern would have been to get up and run around the house doing something to avoid feeling the discomfort, but I didn’t. Meditation has taught me to pause.
I closed my eyes and took some deep breaths and then what unfolded next was quite miraculous and surprised me.
I started to say a loving kindness prayer for her. Not because I pitied her, but because I was suffering in that moment and feeling angry and resentful toward her. I didn’t want to feel that way. I didn’t know her – at all. I didn’t know what was happening in her life or what she’s experienced in her past.
The words arose in my mind: may she be safe, may she be happy, may she be healthy, may she live with ease, may she be free. I imagined her being these things. After a couple of rounds, the angst in my body melted. Literally. It melted, it was gone. Any thought of blame or anger was gone, replaced by a feeling of compassion for her.
I saw her humanness, her pain, her suffering. It was no longer about me and what she “did to me,” but the realization of the connection between us both. We’re both human, we both have reactions and pains from the past. We both are made from the same energy/source.
This is the practice, and what the practice does for you and for me. It takes away the belief of separateness and helps us see the connection. Suffering ends when this happens.
Start today. A loving kindness practice for yourself and someone else. Say it over and over and over again, every day in meditation, or as you’re driving to work, or taking a shower. It will open your heart to help you see what you’ve always had inside of you: the acceptance, love and compassion for all people. This is true liberation.
Categories: Conflict & Forgiveness, Heart Centered Living, Meditation & Mindfulness