“Empty space and a flowing river” are alternative visualizations that work in the same way: space is not stained, and a river does not stop flowing or change colours. Of course, in our current time of massive pollution, “space, earth and river” may actually be overcome by what they come into contact with. Perhaps if the negativity we are exposed to seems likely to pollute us beyond our ability to cope, we should visualize ourselves like someone riding away into the sunset and gently take our leave.
This is the meditation of preventive medicine. In some streams of Buddhism it is traditional to begin and end every meditation session with something called “metta bhavana”, or “the cultivation of loving kindness”. In this meditation exercise you evoke feelings of goodwill, or love. You start with yourself, thinking, “May I be well. May I be happy. May I be at ease.” It may help to picture yourself radiantly happy and at your best. Then extend this wish out to others, starting with those you know and love and moving out in ever-widening circles to those you know less well, don’t know at all, and finally, those you dislike or are angry with. Visualize them well, happy, and at their best and think, “May they be well. May they be happy. May they be at ease.” Remember that if people you dislike, or those who have hurt you, were as well as you are currently wishing them, they would no longer be unlikeable and would be less likely to hurt you, or anyone else, again.
By practicing the cultivation of goodwill in this way you strengthen your reserves of goodness and begin the all-important work of altering your worldview, moving it into accordance with a deeper truth, one that reminds you of the latent similarities at the core of all human experience– that all beings desire joy and freedom from suffering — and this will help to clear your vision and your mind, making it less likely that anger will arise in the first place, and enabling your detachment from it when it does.
Originally appeared on Wisdom Pills
Written by Matthew Gindin
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