On Saturday 12th January, Leicester sangha met for the first time in the New Year. Our experience of sangha is growing in our home in the library and garden of the Quaker Meeting House on Queen’s Road.
Loving Kindness is our theme for 2019, beginning this time with offering metta (loving kindness) to ourselves. We began by sitting with this guided meditation and the opportunity to commit to it as a daily practice until we meet again on February 9th.
Later, as we shared our thoughts on practice and community/sangha, we were reminded of the New Year message from Plum Village. It offers us clarity on a way forward in our challenging climate.
Below is the Love Meditation, as practised by Plum Village. You also may like to commit to a daily practice and reflect with us on the path as it opens to us in the light of the Plum Village message.
Meditation – Love, Loving Kindness, Metta
May I be peaceful, happy and light in body and spirit.
May I be safe and free from anger, afflictions, fear, and anxiety.
May I learn to look at myself with the eyes of understanding and love.
May I be able to recognise and touch the seeds of joy and happiness in myself.
May I learn to identify and see the sources of anger, craving, and delusion in myself.
May I know how to nourish the seeds of joy in myself every day.
May I be able to live fresh, solid, and free.
May I be free from attachment and aversion, but not be indifferent.
How to practice:
To begin, sit still and calm your body and your breathing. Sitting still, you are not too preoccupied with other matters.
Begin practising this love meditation on yourself (‘May I be peaceful…’) because until you are able to love and take care of yourself, you cannot be of much help to to others.
Plum Village New Year Message: the full version can be found on the PV website http://www.plumvillage.org
Extract: Thay’s words of guidance are clear:
To take refuge, first of all, is to take refuge in the island of ourselves and then in the island of a Sangha. These islands are communities of resistance. “Resistance” does not mean to oppose others. It means to protect ourselves, like staying inside the house to protect ourselves from the weather. We resist being destroyed by society’s pollution, noise, unhappiness, harsh words, and negative behavior. If we do not know how to take care of ourselves, we may get wounded and be unable to help others. If we join with others to build a sangha that can nourish and protect us and resist society’s destructiveness, we will be able to return home. Many years ago, I suggested that peace activists in the West establish communities of resistance. A true sangha is always therapeutic. To return to our own body and mind is already to return to our roots, to our true home, to our true person. With the support of a sangha, we can do it.
—Thich Nhat Hanh (“Finding our True Heritage”)