Skinny Jeans, Broad Mind
I was sitting outside a dressing room waiting for my daughter to show me the jeans she was trying on. Another lovely girl came out and twirled for her boyfriend, who gave her new dress a big grin and thumbs up.
I could have been in Natick. But it was Belfast, Northern Ireland, site of non-stop violence from the late 1960s-90s, now teeming with great restaurants and a breathtaking new Titanic museum. And home to boys who deliver the Belfast Telegraph while dodging rain, not bombs. In a Belfast bookstore, I discovered “Paperboy,” Tony Macaulay’s beautiful memoir of turning 12 in 1975 trouble-torn Belfast. All Tony wants is a date with his beautiful crush and a ticket to see his favorite pop band - like any kid then or now. To me, just more confirmation that the edges separating us are blurry, if they exist at all. A new dress. A smile from your boyfriend. A fun night out with friends. We’re more alike than we are different.
Cultivating that connection is why my daily meditation practice these days is based on the philosophy of metta, or lovingkindess. Metta practice helps you feel that connection to all beings. All beings, not just those in your family, country, religion or political party.
Here’s a sample if you’d like to try it. Repeat to yourself (either while formally sitting or as a walking meditation):
May I be safe
May I be healthy
May I be happy
May I be at ease
As in all meditation practices, when thoughts distract you, notice them without criticizing yourself for losing focus and come back to the meditation.
When you are ready, offer metta to a loved one, a neutral person, a challenging person in your life, and finally all beings.
May you be safe
May you be healthy
May you be happy
May you be at ease
If it’s challenging, just notice – without judging yourself – and keep trying. That’s the practice. Just keep trying.