Metta or Loving Kindness Practice
(repeat as often as needed)
May I be happy.
May I be safe.
May I be healthy.
May I live with ease.
June, my favorite month of the year. It’s the time of year when Chicago weather is very beautiful. The trees are dressed in their splendor - fresh, lush, green leaves. Flowers bloom everywhere.
Itʻs been just two weeks since we moved to our new home. It is a home that so many of you have made possible with your generous contributions, and I am deeply grateful! Wonderful things will grow here in the fertile soil of aloha.
At our new facility, our Zen community hosted its first two-day silent retreat this past weekend. Fifteen people completed the retreat. Their strong silent meditation, mindful work practice - lots of cleaning, weeding and sorting - and gentle rest blessed the space.
I dreamed about hula on the second night. I think the dream came because we have an exciting performance to do at another beautiful venue - Frank Lloyd Wright’s newly refurbished Unity Temple on June 8th. Twenty one of my hula students and I have been practicing very hard!
Hula Pele, dances and chants for the Volcano Goddess Pele, are among my favorite. Pele is the creator of new land. The fiery magma that comes up through the earth and burns up everything in its path is a great metaphor for life - destruction and creation, redemption and transformation.
Pele brings the question, “How do we burn up what is no longer useful to us?” Fear is sometimes useful and sometimes not. It’s a good emotion to study.
What do you do when fear arises? Can you stay with it and bear witness to what is going on in your physical body? Can you notice the story you are telling yourself, and how it feeds the fear? Can you return to the feelings in your body - the knots in your stomach, the throbbing headache and just breathe with them. Can you bring your attention back every time it wanders? This is a practice of patience that builds courage and slowly opens your closed heart - often closed because of fear of being hurt.
Itʻs like Hi’iaka, Pele’s baby sister, who says “I will,” when Pele asks, “Who will go to Kauai and fetch my dream lover?” Everyone knows the way is difficult and fraught with challenges. All of Pele’s sisters are fearful and say no except for Hi’iaka, the youngest. She says yes and thus begins the mythic journey of growing up.
Opening to the world, to the knot in your stomach, to your heart that is racing, takes courage to pause, breathe and say yes. These are the very sensations that will help you practice with fear. Can you be okay with not knowing what will happen and bear witness to your knotted stomach and tender heart?
Such regular practice of meditation will help you hone your attention and work with your distracted mind with loving kindness. And if you can do this, you’ll notice a sacred place where love and aloha (compassion, kindness and grace) naturally arise - a place of sanity and basic goodness that has always been there.
Hope to see many of you at our performance - Hula Pele will be there!
Malama pono (take good care of body, mind and spirit),
June Kaililani Tanoue
Kumu Hula and Sensei