September 4, 2016

Loving-Kindness—What I do Instead of offering it to Donald Trump.

offer hand flower give metta kindness

Since I first learned of a metta, or loving-kindness meditation a decade ago in yoga class, it’s been one of my favorites.

I can feel a profound shift in my body as I say the words, sometimes aloud, and sometimes just in my head:

May I be safe.

May I be healthy.

May I be happy.

May I live with ease.

Next, I move on, usually envisioning the sweet faces of my kids, my husband and parents:

May they be safe.

May they be healthy.

May they be happy.

May they live with ease.

From there, I offer these same well-wishes for friends, and then others I don’t know well but see often, like the clerk from the express lane at the grocery store, or the woman who I see walking around our neighborhood with a bouncy step. As I move through the practice, I can often feel a sensation of love expanding in my chest. The sharp edges of my morning—like the bickering between my kids, or anxiety over how much I have to do that day—fade away. Metta reminds me that we are all connected, we all deserve good lives, and to be free from suffering, and to be loved.

Almost everybody.

The more challenging part of metta—the place that offers some serious spiritual growth—is that after we’ve sent the wishes to ourselves, and those we love, and even some people we feel neutral about, we then offer loving-kindness to people we have difficulty with. It could be someone from the past whom we carry residual pain or anger around. It might be a difficult boss or a critical family member. By sending loving-kindness to people we have a challenging relationship with, we soften our hearts to them—and we heal ourselves.

It’s a beautiful practice. It’s not always easy, but it’s profound.

But there’s one person right now that I just can’t practice metta on.

That’s right. Donald Freaking Trump.

The moment I even try to wish him happiness and ease, my body reacts like I’m allergic. I get twitchy and my face goes hot and I just can’t. The cozy feelings of connectedness and love evaporate, and I’m left with a feeling of slight nausea.

I’m too damned shocked that America has gotten to a place where Donald Trump is a viable candidate for president. I’m scared of his temper, his racism, his misogyny, and his utter lack of political experience. I’m terrified that he thinks climate change is “a hoax” during what has thus far been the hottest year on record. If you’d told anybody 10 years ago that Donald Trump would be a viable presidential candidate, no one would’ve believed it—except for possibly Trump himself.

I’m so scared.

I want to be the kind of person who can wish him well while also hoping like hell that he stay far away from the White House: May he be safe, but suffer a crushing loss in the presidential election. May he be happy, and also undergo a dramatic blow to his ego that leaves him humble and silent. 

But the fear that simmers beneath my discomfort around Trump? That, I can work with.

So I return to myself, where metta always begins:

May I feel safe. 

May I feel hope.

May I feel empowered in difficult times. 

May I focus on how I can contribute to the well-being of the world.

May I soften my heart. 

May I turn everything that feels like a daunting challenge into a spiritual lesson.

Maybe some day, I’ll be evolved enough to wish him well.

But it probably won’t be until after November.


Author: Lynn Shattuck

Image: Lora Huber/FlickrMatt Brown/Flickr 

Editor: Catherine Monkman

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