Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: Does metta actually work

  1. #1

    Does metta actually work

    I've had a long history with mental illness, and as such have always found it difficult to maintain friends or a partner. Recently my depression has taken a turn for the worse, and as such I have been quite rude and bad tempered to some people. I know in the Zen tradition metta isn't really emphasized that much. But do many of you do it, and if so have you found it has made any difference at all? I've been told several times, most;ly by women, that the reason I can't seem to get a girlfriend is cos I have such low self esteem. I need some loving kindness, and have tried metta, but I don't believe it when I say it 'May I be safe, may I be happy, may I be healthy, may I live with ease', I feel a bit of a fraud. Should I pursue until something clicks? If indeed it does click at all. I once heard a zen talk by err Linda Cutts I think, who was quite critical of metta, just wandering also if others share the same criticisms.

  2. #2
    Hi,

    It works if you work it and it doesn't if you don't.

    Gassho, Jishin, _/st\_

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Redding California USA
    Hi Greggorious,

    When I first started doing metta practice, I had a really hard time with it also. For me, it felt a bit selfish and even a little weird. But, (there is always a but) over time, those feelings have disappeared. I find it has helped me be a little more open. And, there is a reason the chant always starts with "I". I would recommend sticking with it for three weeks or so and just see what happens. If, after that, it still feels awkward, give it up for a bit - maybe come back to it at a later date. That is what I did. This is just my opinion, so....

    Gassho,

    Shugen


    Shugen
    明道 修眼
    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  4. #4
    Hi Greggorious,

    Im not a teacher here, so my perspective is just that. I'm sorry for the difficulties you have had recently in your relationships. That can be very difficult.

    I think it may be very difficult to offer metta to others when we ourselves are so full of rage, anxiety and fear, maybe depression too. Weather or not Metta practice is useful or not, I have not much to say on the subject as I don't practice it. I probably should. I will let others speak to that.

    It sounds like you have a fair bit of stress going on at the moment. That can be tough. I'd like to encourage you to cut yourself a little slack. It can't be easy dealing with your depression, your personal relationships and on top of that trying to maintain your metta practice.

    Perhaps you need to keep it simple. Maybe just focus on your zazen practice each day. Let things fall into place a little more and develop a little balance in your life before you resume your metta practice. My opinion only

    Its hard not to take ones mind state out into the world and let it effect others. I know for myself having a steady and strong zazen practice often opens a little space for those times I feel annoyed at others, or at the world. It helps prevent those verbal slips.

    I am really glad you posted here as others who are going through similar will benefit.

    Now I will sit back and let other folks weigh in. All the best.

    Gassho, Kyotai
    sat today
    Last edited by Kyotai; 04-21-2015 at 01:12 AM.
    I am a student at Treeleaf. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. Gassho

  5. #5
    Hi Greg,

    Metta Practice is one of our encouraged daily Practices here ...

    RECOMMENDED DAILY Metta PRACTICE
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...Metta-PRACTICE

    I does begininglessly begin with ourself and endlessly end with all sentient beings everywhere, because one must take care of oneself in order to take care of others. (Perhaps this is not unlike the nurse or rescuer who must take care of her own health and safety in order to be around to help other ... for a drowning life guard is not much use to saving others). Anyway, you are one of the "sentient beings" too (and they ultimately you) ...

    Perhaps Metta is no more than a "visualization training" but, heck, it works to get Olympic athletes gold medals, so I think it works.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/sp...-training.html

    I also learned recently that the most widely practiced psychological therapies around these days are based, in one way or another, on dropping negative thoughts and emotions, replacing these with positive, balanced thoughts and constructive emotions. Well, that is very much on common ground with Metta (and Shikantaza as well).

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-Dark-Thoughts

    We also recently had a nice thread on whether Metta Practice actually works to "help others". I believe it does, and I say that as one of those "modern, down to earth" Buddhist teachers who doesn't fall back on hocus-pocus and abracadabra. Here is my reasoning on that:

    People often ask me if I believe Metta really works and is helpful, even across great distances. Well, I say this ...

    If one is filled with anger, hate and ill will, it is easy to see how that infects the space, situations and people immediately around us who must deal with us. It can even damage folks and infect relationships with family and friends at great distances, even if we only communicate sometimes. But further, it brings a bit more ugliness and separation into this world in general, and our doing so adds just a touch more bitterness to the society we all share as residents of the world near and far. These days, a fellow who does a violent act or speaks a hurtful word in one city far away can cause ripples of violence and hurt far across the world ... just open the newspaper or internet and you will see countless examples of this spread of the effects of greed, anger and ignorance like great waves circling the world.

    So, just the same when we bring a touch of loving kindness, sympathy, well wishes, peace, charity and the like into this life.
    More of that thread here ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post143650

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday (and offered Metta Today)
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-21-2015 at 02:51 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Hi Greggorious,

    good to hear from you, and thank you for sharing your situation with the Sangha.

    I feel that Metta works, and Jundo's expression of a "visualisation training" describes how I do it.

    To really evoke the feeling of loving kindness for myself, I remember a situation or a place where I experienced feeling safe and still.
    For me, this was a quiet sunny autumn day, standing alone at a lake with a nice view, having a sore throat which did not stop me at all from enjoying the beauty of it all.
    A scene of completeness, of warmth.

    Maybe you can recall memories were you felt safe and still, and recall memories of being at peace.
    Like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.

    It is a kind of antidote to how our brains work - were you asked to recall situations when you used to feel unsafe and not at peace, would that be hard?
    Not for me.
    So, by actively teaching our brain to recall and wish for the good things (for ourselves and others), we will hopefully notice and do more of the good things.

    That's my interpretation only.
    Metta to you.

    Gassho,
    Danny
    #sattoday

  7. #7
    I was, and still am, a skeptic when it comes to the 'sending' of metta to others without engaging with them - in a sort of intercessory-prayer-like or butterfly-effect fashion...

    That said, I have persisted with it, at Jundo's suggestion, and found that, regardless of whether or not it actually reaches the intended 'recipient', it can have a profound effect on the 'sender' (in this case, ME...!). It really can soften the heart of the giver, which can contribute to the alleviation of his/her own dis-ease. This in turn can influence friends and others (who might never have been a 'target' recipient in the first place...).

    I feel that it can be a very powerful practice indeed.

    Gassho,
    Anshu

    -sat today-

  8. #8
    I'm with Anshu on this one. I'm not much into intangibles but from the perspective of cultivating compassion for oneself and others this is a very powerful practice. From a scientific perspective the benefits of visualization and cognitive "rewiring" are well documented. I have adopted this practice on a daily basis.

    Deep bows
    Yugen


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Anshu Bryson View Post
    regardless of whether or not it actually reaches the intended 'recipient', it can have a profound effect on the 'sender' (in this case, ME...!). It really can soften the heart of the giver, which can contribute to the alleviation of his/her own dis-ease. This in turn can influence friends and others (who might never have been a 'target' recipient in the first place...).

    I feel that it can be a very powerful practice indeed.

    Gassho,
    Anshu

    -sat today-
    I agree with this. Thank you Anshu


    ..sat2day•

  10. #10
    Hi G,

    I am a skeptic most of the time when sending magical energies to the universe. But I practice metta everyday because it is a practice of compassion towards the universe but mainly towards you.

    Sending metta is accepting there are people in greater need than you and that you wish something is done to alleviate the suffering. It creates a good will mood within you that opens up your heart to the truth that you can actually do something to help people.

    Whether it's listening to someone, donating towards a cause you believe in or working with cancer patients, it all starts with softening your heart and opening your eyes.

    Metta is also a practice of generosity because you are giving your time and energy to think in others rather than in yourself. And practicing generosity always helps with depression. Maybe it's not a cure, but sure it makes you feel a little better.

    Hope it helps. Much metta for you!

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    #SatToday
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  11. #11
    Hi Greggorious,

    My two cents:
    It does not matter whether it "works" or reaches the recipient - just do it.

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu

    #sat2day
    no thing needs to be added

  12. #12
    Hi Greg,

    I think giving loving-kindness is a great way to open one's self to receiving it. "If you want love, you've got to give love a-way." Give it away to give it a way.

    Greg. May you be safe, may you be happy, may you be healthy, may you live with ease.

    I'm sure everyone else here is thinking it. Hope it helps you say it more easily/believably at yourself, if even just a little bit.

    Much metta to you, Greg. Wish you all the best.


    Gassho,
    Stacy

    #SatToday
    Last edited by Stacy; 04-22-2015 at 03:50 AM.

  13. #13
    Hello Greg,

    When I see the suffering of others I want to end it, in doing so, I bring them into my heart and remove that separation. That separation that their suffering if different then mine. If I truly feel it in my heart, it will open/soften my heart, thus I am more open and willing to help the people in my own community ... which is where help and engagement usually starts. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    SatToday
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  14. #14
    I just finished a course in positive psychology. Part of recent research is on a special meditation form called 'loving kindness meditation', wich actualy is Metta. Practicing this kind of meditation on a regular base has a measurable postive influence on bodily functions, but also helps you in being in a more positive state of mind and improves the quality of your contacts with others. It even helps making it easier to get in contact with others.

    What we already knew by heart starts to get a scientific base. If someone is interested in positive psychology, this is a good place to start: http://positiveemotions.org/

    SAT2day
    Kind regards

    Erik

  15. #15
    This is an interesting post and I am glad to have found it. I would just like to share that although I agree with all that has been said by other's above about the positive effects of the metta practitioner, I DO believe that the sending of metta and any positive thoughts to others DOES affect them "magically". It certainly can't hurt. But, yes, helping some folks in real life practical ways wherever you are is probably a good thing too .

    Just felt I had to represent the more mystical/metaphysical among us, even if it's just me.

    Also, girlfriend, no girlfriend?- have we gotten so picky about the nature of peace.

    Gassho
    Ishin

    Sat Today

    Gassho
    Ishin

  16. #16
    Hi Greg,

    In addition to all the advice on metta, if you are experiencing mental health issues and depression on an ongoing basis, I would highly recommend finding a mental health professional. (Just google for therapists in your city and call one, if you aren't doing so already. Or pm me and I would be glad to help you find someone.)

    While Zen practice is of course foundational, a number of us may experience mental health issues that are best addressed by professionals through therapy or medication.

    Best of luck to you.

    Gassho,
    Matt
    #SatToday

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt View Post
    Hi Greg,

    In addition to all the advice on metta, if you are experiencing mental health issues and depression on an ongoing basis, I would highly recommend finding a mental health professional. (Just google for therapists in your city and call one, if you aren't doing so already. Or pm me and I would be glad to help you find someone.)

    While Zen practice is of course foundational, a number of us may experience mental health issues that are best addressed by professionals through therapy or medication.

    Best of luck to you.

    Gassho,
    Matt
    #SatToday
    Oh yes! The usual advice here on such matters ...

    ... I suspect that Shikantaza ... in its quietness, in the total stillness and acceptance ... would be something helpful with depression, especially the kind involving "overthinking" dark thoughts ...

    BUT AT THE SAME TIME ... Zazen is -NOT- a cure for many things ... it will not fix a bad tooth (just allow you to be present with the toothache ... you had better see a dentist, not a Zen teacher), cure cancer (although it may have some healthful effects and make one more attune to the process of chemotherapy and/or dying), etc. Zen practice will not cure your acne on your face, or fix your flat tire. All it will do is let one "be at one, and whole" ... TRULY ONE ... with one's pimples and punctured wheel, accepting and embracing of each, WHOLLY WHOLE with/as each one. There are many psychological problems or psycho/medical problems such as alcoholism that may require other therapies, although Zen can be part of a 12-Step program or such (a few Zen teachers in America with a drinking problem had to seek outside help). Same with lingering depression. My feeling is that some things are probably best handled by medical, psychological or psychiatric treatment, not Zen teachers.

    My feeling is that receiving outside treatment, medication AND "just sitting" can all work together.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-Get-the-Blues

    Gassho, J
    More here ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post117020

    and here ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-Get-the-Blues

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  18. #18
    Dear Greg,

    Metta works for the one sending it for sure. If it works for the one 'receiving it' if it is someone other than oneself in a 'magical' kind of way? I do not now. I've read recent research that proves that thought / brainwaves actually influence particles around the thinker. (will try to find that research again) I've also read about that a particle that's split in half, one half on this side of the world and the other half on the other side of the world, behaves still like one single particle. Both findings suggest that there is perhaps no reason why sending metta would not actually work for someone far away.

    Also the Double Slit experiment suggests what zen buddhists have been saying for a long time, there really is no separation until separation is observed (and even then there's no real separation). If there's no separation, there's no distance or difference between sender and receiver.
    As I stated before: Metta works for the one sending it for sure. No reason not to do it



    Gassho,


    Ongen / Vincent
    Sat Today
    Last edited by Ongen; 04-28-2015 at 10:34 AM.
    Ongen (音源) - Sound Source

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •