Sylvia Boorstein is one of the world’s most esteemed teachers of Buddhist wisdom and practice; she is profiled in S&P’s Living Spiritual Teachers Project. In this exclusive e-course, she offers a summation of her years as a preeminent teacher of lovingkindness meditation. Her inimitable teaching style is chock-full of timeless wisdom woven into her own, unique insights, and delightful stories.
Lovingkindness is called metta in Pali, the original language of the Buddha. Metta is a derivative of the word for “friend.”
“Although metta has often be translated into English as ‘lovingkindness,’ ” Sylvia says, “I like thinking of it as a friendliness practice, the cultivation of a mind that is so saturated with good will that it responds uniformly to all situations with benevolence.”
Few things in life are more important than benevolence, not only toward others but also toward ourselves. And this is where this Lovingkindness retreat begins. “The first recipient of wishes of my good will needs to be me,” Sylvia reminds us. “We need to feel personally at ease in order to pass good wishes on to others. Lovingkindess can help us change the habits of the mind and heart in such a fundamental way that every challenge in our lives can be met with greater and greater ease and meaning, which not only benefits ourselves but also everyone we know and meet.”
The retreat then leads us through a series of lessons and meditation practices that show us how to have an abiding good will toward friends, family members, colleagues, people we see on the street and in stores, and even those whom Sylvia calls “difficult people” — people who have hurt us or simply rub us the wrong way.
“Metta is not about erasing emotional responses,” Sylvia says. “I’m sure I have a wider palette of emotional responses available to me now than I did 35 years ago when I began this practice. I think we all want to be able to love profoundly and to respond to and engage fully with people and situations we find problematic on behalf of a more peaceful and just world. I’m positive we do that best when our minds are at ease and unconfused.”
The retreat runs from September 5 – 30 and consists of 12 emails, delivered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Sylvia shares her personal experiences and insights, along with ancient, timeless recitations that are said to help develop feelings of good will. Each email also includes a link to a short audio that has Sylvia’s calm yet lively voice reviewing the day’s practices.
Two other elements of the e-course will support your practice of Lovingkindness. On September 21 (7 – 8 pm ET), Sylvia will do a one-hour teleconference to answer your questions and offer encouragement. Then throughout the course, Sylvia’s colleague James Kullander will be present in the online Practice Circle to comment on your practice experiences and responses to the e-course from participants from around the world. James created the popular S&P e-courses on Resilience and Solitude.
This Lovingkindness Meditation retreat will help you live with ease and less confusion. It offers a well-rounded and expansive view of a universal human desire to love and to love well. (4 CEHs for Chaplains available.)