Loving-kindness meditation for a new era

Dear President Biden,

It was a tiny thing that took less than two or three seconds, but it was immensely satisfying just now to move the final mega-document containing my copies of the letters to President Trump off of my desktop screen and into the “Blog Materials” folder where I keep all the stuff related to the letter writing and the blog where I posted those daily letters. I am blogging my letters to you as well, but I’m going to make a fresh folder for you and you already have your own Word document and your own WordPress site. After all, it’s a new day dawning and all that wonderful stuff.

Last night it was great to see a wholly refurbished whitehouse.gov contact page – the light blue your designer chose is lovely and the information template is well laid out and easy to use. My mom is losing her eyesight and I’m keenly aware of what is and isn’t easy for her to see/read so it’s great that there’s the option for a high contrast version of the template. Very thoughtful.

It’s pretty darn exciting to be re-casting and re-shaping both my loving-kindness meditation practice and this therapeutic writing practice that I started in the early days of DJT’s presidency as a way to hold onto my humanity and to remind myself to put down the hot coals I kept picking up in my anger at him. I started the LKM practice right after his inauguration when it became painfully apparent that DJT had become “my most difficult person” and I incorporated him into what is essentially my daily prayer practice of sending loving-kindness meditation intentions to a slew of people, including my most difficult person. About three-weeks later, I started writing down the prayers (and additional commentary) and sending them to him.

If you’re not familiar with loving-kindness meditation (LKM) or “metta” in Pali, it was the first kind of meditation that the Buddha taught his monks when they were afraid to go into the forest to meditate. Fairly recently I realized that it’s not that LKM dispels fear or inoculates one against fear, but rather that when we’re invoking love and kindness for ourselves and others we feel better equipped to face fear and not be derailed by it. It’s sort of like we’re calling in all the angels and then sending them out to visit safety, happiness, strength, health, and peace on everyone. I actually formally study the effects of LKM in therapeutic contexts (i.e., for PTSD and addictions), have practice it for years and years, and only very recently pieced this together. I suppose I sort of have DJT to thank for this insight since he so frequently scared me to the point where all I could do was recite an LKM prayer for him. Eventually I saw that the prayer helped prop me up even if it didn’t rid me of my (very rational) fears.

This morning on my walk, I decided to switch out DJT and will instead cycle through various Fox Talking Heads and dark money sources as my most difficult people. I started with Tucker Carlson – I’m not sure why he popped in first, but he did, so he was tagged it. I also added in a new set of folks right before the “all beings” recitation – you, Kamala, Stacey Abrams, and everyone who’s putting themselves on the line to keep this fragile democracy glued together.

We’re all still wandering around in the dark forest and it’s really scary in here. We got through yesterday with no violence – no literal shots were fired, you and Kamala were unharmed and still smiling at the end of the day. But I don’t know that we’re ever going to be comfortable seeing either of you out and about in public. And yet…. You both shine when you’re with US and I think we’re going to have to somehow balance real safety concerns with real needs to connect so I’ll keep saying LKM prayers for you both and for all of us.

May we all be safe from harm and may we not be paralyzed by fear.
May we set about claiming happiness, justice, and liberty for all.
May we muster all the strength we need to make our way through and out of the forest.
May we establish and follow paths that bring honor to us all.

Tracy Simpson

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