As I find myself swimming from interview to interview, I figured others might be interested in this little piece of advice I got a couple weeks ago. My phone rang as I was driving over to a job interview across town, and it was my friend R on the line. He told me, “You’ve got to do metta.”
I’d first met R at Wat Mettavanaram (Metta Forest Monastery), and we’d clicked so well that I offered to give him a ride back a few hours up the coast. On the way, we talked about our experiences in meditation, as well as our setbacks and determination to still move forward with our practice. As I’m sure any longtime practitioner can attest, it’s a very special occasion to meet someone who’s walked the same path that you have. Then we talked about metta bhavana or loving kindness meditation. I admitted to R that although I try to do it as much as I can, it’s not the core of my practice.
“Man, you’ve got to do metta,” he said. (I swear he says more than this.)
In the past couple of months, I’ve really let my practice fall to the wayside. Focusing on other things didn’t really help me out though. I’ve been pursuing a certain job since June, and I’ve only just now completed the interview process. Under the cloud of stress, it’s very easy to give into distractions, pour over news reports and surf the blogosphere… You might have guessed that meditation wasn’t one of these distractions.
When it came to meditation, metta was still a lower priority. For some reason, it’s always had a certain stigma for me. Metta was for whimps and lesser mortals. It was full of all that New Age love and oneness blah. But talking with R in the car forced me to reflect on the times in the past when I’d used metta, and how it really changed the way I viewed the world. When I’m not thinking positive thoughts, then what type of thoughts am I thinking?
So in addition to inspiring me to kickstart my practice again, R has also inspired me to fold metta into it more deeply. I’ve been using the basic framework from the Dhammayuttika Chanting Guide, focusing on all four sublime attitudes. The last attitude, upekkha or equanimity, is my favorite. Sometimes you may feel a little too judgmental towards someone, and reflecting on equanimity is a great way to let go of it.
As for the job interview, I spent the whole morning doing metta meditation wherever I was, whether parking my car or standing in the elevator. As I went through the interview and panel, I noticed that the major effect was how metta helps wipe away anxiety and fears, not just animosity and judgment. It’s a hair short of building instant friendliness with whomever you come in contact with.
I can’t say that whether this got me the job interview, but it sure put my mind at ease. May all beings be happy, peaceful and free from suffering!