I have an old habit of doing metta meditation in the kitchen. Whether over the stove, washing dishes or scrubbing the floor, I fall into the habit of reciting lines of metta (loving kindness) in my head. So it was late last night when I was washing dishes, as the soapy water poured over my hands and I began cycling through lines of metta, that my mind finally broke away from yesterday’s Angry Asian Buddhist post. I was stunned.
Until that moment, my thoughts were filled with a storm of past blog comments and potential replies. And I wasn’t even aware of it.
This little Dharma Folk blog is usually pretty low key when it comes to internet traffic, so the past couple of days have been unusual, to say the least. I got caught up very quickly in an inconsequential back-and-forth about the place of Asian Americans in the Buddhist community. All the attention toyed with my ego and I took the bait. There were a lot of great comments on the Angry Asian Buddhist post, and they all are worth talking about more in detail. But I thought I’d talk about something else: anger, frustration and stress.
I’m not an angry Asian Buddhist. Or at least, I’m not actually angry. I’d counted on an audience familiar with the pop culture reference to the Angry Asian Man and the Angry Little Asian Girl. Readers may not have been able to understand the reference, but it still worked. I wrote to provoke, and in turn got some fairly indignant responses. And then I came right back with my self-righteousness. I may not have been angry, but I was certainly stressed out.
The lessons that I take from meditation practice apply here. When I think about blog comments and how to respond, it’s no different than when a memory of an argument pops into my head and then I think of what I’ll say the next time I see so-and-so. Sitting meditation helps me recognize this endless cycle of thoughts. It strengthens mindfulness. With enough practice, I’m able to catch my weedy thoughts before they even sprout. And when I’m too late, it’s good to have a tool to combat insidious weeds.
Metta meditation is an especially useful tool. I can’t thank my friend R. enough for inspiring me to practice it daily. I know that many people have the attitude that I used to have: “Metta is for whimps!” Still I tried the practice, and it worked. I don’t think I could keep my mind healthy without practicing metta. When something is really bothering me, a few minutes of metta meditation can be like a splash of cool water on a burning mind.
Mindfulness and loving kindness don’t come out of the box. They need to be cultivated. Blogging, while potentially stressful, can also be an opportunity for practice. That said, I’m sure I still need to supplement “blogging practice” with sitting and metta meditation. If sitting and metta are like running and swimming, then blogging is my Ironman. Whatever you do to strengthen your mind, your loving kindness and compassion, stick to it. It pays off.
Maybe you’ll even be able to brush off some annoying Asian American blogger!
So that’s my decompression post. The Angry Asian Buddhist will be back — like it or not!