The greatest gift is the
gift of the teachings
Retreat Dharma Talks at Spirit Rock Meditation Center

January Metta 2024

Mettā, or lovingkindness practice, is the cultivation of the intention of benevolence as the orientation of our heart and mind. It is also a path to wisdom. Through meditation, which is practiced steadfastly on retreat, we develop our capacity for mettā in order for it to manifest in an ongoing way in our daily lives.

In this retreat, we will learn the formal practice of mettā along with its companion practices of compassion, joy, and equanimity. All four of these practices—known as the brahmavihāras or divine abodes—strengthen self-confidence, self-acceptance, and steadiness of mind and heart, while revealing our fundamental disposition toward kindness. We will be joined on one day of the retreat by Sylvia Boorstein, a beloved long-time teacher of mettā.

This retreat is silent except for teacher-led Q&A, small groups, or other practice meetings.

2024-01-10 (8 days) Spirit Rock Meditation Center

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2024-01-10 Opening of Metta Retreat and Introduction to Metta (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 1:33:42
Donald Rothberg, Beth Sternlieb, Gullu Singh, Jonathan Relucio, Kaira Jewel Lingo
In this Opening talk, the teachers offer a land acknowledgement, introduce themselves, and Kaira Jewel gives a short talk on what metta is, how to practice metta and how we can take refuge in the retreat container.
2024-01-11 Basic Metta Meditation Instructions and Guided Meditation (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 52:57
Kaira Jewel Lingo
We cover the 3 elements of metta practice: generating the energy of friendliness, visualizing the person/being you are sending metta to, and repeating the phrases. We offer various versions of the phrases and introduce the first few categories of beings we can send metta to: self, benefactor, and dear friend. In the guided practice we begin by feeling held and loved by others and then offer this to ourselves, then move on to benefactor and dear friend.
2024-01-11 More General Guidance on Mettā Practice (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 44:33
Gullu Singh
In this guided meditation Gullu builds on the instructions for Mettā practice from the morning session.
2024-01-11 Metta Practice As A Path of Awakening: How Metta Practice Transforms Us and How to Practice with Challenges in Metta Practice 54:45
Donald Rothberg
Metta practice is a wonderful, ancient practice that has parallels in the cultivation of kindness and love in other spiritual traditions; developing the wise heart of kindness is an ancient vocation. There are also parallels with the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his emphasis on bringing love to help transform injustice; we play a brief recording from Dr. King. We also explore different dimensions of Metta practice and how it relates to other pathways of awakening through mindfulness and wisdom. We then look at some of the main challenges of Metta practice, such as distraction, repetitive thoughts, sleepiness, and challenging emotions and body states, and how to practice with them.
2024-01-12 Metta and Compassion for Self (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 47:27
Beth Sternlieb
Compassion is the activity of wisdom. We practice because we care. When we offer ourselves compassion, resistance dissolves and like a gentle rain metta permeates our heart down to the roots of our being.
2024-01-13 Introduction to Compassion Meditation and Guided Meditation (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 4:32:57
Kaira Jewel Lingo
We cover what compassion is and how it can help soothe our pain much better than avoiding or denying it. We distinguish between compassion and pity and then offer a variety of compassion phrases we can use. In the guided meditation, we begin with a dear friend who is undergoing some kind of suffering and then move on to ourselves, offering self-compassion for our own physical or mental suffering.
2024-01-13 Reflections on Mettā and Equanimity (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 58:39
Gullu Singh
Mettā can be a foundation of cornerstone for Equanimity (Upekka). As we cultivate a mind that is more and more impartial the mind where Mettā can shine evenly on everyone the mind becomes less attached to preferences and this quality of mind is more able to meet any moment with ease.
2024-01-14 Mettā for the Neutral Person (Retreat at Spirit) 53:03
Gullu Singh
In this session Gullu guides a meditation practice focusing on sending loving kindness to a person we do not know well, sometimes referred to as the friendly stranger.
2024-01-14 Guided Equanimity Practice (Retreat at Spirit Rock) 43:01
Gullu Singh
In this session Gullu shares a short dharmette about equanimity and then guides an equanimity practice using phrases.
2024-01-14 Metta Practice with Difficulties and Challenges: Metta for the Difficult Person, Practicing with the Judgmental Mind, and Forgiveness 63:41
Donald Rothberg
We begin by exploring the nature of some of the challenges of metta practice, including with difficult emotions, body-states, and thoughts, and how to practice when these challenges arise. The spirit is that of understanding challenges as part of the path of learning. We then focus on one way of deliberating bring metta practice to a challenging situation, through metta with the difficult person, followed by an account of one particular challenge, the “judgmental mind,” its nature and how to practice with it; this includes a short selection from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.s’ sermon, “On Judging.” Lastly, there is an introduction to forgiveness practice.
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