By Sandy Levy
Many people come to us with pain they believe is caused by stress, for which massage therapy can be very helpful. Meditation is also well known to reduce stress, and has the added benefit of requiring no more than a quiet place and a few moments. I have found that the so-called “open-heart meditation” I was taught many years ago can help to bring peace to those difficult relationships that are a major cause of anxiety. Some people consider it to be a form of prayer.
This meditation appears to be a focus upon changing someone else, but the change is aimed at oneself. It is based upon two assumptions: that the person about whom one is troubled has a fundamental goodness or lovability, even if this is not apparent, and second, that what we project tends to come back to us. Love begets love, anger begets anger, etc.
This is what I was taught: Sit in a quiet place, breath slow and even and eyes closed, and imagine the troubling person in a positive light. Perhaps you will picture a face that expresses joy and peace, even if you have never seen this person in that state. As you do this you will begin to erase the negative image you have been carrying, a change that by itself can be calming.
The second step is to feel an openness in your heart toward this person. You may think and send words of love or kindness, but the essential thing is to create a feeling of openness in the heart. If it is not possible to open your heart–perhaps you are very angry with the person–you should know that you have accomplished something important merely by changing your image, even briefly.
Again, this process is not an attempt to change the other person, but to change one’s own orientation. Do not be surprised if you see alterations in the relationship you thought were not possible.
If you choose to perform this meditation, I hope you will share your experience.