Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Connected, Part Four: Facebook as Metta Meditation (Guest Post)

Techquanimity
I am delighted to feature the following guest post by Joyce Genet of Techquanimity. Joyce left a comment on this blog recently that got me thinking, so I invited her to expand on the comment. The following post on mindful use of Facebook is the result. I hope you will enjoy her post and will check out her website as well. You can also connect with her on twitter and, of course, Facebook.

There I was. I'd sit down "for a minute" to check Facebook. Miles of scrolling and 1,500 clicks later I’d realize it had been hours. My eyes would be tired, my butt sore, and I’d hardly remember what I read. No wonder some people want to stay away from Facebook. 

That was me as a social media newbie. I've gotten a lot better since then. Ironically, checking regularly allows me to spend less total time because I'm not tempted to read everything new. So, that's an improvement, but after reading Rebecca Hawkes recent post Connected, Part One I commented that "surfing, tweeting, posting, commenting, and instagramming intentionally and with a mindful attitude can be a wonderful way to connect with friends and family near or far and to meet new friends.

Arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Intentionally and with a mindful attitude. I may waste less time on Facebook, but am I really reading, posting, and commenting intentionally and with a mindful attitude? Sometimes. Sometimes not. Sometimes just sort of. So as an experiment I've decided to kick it up a notch. 

There is a tradition in Buddhism called Metta Meditation. It is the sending of Loving Kindness to all beings by wishing them safety, wellness, and peace. We meditatively repeat phrases such as: May you be safeMay you be happy and healthy, and May you dwell in peace while mentally focusing on various people or groups.  Usually it begins with ourselves, and spreads outward to benefactors and loved ones, to those who are neutral, then to difficult people in our lives, and eventually to everyone -- all beings, in all directions.

My intent is to practice Metta Meditation while checking Facebook.  I'll set my meditation timer, center myself, and consciously and meditatively go through my Facebook newsfeed. With each post I'll call up visions of that friend and wish them safety, wellness and peace. I will pay attention to sensations and reactions within myself and wish myself safety, wellness and peace. When my mind wanders, I will gently bring it back to the post at hand. I will "like" when I honestly like; I will comment when the comment is kind and from the heart; I will "share" when it feels important to share.  And when the meditation timer chimes, I will close Facebook.

*****

Renjith Krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I didn’t really think it was going to be a big deal, but WOW. I lived up to my intentions and was shocked by how different the experience felt. As I read each post I concentrated on the profile picture. Often their family members -- children, spouses, pets -- also popped into my head. I found myself smiling and nodding. One post simply said, “I love you, ____  _____.”  I didn't know the person named, but sent them Loving Kindness anyway. Intellectually I already knew you don't have to know someone personally to wish them well, but this made me feel it in my heart. I could love them without knowing them. Someone else shared some great news, but also that she was afraid it wasn't real or was some kind of mistake. Her excitement, relief, and underlying fear and worry brought tears to my eyes. I could feel it all through her post. It was almost magical. It was wonderful and real. Now I want to always always always check Facebook this way.

Will I? Certainly not every time. I've already quickly checked a couple posts and didn't set a timer and didn't take time with each and every friend's post, but the feeling of connecting with each person individually and on a personal level carried over.  Some posts seemed to ask for more of a connection, so I slowed down, sent them Loving Kindness and felt the connection deeply. I plan to make Facebook Metta a regular practice and write about this again on my blog at www.techquanimity.com. If you decide to try this, I’d love to hear about your experiences as well. And feel free to contact me if you have any questions about Metta meditation.

This post is one of a series of posts on the subject of connection. To read the full series, please click here

4 comments:

  1. Metta Meditation is a new concept to me, and I'm eager to try it.


    Mindfully, of course.

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  2. What a wonderful idea! Forgive me for being banal but how long do you set your meditation timer for?

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  3. Thank you. No need to apologize. Sometimes it's those pesky details that derail our good intentions. I usually set my timer for 15 minutes, but I also have a "Five More Minutes" timer for when that just wasn't quite long enough. I would suggest that you start with 10 or 15 minutes and try it for a couple of days. Then follow your heart and adjust the time if it feels too long or short. I'd love to hear how it goes.

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  4. It's a wonderful practice. I first found it after reading "Loving Kindness" by Sharon Salzberg, a very accessible book. Let us know how it goes!


    Peace,
    Joyce

    ReplyDelete

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