The Neutrals

In February, meditation teacher and author, Sharon Salzberg sponsors a 28-Day Meditation Challenge. Everybody is invited to commit to meditating every day for the month and join the mindfulness community. As part of the challenge, I’ll be blogging throughout the month (along with other meditator/bloggers) about the experience. You can find the posts on Sharon’s site and I’ll share mine on Focus Pocus.

28-Day Meditation Challenge ~ Day 24
Tuesday, February 24, 2015

28 Day Challenge aspen leaf pub dom

Metta (Loving kindness) meditation is an offering of good wishes to a variety of categories of people: benefactors, teachers, friends, people who are struggling, difficult people, and neutral people. Neutral people are those we don’t know or don’t know well, who we may see or interact with glancingly in the course of our day.

Pema Chödrön calls them (dramatic pause, cue organ music) “The Neutrals.” She says it with a funny, ominous voice, like The Neutrals are aliens or some unusual species. On the contrary, even for those with wide circles of connection, The Neutrals are just about everybody in the world.

When I’m consumed with my To Do list, and my vision is narrowed to my tiny personal perspective, I paste The Neutrals into the collage of my days hastily with a sloppy slather of glue. I see the people at my periphery only as their function or their appearance or their bumper sticker.

Practicing metta opens my vision and reminds me that every single one of these people has a story, a rich life full of happiness and hardship, struggle and pleasure, delight and difficulty.

Errands are awesome for connecting with The Neutrals. Today, the woman at Staples with tired eyes and her hair in a crazy bun, the smiling lady at the dry cleaner who liked my pants, the bank teller who called me “hon”, and the bored-looking young man at CVS, all took on a three-dimensional quality as I thought, “May you be happy.” My eyes and heart softened around them all.

Metta stretches my heart. It opens me to my own humanness, to my connection to those that I love, reminds me that even the most difficult people just want to be happy and free. But one of the most profound effects of metta is that The Neutrals, the hundreds and hundreds of people I cross paths with, become more real and more whole to me.

May you be happy.

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