Here is a complete meditation course by Ayya Khema (1923-1997), a Buddhist nun who established Buddhist centers in Sri Lanka and Germany and wrote 25 books. It focuses on the middle path of simplicity and delineates two outcomes of regular practice: a calm mind and insight. Meditation, according to the author, is our vehicle for the art of letting go — seeing our inner difficulties and learning to drop them.

Throughout this very practical text, Khema shares a variety of metta meditations for practicing lovingkindness to ourselves and others. "Metta is a beautiful word — just five letters signifying the purity of our own heart." Consider in your own life how drawn you are to people who are always cheerful and radiate a kind of emotional warmth.

Those who regularly practice metta meditations will also be more reverent toward things. Khema points to the Japanese Zen tradition where individuals greet their cushion and other meditators before they sit down. Another offshoot is respect and politeness toward strangers. A final outgrowth is equanimity where we are no longer enslaved to our internal raging. Most of the material in this excellent meditation course can be appropriated as lessons in the education of the heart.

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