Well, the title of this post may seem a bit ironic, but whether you like it or not, teens are hyper-connected to their computers these days. Though students are not allowed to use cell phones at school, and that includes yoga classes in the school, I have caught students texting during savasana (so I would think that’s a negative) but I have also had teens come in to show me an app on “calorie counting in yoga” or “keeping track of the sleep cycle” after talking about it in class (doing extra work outside of class: positive). This is why Asana Alphabet thinks the following write-up from guest blogger Zara is relevant for teachers who work with teens! Enjoy!
Why I Like the Facebook “Like” Button
A Digital Metta Meditation
I admit it. I was reluctant to join Facebook because I was suspicious of having a social life that is cultivated online. I often wondered, and commented to others, ‘what is the purpose of having all these “friends” if I don’t regularly see or have real interactions with them?’ It just seemed superficial to me.
image by xedos4
In the end, I decided to join Facebook because I realized it was a good forum to connect and interact with my students, and other interested people, who have questions about their yoga, meditation or mindfulness practice, or want to know more about how to integrate it into their busy lives, but with many of whom I couldn’t possibly speak on the phone or sit down for coffee each time a question arises because of the reality of our busy urban lives.
Then of course, like so many others, I found that after joining and adding my circles of friends, family and colleagues, I have also reconnected with friends and colleagues from the past, far past and distant far past, even friends who I would otherwise never know anything about because we’ve moved clear across the country from each other. It has been wonderful to see familiar faces and learn about the paths that lives have taken. Clearly Facebook has unleashed a potent connecting power on our generation, a power that makes it possible to keep track of all the many people who pass through our lives, even those that we meet for only a short time, and the connection is pleasant and exciting.
But what I am most moved by on Facebook is the “Like” button, which I believe generates countless pulses of positivity every day all over the world. Is there anyone out there that doesn’t feel a similar surge (big or small) of happiness that I do when I click on the little globe icon to reveal what friends have responded to my status updates or recent photos? Each notification of a “Like” makes me feel seen and heard, validated and affirmed. And who doesn’t like that?
The best part is that it’s so easy to send the positive “Like” vibe. Just one little click and you are sharing a digital version of a compliment, some word of encouragement, a smile, or a shoulder squeeze. In less than 3 minutes you can click click click your positive affirmations to a dozen of your friends–way faster than sending them individual emails or text messages. The ease and simplicity of the “Like” button encourages us all to positively engage with more people than we possibly could (or would) on any given day, and to constantly cheer each other on.
I am so impressed by the “Like” button that I regularly find myself engaging in what I call “liking” sessions: reading through the News Feed and liking statuses and pictures, links and pages. Although most of my liking comes naturally and rapidly, I have noticed on occasion a stray negative feeling…maybe envy about someone’s travel adventure, or irritation with someone who hasn’t given me the attention I think I deserve. At those times I might pause slightly, but then I press the “Like” button anyway because I really want to share the positive affirmation, despite whatever other negative feeling I might be experiencing.
When I first noticed myself doing this, I thought of a popular buddhist meditation technique, called Metta, that I have been practicing for the last 5 years. Metta is a Pali word (the language of the historical Buddha) that is often translated as “loving kindness” but is also said to mean “friendliness,” “kindness,” or “close mental union.” Metta meditation practice involves mentally sending a kind wish to a variety of people in your life (in other words…a “Like”) with the purpose of cultivating more positive, kind feelings in your self, and meditating on any un-kindness (a.k.a., hatred or ill-will) you might feel towards others.
image by mr lightman
It’s best to practice Metta when your mind is balanced and calm, perhaps upon waking up or when you are feeling particularly relaxed. To try it, follow these simple instructions:
- Sit in a comfortable posture.
- Take a few deep inhales and exhales, gradually slowing your breath.
- Breathe for a few moment and simply observe your breath as it flows in and out of your nostrils.
- In your mind, repeat the following words to yourself: May I be happy, may I be peaceful, may I be free from pain.
- Bring to mind someone you care about, like or love and repeat the following words directed to that person: May you be happy, may you be peaceful, may you be free from pain.
- Next, bring to mind someone in your life that you have no strong feeling towards, whether positive or negative (I usually imagine the worker at my post office, or someone else I have encountered briefly during the previous day), and repeat the following words directed to that person: May you be happy, may you be peaceful, may you be free from pain.
- Then, bring to mind someone you don’t like–or even hate–and repeat the following words directed to that person: May you be happy, may you be peaceful, may you be free from pain.
Don’t worry, no one has an easy time wishing happiness, peace and freedom from pain on someone they don’t like–in fact we often want to wish the exact opposite! But say the words anyway, even if you don’t feel it, because eventually after consistent practice, you might find that your negative feelings towards that person begin to dissolve. The objective of Metta practice, and the reason we practice well wishing ourselves and loved ones first, is to cultivate a strong feeling of warm kindness towards others…and then rely on that good feeling to break through the heaviness of our negative ones.
And so it is with the “Like” button, which in my world is a mini digital version of Metta practice–by pressing the “Like” button to encourage and affirm others even when I’m hesitant, I’m cultivating strong positive feelings and dissolving negative ones. I am betting that most of you already use the “Like” button frequently, and if you do, perhaps you will try Metta practice and get the many benefits of sharing positive wishes with others.
In the meantime, I would love to know, what do you think about “Like” button? Leave your thoughts in a Comment below!
And if you are feeling it, go ahead and share it with a “Like” for me on Facebook here: http://on.fb.me/y37e3F
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