“The tragedy of life is linked inescapably with its splendor; you could tear civilization down and rebuild it from scratch, and the same dualities would rise again. Yet to fully inhabit these dualities—the dark as well as the light—is, paradoxically, the only way to transcend them. And transcending them is the ultimate point. The bittersweet is about the desire for communion, the wish to go home.”

– Susan Cain, “Bittersweet”

I recently heard a “lovingkindness” meditation on a podcast. This isn’t the first time I’ve come across this meditation. While the words of the meditation sound lovely, they just don’t resonate with me.

The meditation goes like this:

May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be safe. May I live with ease.

If you enjoy thinking this and it makes you feel peaceful, that’s great. Practice this meditation if it works for you.

For me personally, when I hear these words, I think “yeah, right”.

There are plenty of times when I don’t feel happy, healthy, safe, or at ease.

I know that forcing myself to try to be happy and calm all the time only makes me feel worse. The irony is that the more I allow myself to feel pain (instead of resisting it or trying to escape from it), the happier I am.

Accepting that life is 50/50 has brought me so much peace. Life is half amazing and half awful. It’s supposed to be this way.

Here is a meditation I wrote that feels more realistic and peaceful to me:

May I have moments of happiness and moments of suffering.

May I have moments of health and moments of illness.

May I have moments when I feel safe and moments when I feel afraid.

May I have moments of ease and moments of struggle.

May I allow myself and others to experience the fabric of every single emotion, from the depths of grief and anguish to the peaks of joy and love.

May I remember to have compassion for myself and others as we navigate the messy realities of being human…

…and may I, even for the briefest moments, see the beauty in all of it.