When to use it:
When you’re at a red light. This exercise is also great however, whenever you’re in a crowd, such as in an airport, on public transportation, or in a store.
When at a red light, stop, ‘drop’ down into your heart, and ‘roll’ out a little good will to your fellow travelers. Look at the person in cars in front of you, behind you, passing around you and to each person you focus on say the following:
“May you know much happiness.”
“May you be free from suffering.”
When I was a kid, we had a station wagon with a back seat that faced the back window of the car. So, if you happened to be sitting in the back seat, you actually looked directly at the cars behind you. Back in the day, most station wagons had this design feature.
Recently, I was at a stoplight and the car in front of me was one such old fashioned station wagon and lo and behold, there were two small children in the back seat facing directly towards me. I must admit that it’s a bit unnerving at first to be face to face with someone at a stoplight when you are not accustomed to making eye contact.
I smiled at the children and the next thing I knew, they were waving at me. Then I held up the peace sign, which they mimicked. The three of us laughed and then the little girl blew me a kiss, which I returned. We were having such a love fest that I actually felt a little sad when the light turned green and we went off on our own separate trajectories.
“What a nice way to spend a pause at a red light,” I thought. Most of us spend red lights either in unconsciousness, fretting about the future or the past, or grumbling at the driver who wasn’t going fast enough. “Why not use red lights to wish a little goodwill to those of us in a mutual stop to our day?” I mused, and thus this tool was born.
Imagine if at every stop light every person in every car was having thoughts of good will and kindness. Imagine if at every stop light every person was aware, even for a moment, of their compassion for others. We would have a very different world.
This tool gets you out of your own little sphere. It opens you to the people around you, to their joys and their suffering. It expands your sense of self by linking you to others who wish for happiness and wish to be free from suffering, just like you do. Open your heart with compassion and you will experience a deeper sense of inner peace.
When I pass on the highway, oftentimes I will look over at the other driver and often he/she will sense something and look back. If I am able to not reflexively turn away in embarrassment and we establish eye contact, my small nod and smile is often reciprocated and there is a brief moment of joy, lightness and blessing.
Thanks for sharing your experience! Yes, that’s exactly the sort of simple human connection between travelers that is possible.