Lovingkindness: Connection before cultivation

July 15, 2016

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At the moment we’re fundraising to cover the costs of bringing out our newest CD, “Harnessing the Power of Kindness,” (publication date August 2016) which of course will also be available in MP3 format. We’re asking people to buy a copy in advance to help us pay for the upfront costs. Here’s a link to our Indiegogo crowdfunding page, where you can read about the perks we’re offering to donors.

One of the emphases in the guided meditations on this album is what might be called connection before cultivation. Basically this is the principle that cultivating kindness (or lovingkindness, if you prefer) is easier and more effective when we first connect empathetically with … Read more »

“The Kindness Cascade”

July 6, 2016

woman doing yoga

Meditation and mindfulness are frequently in the news, mainly because of the dramatic increase in research projects showing the many benefits these practices bring. In the graph below you’ll see that from around a dozen scientific journal articles on mindfulness being published in the entire decade of the 1980s, there are now several hundred papers being published each year, with the numbers increasing annually.

mindfulness journal publications

Although most of the focus in this research has been on mindfulness, there’s now an increasing emphasis on exploring the benefits lovingkindness (metta) meditation. Lovingkindness is really just the very familiar quality of “kindness.” Kindness is a recognition of ourselves and others as feeling beings — we all want to be … Read more »

“Harnessing the Power of Kindness”

July 2, 2016
harnessing the power of kindness CD cover
Click here to support our Indiegogo fundraiser!
Over the past three years I’ve been teaching lovingkindness meditation a lot. I ran a course in 2014 and again in 2015 called “100 Days of Lovingkindness,” and earlier this year I split that into four courses that were each 28 days long.

Focusing on lovingkindness practice in this way revealed a lot to me, even though this is a form of meditation I’ve been doing regularly for over 30 years.

For one thing it became clear to me that lovingkindness isn’t the best translation of “metta” and that “kindness” is a better term because it’s more experiential. (We can easily remember what it’s like to feel kind … Read more »

Support our next guided meditation CD!

June 27, 2016

harnessing the power of kindness CD cover

I teach meditation because nothing makes me happier than seeing other people become happier through practicing.

My life’s mission is to promote compassion and mindfulness by teaching meditation. “Harnessing the Power of Kindness,” my next CD/MP3 album, represents the latest evolution in my 30 or so years of teaching lovingkindness meditation. It contains practices that I’ve found particularly useful in developing empathy and kindness.

To help us bring these teachings to the world, we’re asking that you help sponsor their production by purchasing the CD (or MP3s) in advance. The $2,500 we’re seeking will go to cover the recording studio, graphic design, and CD publication costs.

Kindness and compassion have been shown in studies to … Read more »

The power of self-kindness

June 24, 2016

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How we look at ourselves makes a huge difference to how we feel. I’m talking principally about how we regard ourselves internally—how we each relate to ourselves as an individual human being—rather than the way we look at ourselves in a mirror, although the two are of course related.

For a moment, think what it’s like to sit having a conversation with a friendly person. We get lots of little signals from them, acknowledging us. They smile. They nod. They make little noises to let us know we’re being heard. They look concerned when we talk about our difficulties.

Now think of what it’s like to talk to someone who is staring blankly at you, … Read more »

Self-Compassion workshop in Chicago, July 31

June 17, 2016
self-compassion in Chicago
Click on the image to download a PDF flier.
Learn the Revolutionary Art of Self-Compassion

Bodhipaksa, founder of the online meditation centre Wildmind (www.wildmind.org), is facilitating a workshop on the art and practice of self-compassion, in Chicago on July 31, 2016.

Do you give yourself a hard time when things don’t go the way you plan? Do you find it hard to accept your faults? Do you criticize yourself a lot? Do you give yourself a harder time than you would ever give a friend or family member? If so, you’re not alone—and you might benefit from practicing self-compassion.

Research has demonstrated that those who rate highly on self-compassion scales are psychologically healthier … Read more »

What to do when you feel unloved

May 27, 2016

lonely tree

Someone recently wrote to me, saying that she was lonely and felt unloved, and wondering whether the metta bhavana practice (the meditation for developing kindness) would help. I thought I’d paraphrase and expand on what I’d said to her.

The metta bhavana practice can certainly help with feelings of loneliness. In particular, self-metta and self-compassion — showing ourselves the same kindness, support, and encouragement that we show to others that we care about — would be helpful.

Think about that thought, “No one loves me.” You might say things like that to yourself, but would you tell a friend who was lonely, “No one loves you”? How would that make her feel? Would … Read more »

A day without complaining

May 26, 2016

woman with hand over her mouthIn Buddhist practice, we cultivate something called “mudita.” Mudita is most commonly translated as “sympathetic joy,” which can sound a bit odd since nowadays we think of sympathy as being concern about someone’s suffering. Being sympathetic about happiness might seem peculiar.

But in earlier days the word sympathy meant more like the current use of our word “empathy.” And in fact, you’ll often see mudita translated these days as “empathetic joy,” meaning that we feel happy when others are happy.

But I don’t think that’s what empathy is really about. In a very early meditation text, called the Vimuttimagga (Path to Liberation), we’re asked to cultivate mudita in the following way: “When one sees or … Read more »

Stepping out of compulsive thoughts, and into freedom

May 19, 2016

Gold Fish Jumping to Empty Bowl

The moment when we realize that we’ve been caught up in a distracted train of thought is a valuable opportunity to bring skillful qualities into the mind, and to cultivate insight.

This is something that’s very familiar to anyone who’s meditated. We’ll start by following the breathing, or some other object of attention, but then without our making any conscious choice to shift our focus we slip into a dream-like state in which we’re rehashing a dispute, or fantasizing about something pleasant, or worrying about some situation in our lives.

These periods of distraction can be so intense that they are like hypnotic states. They’re like dreams. They’re like mental bubbles of an internal virtual … Read more »

The Dalai Lama’s $750,000 emotional atlas website is kind of blah

May 6, 2016

emotion atlas

The New York Times today reported that the Dalai Lama commissioned a website that presents an Atlas of Emotions, aimed to help ordinary people understand their emotions better. He paid psychologist Paul Ekman — who helped advise on Pixar’s “Inside Out” and on the TV show, “Lie to Me” — “at least” $750,000 to develop the site.

You should be able to get a hell of a lot of website for three quarters of a million dollars, right?

I’ve been playing around a little with the Dalai Lama’s emotion website. It defines and describes different emotions, their sub-states, the actions they give rise to, their triggers, and the settled moods they give rise to … Read more »