May 02, 2013
Be forewarned. You’re going to see a bunch of headlines soon like this one from Business Week: Economists Nail It: You Can Never Be Too Rich.
The Business Week post is rather breathless: “I just spoke with Justin Wolfers, co-author of a short but important new paper that concludes the more money you have, on average, the happier you are.” I almost see the author’s laptop screen misting as he pants with excitement.
Business Week describes this finding thus: “That may seem to deserve a Homer Simpson “Duh!” award for most obvious research finding of the month” before going on to admit that actually previous research …
May 02, 2013
When the rubber hits the road is a great time to practice lovingkindness, and I mean literal rubber and a literal road.
There’s a lot of irritation involved in driving, right up to the extreme of road rage. It can be irritating to be in slow traffic, or busy traffic, or to be cut off, or to be held up by roadworks, or stuck at traffic lights.
We’re emotionally cut off from other drivers because we’re all in our own semi-private metal boxes, and so we don’t have access (usually) to their body language and facial expressions. So we often take things personally that aren’t necessarily personal. As comedian …
May 01, 2013
When I walk, I usually do a “walking lovingkindness” practice. Since it takes me 15 minutes to walk to work and another 15 to walk home again, I get a “bonus” 30 minutes of meditation on the days I don’t have to drive. So even if I only manage 30 minutes of sitting practice I end up meditating for an hour, which is a reasonably substantial amount of meditation to do in a day.
Of course I’m sure there are many ways to do walking lovingkindness, but I’ll share what my practice is.
Basically, it’s very simple: as I walk, I say to myself, “May all beings be well; May all …
Apr 30, 2013
People use the words “guilt” and “shame” in different ways. I use “shame” to translate the Buddhist word “hiri” and see guilt as being something entirely different. And I think an awareness of this difference is very important to recognize when we’re trying to live with more kindness.
In Buddhist psychology shame (hiri) is a skillful rather than an unskillful mental state. This may be surprising! We usually think of “skillful” mental states as being pleasant, and shame is definitely not pleasant. In fact it can be rather painful. So what does it mean to say that shame is skillful?
Shame is considered to be a spiritually useful emotion — an …
Apr 29, 2013
We all know people who are, ah … challenging. It could be a critical parent, a bossy supervisor, a relative who has you walking on eggshells, a nice but flaky friend, a co-worker who just doesn’t like you, a partner who won’t keep his or her agreements, or a politician you dislike. Right now I’m thinking of a neighbor who refused to pay his share of a fence between us.
As Jean-Paul Sartre put it: “Hell is other people.”
Sure, that’s overstated. But still, most of a person’s hurts, disappointments, and irritations typically arise in reactions to other people.
Ironically, in order for good relationships to be so nurturing to us as human …
Apr 29, 2013
Sangharakshita, the founder of the Triratna Buddhist Order and Triratna Buddhist Community, is asked by Ratnaguna in this video from (I think) 1991 why some of us have difficulties feeling kindness towards ourselves, and what we can do about it.
PS Feel free to join our Google+ 100 Day Community, where people are reporting-in on their practice, and giving each other support and encouragement.
Apr 28, 2013
What a wonderful feeling – you’re in your favorite meditation pose generating loving-kindness, starting with yourself and gradually turning to the world. A feeling of connection to your loved ones, your sangha, and to all sentient beings fills you with bliss.
The metta bhavana is a powerful meditation. It opens the heart and engenders feelings of love and openness.
But what about when you’re off the cushion . . . like when you’re late for work in that long line for coffee? Or when you’re stuck in traffic and just want to get home? Is the loving-kindness still radiating from within you?
Below are 6 …
Apr 27, 2013
I’ve been talking, in these 100 Days of Lovingkindness posts, of ways we can cultivate metta, or lovingkindness. But we also need to put it into practice. We need to practice kindness — to show kindness to others.
One of the participants in our 100 Days Google+ Community shared what I thought was a beautiful practice. She wrote:
For a few days I was surreptitiously writing love notes and dropping them in unlikely places for whoever found them. It was a challenge to my poetic nature and a source of delight to me.
It sounds crazy, but harmlessly loving, and since I’m in a bit of a funk today I think
Apr 26, 2013
We all have an inner critic that tells us we’re not good enough. Sometimes it tells us far worse things than that — that we’re worthless, that no one likes us, that we’re essentially unlovable. In cultivating metta we’re supposed to love ourselves, but the inner critic is a part of us; how do we love that? And how to we stop listening to the inner critic long enough to experience any love for ourselves?
Actually all practice helps deal with our inner critic. Any mindfulness practice helps because as soon as you’re mindful of the brain’s “self-hatred module” you’re no longer being self-hatred. Self hatred is at its …
Apr 25, 2013
I heard a story when my son was in a local Waldorf school, and I loved it.
The children were in art class seated in different tables, working hard at their projects. One little girl was particularly diligent, so the teacher stood behind her and watched for a while. Then she bent over to ask her what she was drawing.
Very matter-of-fact the little girl said, “I’m drawing God”.
The teacher chuckled and said, “But you know, hon, no one knows what God looks like.”
Without skipping a beat, without even looking up, the little girl responded, “They will in a moment!”
This made me wonder, what happened to our wildness? The wildness of God, of …