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Bodhipaksa

May 24, 2013

Bearing compassion in mind (Day 43)

100 Days of LovingkindnessI’d like to suggest a simple practice for you.

For the next hour or so, let the first thought you have when seeing someone or meeting them face-to-face be: “This person suffers just as I suffer. This person, just like me, doesn’t want to suffer.”

“Seeing someone” can include seeing their photograph or seeing them on TV, as well as seeing them in person, or seeing them passing by.

You can try this for a longer period, of course, but I thought it would be good to try it for a very short spell initially, so that you don’t feel you’re taking on a task that’s too big.

I’d advise …

Bodhipaksa

May 23, 2013

Compassion is not superiority (Day 42)

100 Days of LovingkindnessIt’s very easy for us to assume that the one who feels compassion is in some way superior to the one he or she feels compassion for. This is partly rooted, I presume, in the assumption that it’s weak to suffer, but that assumption in turn grows from our biological conditioning. We’re social animals, and one of the things a social animal has as part of its genetic makeup is a propensity to establish where it stands in a social hierarchy.

In Buddhist terms this is “seeking status,” which is one pair of the eight lokadhammas, which could be translated as “ways of the world,” although it’s often poetically …

Wildmind Meditation News

May 22, 2013

Brain can be trained in compassion, study shows

Until now, little was scientifically known about the human potential to cultivate compassion — the emotional state of caring for people who are suffering in a way that motivates altruistic behavior.

A new study by researchers at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that adults can be trained to be more compassionate. The report, published Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, investigates whether training adults in compassion can result in greater altruistic behavior and related changes in neural systems underlying compassion.

“Our fundamental question was, ‘Can compassion be trained and learned in adults? Can we become more caring if we practice that mindset?’” says Helen Weng, lead author …

Bodhipaksa

May 22, 2013

The science of happiness and compassion (Day 41)

100 Days of LovingkindnessCompassion is becoming a “hot topic” in scientific research, and the good news is that compassion has been shown to be innate, and that it makes us happier, more popular, and healthier.

1. Compassion is wired into us

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology observed two-year-olds’ reactions to seeing an adult who needed help because he or she had dropped an object and had trouble picking it up. The children’s pupil size increased — a sign of heightened concern — when they saw the adult in distress. Their concern decreased if they were allowed to help (and 10 out of 12 children chose to do so) or if …

Bodhipaksa

May 21, 2013

Compassion, bliss, and beyond (Day 40)

100 Days of LovingkindnessPeople often think of compassion as being a sombre, even depressing experience, but that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact when our compassion is sorrowful, this is just a sign that we have attachments to work through. (Which is fine, by the way. This is work we all have to do.) We might be attached to the idea that suffering shouldn’t exist, or that it’s “unfair” for it to affect someone we know, or that it shouldn’t reserve its attentions for those we deem to be bad, sparing the good, or that we shouldn’t feel discomfort. But those kinds of thoughts fly in the face of reality, …

Bodhipaksa

May 20, 2013

Compassion can be joyful (Day 39)

100 Days of LovingkindnessFor most of the 25 days in which we focused on Metta Bhavana, I felt like I was swimming in joy. About two thirds or three quarters of my meditations were positively blissful, and in my daily life I felt cocooned by lovingkindness, as if I was inside a bubble of joy that stress was unable to penetrate.

Then, on day 26, I switched to the karuna bhavana (developing compassion) and that all ground to a halt. I didn’t find the practice actually depressing, but it did feel sober. There was a feeling of having a weight in the heart.

But after just over a week of karuna bhavana I …

Bodhipaksa

May 19, 2013

Why are we so hard on ourselves? (Day 38)

100 Days of LovingkindnessWe can be very hard on ourselves, can’t we? It’s as if, sometimes, we’re watching out for any tiny hint of a mistake, and then we pounce on ourselves, getting angry, or frustrated, or ashamed.

I suspect it’s because we can be. When people are allowed or encouraged to be cruel, they often will be. There’s some inherent cruelty in all of us (to varying extents) and this is kept in check by social norms. Change the social norms so that cruelty is encouraged, and it soon emerges. The Standford Prison Experiment and other similar studies shows that that cruel streak is there and can easily be brought out to …

Bodhipaksa

May 17, 2013

The Heart’s Wisdom double CD — 90% off!

hearts-wisdomWe’re just over a third of the way into our 100 Days of Lovingkindness, and to celebrate we’re all but giving away my double CD of guided lovingkindness and compassion meditations, The Heart’s Wisdom.

As far as I’m aware, the Heart’s Wisdom is the only CD set offering a guide to the four practices known as the “immeasurables” or “brahmaviharas.”

The four meditations on the CD set are:

  • Developing lovingkindness
  • Developing compassion
  • Developing empathetic joy
  • Developing equanimity.
  • You can order the double CD here.

    You can also see all of the 100 Days of Lovingkindness posts here.

    And if you’d like to support the work we do, which seeks to change the world through the promotion of mindfulness …

    Bodhipaksa

    May 17, 2013

    Compassion and causing pain (Day 36)

    100 Days of LovingkindnessThe other day I wrote about “Idiot Compassion,” which I described as ‘…avoiding conflict, letting people walk all over you, not giving people a harm time when actually they need to be given a hard time. It’s “being nice,” or “being good.”’

    Idiot compassion, a term Chogyam Trungpa adapted from Gurdjieff, lacks both wisdom and courage. We don’t want to jeopardize being thought of as a “nice person” and so we’re unwilling to be direct with people when that’s needed. We’re afraid to say ‘no’ to our children, for example. This is the lack of courage.

    And we lack the ability to …

    Bodhipaksa

    May 16, 2013

    Self-compassion is not selfish (Day 35)

    Lotus, isolated on whiteIn his book, Living Ethically: Advice from Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland, Sangharakshita has some advice for those who feel guilty about wanting to be happy. I have to confess that I’d forgotten that it was possible to feel this way…

    “How can we wish for the happiness of others if we are alienated from our own desire for happiness?

    “Unfortunately, many of us in the West were given to understand when we were young that it is selfish to want happiness for onself, and we therefore feel unnecessarily guilty about wanting it. As a result, we can feel guilty even about BEING happy. ‘After all,’ the perverse logic goes, ‘with all my