Words of kindness, words of compassion

November 1, 2013

Buddha Close UpThere are many ways to develop metta (kindness, or lovingkindness), which is the desire that beings, ourselves included, be happy. Kindness arises from a basic realization that all beings want to be happy, and that their happiness and suffering are as real to them as our own happiness and suffering are to us. Recognizing those facts, and knowing that we ourselves want to be happy, we naturally wish happiness for others.

Kindness is inherent in us all, and in the meditation practice we’re strengthening what’s already there, not bringing something entirely new into being.

The most well-known way to cultivate metta is drop phrases into the mind that strengthen and develop our kindness. When I … Read more »

What do you give?

October 23, 2013

Hanson_thGiving – to others, to the world, to oneself – is deep in our nature as human beings.

When our mammalian ancestors first appeared, about two hundred million years ago, their capacities for bonding, emotion, and generosity were extraordinary evolutionary breakthroughs. Unlike reptiles and fish, mammals and birds care for their young, pair bond (sometimes for life), and usually form complex social groups organized around various kinds of cooperation. This takes more smarts than, say, a fish laying a swarm of eggs and swimming away – so in proportion to body weight, mammals and birds have bigger brains than reptiles and fish do.

When primates came along about sixty million years ago, there was another … Read more »

Mindfulness benefits overall health

October 23, 2013

U-T, San Diego: When I observed that the Mayo Clinic Health Letter had devoted an entire special section to mindfulness, I thought, this looks like something to share.

According to the Health Letter, “It was originally conceived as a way to ease suffering and cultivate compassion.” That sentence is derivative of no specific religion or culture. Despite the fact that mindfulness has roots in Buddhism, it is relevant to all religions. As a religious or psychological concept it is the focusing of attention and awareness on the present. “… (R)esearch has found therapy based on mindfulness to be effective, particularly for reducing anxiety…

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Buddhism, Christianity share goals: Dalai Lama

October 12, 2013

globalpost: The Dalai Lama told Mexicans on Saturday that Christianity and Buddhism coincide in their pursuit of human happiness.

Both religions promote “love, compassion and self-discipline” that lead to happiness, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader told some 3,000 people.

More than 90 percent of Mexico’s 118 million people are Catholic.

With his usual smile and good humor, the Dalai Lama said that for decades, Christian leaders have been interested in some Buddhist teachings.

Christianity promotes the concept of a transcendent and unique God as creator, while Buddhism refutes the existence of a creator.

The Dalai Lama’s trip, which began Friday, marks his fourth to Mexico…

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Surprising ally for snow leopards: Buddhist monks

September 9, 2013

Tia Ghose, LiveScience: The endangered snow leopard has some allies in unexpected places.

The leopards are being protected by hundreds of Buddhist monasteries on the Tibetan plateau, new research suggests.

The scientists, who detailed their study last week in the journal Conservation Biology, found that half of the monasteries are within the snow leopards’ habitat and that monks patrol the wilderness to prevent poachers from killing the rare cats.

“Buddhism has as a basic tenet — the love, respect, and compassion for all living beings,” said study co-author George Schaller, a biologist with the endangered cat conservation group Panthera, in a statement. “This report …

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What matters most to you?

August 23, 2013

RickHansonIn every life, reminders arrive about what’s really important.

Two years ago, I received one myself, in a form that’s already come to countless people and will come to countless more: news of a potentially serious health problem. My semi-annual dermatology mole check turned up a localized melanoma cancer in my ear that needed to come out immediately. The prognosis was very positive – the melanoma was “non-invasive,” whew – but it was certainly an intimation of mortality. Hopefully this particular bullet will whiz by, but the whole experience was an uncomfortably concrete message that sooner or later something will catch up with each one of us.

When all this happened back in June, 2011, … Read more »

Meditation’s next frontier: Improving customer service

July 26, 2013

Knowledge@Wharton: The role of meditation in enhancing individual performance, leadership and productivity is well documented. However, a recent study captures its uses in evoking compassion — as the Buddha originally intended. Businesses could use that insight and meditation as a tool to foster closer bonding between employees and to spur them to serve customers better, according to Wharton management professor Sigal Barsade.

A recent article in The New York Times by David DeSteno, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, describes how he, along with psychologist Paul Condon, neuroscientist Gaelle Desbordes and Buddhist lama Willa Miller, conducted an experiment in meditation that…

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3 key mindfulness practices for calm, self-compassion and happiness

June 19, 2013

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., PsychCentral: When it comes to mindfulness, there are a number of great short practices that help us be more present to our lives. In this post I’m going to reveal three key mindfulness practices that can help us pause, break out of auto-pilot, step into emotional freedom and even open up to a source of connection that is ultimately healing to ourselves and the world. Plus, I’ll reveal a new practice that people are starting to love.

I know it sounds lofty, but give them a shot and let your experience be the teacher…

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There is no one to have compassion, no one to have compassion for (Day 50)

May 31, 2013

100 Days of LovingkindnessA couple of times people have contacted me saying that self-compassion is not possible. Both times they’ve quoted dictionary definitions that present compassion as something that’s inherently directed toward others. For example:

com·pas·sion n. Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. [Emphasis added]

And the etymology of compassion — “[to be] with suffering” — has also been cited as a reason for rejecting the notion of self-compassion, because that’s taken to suggest that we be with the suffering of others.

But it can be misleading to insist that the etymology of a word defines or exhausts its present meaning. Sure, com- means with and passion means suffering. … Read more »

An awareness imbued with compassion (Day 49)

May 30, 2013

100 Days of Lovingkindness

“…an individual keeps pervading the first direction — as well as the second direction, the third, and the fourth — with an awareness imbued with compassion. Thus he keeps pervading above, below, and all around, everywhere and in every respect the all-encompassing cosmos with an awareness imbued with compassion: abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.”

I want to focus on the phrase, of the Buddha’s, “an awareness imbued with compassion,” because I think it’s rather important.

Here’s something you can try in your meditation. When I’m teaching, often at the beginning of a period of practice I’ll suggest that people become aware of the light, and space, and sound … Read more »