Kindness to you is kindness to me; kindness to me is kindness to you

June 11, 2014

PartnershipI usually describe a practice as something to do: get on your own side, see the being behind the eyes, take in the good, etc. This practice is different: it’s something to recognize. From this recognition, appropriate action will follow. Let me explain.

Some years ago I was invited to give a keynote at a conference with the largest audience I’d ever faced. It was a big step up for me. Legendary psychologists were giving the other talks, and I feared I wouldn’t measure up. I was nervous. Real nervous.

I sat in the back waiting my turn, worrying about how people would see me. I thought about how to look impressive and get approval. … Read more »

Trance of “Unreal Other”

May 16, 2014

grass and dew drops and ladybirdsThe truth is: without a genuine willingness to let in the suffering of others, our spiritual practice remains empty.

Father Theophane, a Christian mystic, writes about an incident that happened when he took some time off from his secular duties for spiritual renewal at a remote monastery. Having heard of a monk there who was widely respected for his wisdom, he sought him out. Theophane had been forewarned that this wise man gave advice only in the form of questions. Eager to receive his own special contemplation, Theophane approached the monk: “I am a parish priest and am here on retreat. Could you give me a question to meditate on?”

“Ah, yes.” The wise man … Read more »

I realized I don’t have to believe my thoughts

March 7, 2014

big beech trees in spring timeOur mindfulness practice is not about vanquishing our thoughts. It’s about becoming aware of the process of thinking so that we are not in a trance—lost inside our thoughts. That’s the big difference. To train in becoming mindful of thoughts can help us to notice when your mind is actively thinking, either using the label “thinking, thinking,” or identifying the kind of thought—“worrying, worrying,” “planning, planning.” Then, becoming interested in what’s really happening right here. Coming home to the sensations in your body, your breath, the sounds around you, the life of the moment.

As our mindfulness practice deepens we become more aware of our thoughts. This offers us the opportunity to assess them and … Read more »

A gesture of kindness

October 4, 2013

tara-brachThe next time you find yourself in a bad mood, take a moment to pause and ask yourself, “What is my attitude toward myself right now? Am I relating to myself with judgment … or with mindfulness, warmth, and respect?”

Typically, you’ll find that when you’re anxious, lonely, or depressed, you’re also down on yourself in some way, and that undercurrent of feeling deficient or unworthy is what’s keeping you cut off from your own aliveness, as well as your feeling of connection with others.

The way of healing and homecoming begins with what I call “a gesture of kindness.” You might for instance put your hand on your heart—letting the touch be tender—and send … Read more »

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 »

Live well: Metta meditation helps you see world in kinder way

Jen Mulson, The Gazette: We all could use a lot more metta in our lives.

The Pali (a Middle Indo-Aryan language) word means loving kindness. Metta meditation is a practice that allows you to generate feelings of goodwill and love for yourself, your loved ones, those you feel neutral about and those you find difficult.

Pat Komarow, a local yoga and meditation teacher, will guide a metta meditation at Buddha Day at Marmalade at Smokebrush on Saturday. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to attend.

“It’s so powerful because it’s unconditional,” she said. “It’s foreign to the Western world…

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Buddhism’s big week: Dalai Lama’s visit shines light on its many flourishing forms

Like many Westerners, Mary Bennett turned to Buddhism when the faith of her childhood stopped working for her.

She still wanted a spiritual practice, but one that valued questioning.

“Buddhism encourages you to investigate every piece of information you’re given, and that really appealed to me,” said Bennett, who works in Madison in the field of health care advocacy. “All of us want to be good people, but how? Buddhism provides a path and instruction on how to gain wisdom and compassion.”

It’s a big week for Buddhism in Madison — one of many in the last four decades because of the…

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Buddhism, the Dalai Lama and me

April 21, 2013

Poppy Damon, Varsity, Cambridge, UK: ‘Whether one believes in a religion or not and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion.’ Dalai Lama
When I was 14 I skipped school. It wasn’t to go drink VKS in the park like other ‘kids my age’. I went see the Dalai Lama speak at the ‘Burswood Dome’ in Western Australia, a venue graced by the likes of Elton John and boasting a humungous casino complex. In light of his recent visit to Cambridge and the very valid and interesting discussion that it has caused (for once)…

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Bringing kindness to mind (Day 1)

April 12, 2013

Lotus, isolated on whiteIn one of the Buddha’s teachings on purifying the mind, he said that the basic attitude we should be cultivating can be summed up in the thought:

‘May these beings be free from animosity, free from oppression, free from trouble, and may they look after themselves with ease.’

Traditionally this kindly and loving attitude starts with how we relate to ourselves. If we carry around a harsh attitude inside ourselves, in the way we talk to ourselves internally, then it’s harder for us to have kindness for others.

So apart from doing some sitting metta practice today as part of 100 Days of Lovingkindness, I’d encourage you to cultivate kindness toward yourself throughout the … Read more »

Kindly Awareness

August 1, 2012

If your life feels like a struggle with the world, it may be that your real struggle is with yourself. But if we turn towards our experience with kindly awareness we can find the deepest kind of peace and happiness that comes from within

Mindfulness means paying attention. Simply paying more attention to our surroundings brings many benefits, but something interesting also happens when we also pay attention to the thoughts in our heads and the feelings that go with them.

Many people notice how hard we on ourselves we can be. There’s a constant commentary on everything we do, often including self-criticism, harsh judgments, chivvying and berating. That has an effect and those thoughts … Read more »