A little while ago, while I was in the shower, I had a series of realizations.
I was unmindfully mulling over a financial problem, because my bank had messed and moved all my money into someone else’s account, and then I became aware that I was caught up in unhelpful and distracted thinking.
My initial thought was that I was being blown around by one of the “four worldly winds” that Buddhism talks about: gain and loss. We often end up thinking that getting and having stuff is one of the most important things in life, and therefore think that losing stuff is important too.
As long as I’m not starving, loss isn’t really a … Read more »
This week-long retreat is an opportunity to enjoy my innovative and even provocative take on the “divine abidings” or Brahma Viharas — four inspiring and transformative practices that progressively expand our sphere of concern to include all beings.
The divine abidings are a path to insight, blending compassion and wisdom.
On this retreat we … Read more »
This post is taken from one of the emails from our online course, How to Stop Beating Yourself Up: Learning the Art of Self-Compassion, which starts tomorrow, October 1. Click here for more information.
Self-compassion is treating ourselves with the kindness, respect, and gentleness that we would offer to those we most love.
There are four components of self-compassion.
There’s mindfulness, which is the ability to observe our experience rather than merely participating in it and being swept along in it. Mindfulness requires that we stand back from our thoughts, feelings, and sensations, and see them as objects separate from ourselves, rather than as what we are.
There’s equanimity, which involves … Read more »
My forthcoming album of guided lovingkindness meditations, “Harnessing the Power of Kindness,” includes my latest teachings on how to become kinder. It’s the result of over 30 years of practice and of having taught lovingkindness meditation to many thousands of people. I’m perfectly happy to say that I think it’s very effective!
Wildmind is run on a shoestring (all of our courses are offered by donation) and the moment we’re fundraising to cover the production costs of this album, which will be available in CD and MP3 formats. Those costs include the recording and … Read more »
Our Indiegogo crowdfunding project—aimed at helping us to cover the production costs of our forthcoming album of lovingkindness meditations—is getting close to being 100% funded! Please do visit our campaign page to check out the great perks we offer to donors.
Although the Pali word “metta” is most often translated as lovingkindness, I think that the simple term “kindness” works much better.
“Kindness” is a more natural part part of our vocabulary than lovingkindness. We use it all the time in ordinary conversation, while we only use “lovingkindness” when we’re talking about metta. This has the effect of making metta look as if it’s something removed from our everyday experience. (It doesn’t help that, historically, … Read more »
The way to get past not liking yourself isn’t trying to like yourself more: it’s being kinder to yourself.
Last week I was having a conversation with a friend who was experiencing loneliness. She said she liked herself, but she also said at one point, “I have a sweet dog in my life. Maybe that’s all I’m allowed.”
I suggested that she might ask herself whether that was something she would say to a friend who was lonely.
You wouldn’t do that, would you? To say to someone, “Maybe the universe doesn’t want you to have anyone in your life but your dog. Maybe you’re meant to be lonely,” would be very unkind and hurtful.… Read more »
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 »
When I was first taught the metta bhavana (“development of lovingkindness”) practice, back in the early 1980s, I was encouraged to use these three phrases: “May I be well; may I be happy; may I be free from suffering” (altered to “may you…” or “may all beings…” in the other stages of the practice).
I was told that the exact words weren’t important, and that you could use your own phrases if you wanted. But none of the teachers who led the classes I went to ever offered any alternatives, which sent out a message saying that these were the “proper” and “authorized” ones.
But they worked! I remember the first time that I noticed … Read more »
I often receive questions by email. Although I’ll sometimes reply directly to them, it strikes me that the best use of my time is to share my responses publicly, so that others might benefit.
Here’s the question, which came from someone who I’ll call Josh.
… Read more »
For a while now, I have been meditating and my body has remained tense – as I am usually quite tense – but my mind relaxes, but in a negative way; it is as if I begin to mentally and emotionally feel numbed out and lost. I would like to be able to meditate on the tension, on emotions, on really anything that’s going on within me, but I end
I’ve had a lot of opportunity to teach metta, or “lovingkindness,” over the last two years. One thing I’m doing differently as a result is referring to metta as “kindness,” rather than “lovingkindness. The “loving” part of “lovingkindness” doesn’t, to my mind, add anything, but rather takes what’s a concrete experience and makes it seem rather abstract. It’s easy to picture what it’s like when someone is kind to you, but it’s harder to imagine someone relating to you in a way that demonstrates lovingkindness.
The simple word “kindness” seems to be an ideal term to translate “metta.” Kindness, after all, is simply relating to another being in a way that respects their desire to … Read more »