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Sit : Love : Give

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Bodhipaksa

May 05, 2013

Breaking the boundaries (Day 24)

100 Days of LovingkindnessYesterday I wrote about how, in the fifth stage of the development of lovingkindness practice where we’re cultivating metta for all beings, it’s enough simply to sense the space around you and to allow that space to be filled with kindness. Your mind is filled with kindness. Your mind is aware of the space around you. And so the space you’re aware of is filled with kindness. Therefore, any creature that is in that space will be received kindly. And the same is true for any being you call to mind. You’re receiving them into kindness as they appear in your mind.

I find this helpful when it comes to …

Bodhipaksa

May 04, 2013

The expansive mind of lovingkindness (Day 23)

Lotus, isolated on whiteThe Buddha’s instructions on lovingkindness — at least those that have been passed on to us — don’t include the five stages of cultivating lovingkindness for oneself, the friend, the “neutral person,” the person we have difficulty with, and then all beings. There are some scattered instructions about cultivating lovingkindness toward people we harbor anger toward, but the bulk of the instructions concern what is, for us, the final stage of the practice: cultivating lovingkindness to all beings.

This doesn’t invalidate what we do. The five (sometimes six) stage model has a long pedigree going back at least 2,000 years, and it may be that it goes back to the …

Bodhipaksa

May 03, 2013

The tender heart of lovingkindness (Day 22)

Lotus, isolated on whiteIn previous posts I’ve suggested an approach to cultivating lovingkindness that begins with contacting our innate lovingkindness. Now the expression “contacting our innate lovingkindness” is a problem for many people, because they look inside themselves, don’t see anything at that moment that they could call “metta” or “lovingkindness,” and then conclude they don’t have these qualities. Which can start a downward spiral of rumination and pain: I don’t feel any love; Therefore I don’t love myself; Therefore I must be unlovable; Therefore no one will ever love me; Therefore my life is horrible.

I think almost everyone has experienced that kind of emotional nose-dive.

But I think that when this happens …

Bodhipaksa

May 02, 2013

Lovingkindness: when the rubber hits the road (Day 21)

Lotus, isolated on whiteWhen 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 …

Ashley Davis Bush

Apr 28, 2013

Metta on the go: 6 simple ways to take lovingkindness off the cushion (Day 17)

Lotus, isolated on whiteWhat 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 …

Bodhipaksa

Apr 27, 2013

Love letters to strangers (Day 16)

Lotus, isolated on whiteI’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

Bodhipaksa

Apr 26, 2013

Loving your inner critic (Day 15)

Lotus, isolated on whiteWe 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 …

Bodhipaksa

Apr 25, 2013

Speak kindly to yourself (Day 14)

Lotus, isolated on whiteThe other day I found myself having one of those odd, but common, daydreams where I was complaining to one friend about another friend. I was telling him about a situation where this third party was emotionally cutting me off. The conversation went on for a minute or so, and then I slipped from my daydream back into a more mindful state and realized that what I was saying wasn’t even close to being true. It was almost totally a fabrication. There was a tiny grain of truth, but the reality was completely different from how I was presenting it. I think what was happening was that I was …

Bodhipaksa

Apr 24, 2013

Cocooned in lovingkindness (Day 13)

Lotus, isolated on whiteWe’re almost two weeks into this 100 Days of Lovingkindness, but even after just five or six days the quality of my experience was radically different from usual.

I’ve felt considerably happier than I normally do. Blissfully happy, often. I’ve been much more patient with my children. I’ve been buffered from things that would normally press my buttons. I’ve been cocooned in lovingkindness.

To give you an example, last week I dropped my beloved iPad mini as I was putting it into my bag to head to work. I didn’t notice until I actually arrived at the office, but there was a huge crack right across the screen. Normally I’d …

Bodhipaksa

Apr 22, 2013

Guardian angel meditation (Day 11)

Lotus, isolated on whiteYou know when you’re sitting on a subway and there’s someone sitting directly opposite? It’s kind of awkward — all that trying not to make eye contact, and those embarrassing moments when we get caught looking at them…

There’s something of this sometimes in the metta bhavana (development of lovingkindness) meditation practice. It’s not so bad with the friend, since you’re used to making eye contact with them, but even there is can feel a bit odd to be mentally “sitting opposite” them for ten minutes or so. It’s just not very natural, is it? It’s rather stilted.

For quite a while now, I’ve been doing the lovingkindness practice in a …