The key to a happier life is learning how to suffer better

January 14, 2018

Photo by Dawid Zawi?a on Unsplash

One of the Buddha’s key teachings — arguably the key teaching — is the four noble truths, which tell us 1) that suffering happens, 2) that it happens for a reason, which is that we cling, 3) that it’s possible for us to reach a state where we don’t suffer (nirvana), and 4) that there are practices that help us to attain that state.

Although these four truths, or facts, might suggest that we can somehow learn to avoid suffering, what’s really required is that we learn to deal better with life’s sufferings, because they are inevitable. In other words, we need to learn to get better at suffering. It’s not that we should seek … Read more »

To be less conflicted with others, be less conflicted within yourself

December 15, 2017

Photo by Natalie Collins on Unsplash

When we experience conflict with or ill will toward another person it’s obvious that there’s something about them that causes us pain or discomfort. But it’s less obvious that it’s the feelings that arise within us that are key; when we have hateful or critical thoughts we’re reacting not directly to another person, but to our own pain.

Our ill will toward another person is really an inability to deal with feelings within ourselves that we find uncomfortable.

The purpose of hatred is, ultimately, to drive away the supposed source of the problem: the other person. If we’re unpleasant to them, we assume, they’ll go away and leave us alone. But this doesn’t work when … Read more »

Loving and supporting whatever is difficult within you

November 30, 2017

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash.

Someone wrote to me yesterday, saying that as she was getting into her spiritual practice, anger was starting to arise:

I have very recently started my journey towards freedom of suffering at the hands of myself or others. It would seem as though it has turned into an anger issue with me. So I am looking forward to any suggestions that may help me get to my centered, grounded, healing, happy place.

This can happen. As we’re leaving our comfort zone, fear can be triggered. We can also become more sensitive to the body as we practice meditation, and so we feel our feelings more strongly.

My own experience is that anger is a response … Read more »

“Make Peace With Your Mind,” by Mark Coleman

March 28, 2017
Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Indiebound.

Mark Coleman is a senior meditation teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California, as well as an executive coach and founder of the Mindfulness Institute. And he’s written a very rich, readable, and practical book on the practice of self-compassion.

Although we’ve never met, Coleman and I started our spiritual paths in similar places. Back in 1984, while I was throwing myself into Buddhist practice at the Glasgow Buddhist Center, Coleman was doing the same at the London Buddhist Center, both of which are part of the Triratna Buddhist Community. Our spiritual paths, even though they have diverged since then — I’m still practicing within Triratna while he … Read more »

Self-compassion is not self-indulgent

February 7, 2017

grey wolf

One common concern about self-compassion is that it’ll make us lazy and self-indulgent — that if we become more self-compassionate we’ll lack motivation. Self-indulgence means avoiding difficulties, which may benefit us in the short term, but which is detrimental in the long term. Self-indulgence is when we cop out. So we might imagine that when faced with doing something difficult, being “kind” to ourselves means that we’ll let ourselves off the hook. But that’s the opposite of what actually happens.

Self-compassion means giving yourself support, understanding, and encouragement when you face difficult experiences. It helps you to face your difficulties.

Self-compassion recognizes that your long-term happiness is served not by avoiding challenges, but in offering … Read more »

The components of self-compassion

September 30, 2016

sunflower like the sun in hands isolatedThis 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 »

Don’t try to like yourself. Just be kind to yourself

July 18, 2016

girl holding flower

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 »

Lovingkindness: Connection before cultivation

July 15, 2016

homepage

At the moment we’re fundraising to cover the costs of bringing out our newest CD, “Harnessing the Power of Kindness,” (publication date August 2016) which of course will also be available in MP3 format. We’re asking people to buy a copy in advance to help us pay for the upfront costs. Here’s a link to our Indiegogo crowdfunding page, where you can read about the perks we’re offering to donors.

One of the emphases in the guided meditations on this album is what might be called connection before cultivation. Basically this is the principle that cultivating kindness (or lovingkindness, if you prefer) is easier and more effective when we first connect empathetically with … Read more »

Self-Compassion workshop in Chicago, July 31

June 17, 2016
self-compassion in Chicago
Click on the image to download a PDF flier.
Learn the Revolutionary Art of Self-Compassion

Bodhipaksa, founder of the online meditation centre Wildmind (www.wildmind.org), is facilitating a workshop on the art and practice of self-compassion, in Chicago on July 31, 2016.

Do you give yourself a hard time when things don’t go the way you plan? Do you find it hard to accept your faults? Do you criticize yourself a lot? Do you give yourself a harder time than you would ever give a friend or family member? If so, you’re not alone—and you might benefit from practicing self-compassion.

Research has demonstrated that those who rate highly on self-compassion scales are psychologically healthier … Read more »

Why you should ditch self-esteem for self-compassion

March 29, 2016

close up of an african american baby hand in mother's handIn the field of education it’s common to assume that self-esteem and academic performance are closely linked, and that if you want to maximize students’ potential you need to boost their self-esteem.

Its also common to hear that bullies are people with low self-esteem, and that if you want them to be more respectful of others then their self-esteem needs to be boosted.

Most of this received wisdom has been shown to be highly questionable, or even untrue. It seems that people who do well academically have high self-esteem as a result—not the other way around.
And I’m sure almost every student can think of times they were convinced they were going to fail an … Read more »