One of the truly challenging practices for many of us is to live with harmlessness, called “ahimsa” in Sanskrit. A question that arises is, how do we engage the world actively without causing harm? I remember someone once saying that the Buddha said it’s impossible not to cause harm in many small ways, simply by living. We eat other beings as food, we inadvertently step on insects when walking around, we use and then throw away many things throughout the course of our daily lives. And, when it comes to social action, how do we engage that if we have a commitment to ahimsa?
Read More “667th Week: Practicing “Ahimsa”, Harmlessness”
Here’s the October 2019 Audio Meditation:
If you would prefer to experience this meditation with images, here’s the YouTube version:
887th Week: Orienting to Lovingkindness
Note: At the end of this written practice is a recording of the Lovingkindness meditation. Please remember never to listen to recorded meditations while driving or using dangerous machinery.
The practice at the center of this week’s offering is heart-oriented. I’ve written many times about the importance of accessing and listening to the “heart-brain”, as it has a different take on many things compared to what the “head-brain” perceives and understands.
In our current political climate, characterized by a style of interaction that began 30 to 40 years ago, there is a new habit of thinking about the “other” in deeply negative terms with labels such as “devils”, “traitors”, “enemies”. This style of interaction has moved about as far from heart-centered styles of perception and interaction as possible. In the years before the current style of political conversation started, people understood that there are disagreements about policies, but this didn’t lead to a direct attack on the characteristics and attributes of colleagues.
All this got me to thinking about the importance of remembering that we are one human family and that we need each other in order to survive. It also orients me to the practice of lovingkindness, where I can remember and affirm that all living beings want the same thing—to be free from suffering and to be happy. It’s sometimes hard to access this awareness when it feels like we have lost the ability to disagree with one another without an attack and alienation as part of that disagreement.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to orient to lovingkindness, if you aren’t doing this kind of practice already. This means to remember that anyone and everyone you encounter along the way wants the same thing. It can be helpful to remember that people who tend go attack are often being driven by fear.
Here’s one version of Lovingkindness practice that I have on my website:
How to use this Meditation Exercise:
It’s been my experience that doing this meditation once or twice a week, when you have time to really sit with it and enter into the spirit of what it touches, can have a powerful healing effect over time. Doing it regularly in this way creates a state of mind that promotes greater self-acceptance, compassion, tolerance, and ease with ourselves and also with others. It also offers a way to experience and honor mixed feelings while continuing to open your heart. (Note: Doing this practice doesn’t preclude feeling outrage or the need to take action on behalf of social and environmental justice…) If you choose to experiment with this meditation, give it several months to have an effect and notice how you feel as you use it over time.Read More “”