730th Week:  Practicing Kindness, Living with An Open Heart

This morning, Krista Tippett aired a 2015 interview with Mirabai Bush, a meditation teacher who became a corporate consultant teaching people mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and how to be more aware of how they move through the world.  Also this morning, a colleague sent me an article on the impact of kindness and how practicing it enhances our sense of well-being. Both of these practices invite us to orient to the heart, to our sense of connection with ourselves and others, and to a more spontaneous and available tendency to be kind.

I’ve mentioned the importance of cultivating heart intelligence and perception in many of these practices and it seems more important now than ever to do so.  All of us, on every side of any political, social, or spiritual/religious spectrum, wants the same thing—to be happy, not to suffer, and to be free from fear.  The Buddhist practice of lovingkindness specifically addresses this similarity within and amongst all living beings.

On my website, there are written meditations that support heart-centered living.  There is one on Lovingkindness on the link below, along with several other approaches that focus on our shared capacity to both suffer and love: https://www.nancynapier.com/category/meditations/page/2/

For this week’s practice, I invite you to explore and then engage, perhaps even more actively than you may have done before, some practice that engages your heart, that engages kindness, and that engages an awareness that other people and beings share your wish that life be less frightening, less stressful, and less filled with suffering. The fact that we cause so much suffering for one another, and the fact that heart-centered living tends to lessen our tendency to hurt each other, makes these practices important additions to other spiritual or health-promoting practices you may already follow.

It’s important to remember that there’s no right or wrong way to do these practices.  They are offered as means by which you can explore how you move through your world, what enhances or detracts from your sense of well-being, which actions bring you happiness and which make you feel bad about yourself.  All of these explorations offer opportunities to learn about what works better for you, not as more ways to criticize or judge yourself.

Always helpful is to have curiosity as a constant companion, as curiosity is a state that’s available when we’re open to explore our world and ourselves.  Holding an attitude of curiosity supports a greater sense of connection with yourself and the world around you.  And, as importantly, it’s a powerful practice to be able to gently pat judgments on the head as they arise, allowing them to move on through without having to engage them in any significant way.  Judging becomes a habit and is rarely a source of useful information, so there’s no need to struggle with it.  It can be just the next thing arising in awareness, allowed to move on through and move on.

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