For those who prefer a visual experience with their meditation, here’s the YouTube version…
This month’s meditation continues our focus on wholeness, how it radiates into and touches everything around us, and our underlying relationship with everything we encounter. It also invites us to acknowledge and appreciate the wide variety of our other-than-human earth-kin with whom we share this beautiful planet.
If you’d like to have images of nature with your meditation, here’s our YouTube version:
As I thought about what to write for this week’s practice in conscious living, I found myself pondering the painful lack of empathy, kindness, and care that seem to characterize our human family’s interactions in my country. It has been quite disheartening to watch people focus so fervently on their own well-being and self-interest. For just one example, to know that countless people are currently losing their homes because they can’t afford rent due to the pandemic is heart-breaking. It’s as though we forget that we’re all in this together and that nothing happens in isolation or outside our collective social life.
This week’s practice may feel heavy if you choose to do it, but it also is a heart-opening and heart-expanding practice. Empathy requires our heart perception, even when it’s painful to go there, as it opens us to an awareness of the experience of others. Deepening empathy also deepens our sense of connection and belonging to a larger community of being. It expands our sense of identity beyond our personal self.
So, for this week, I invite all of us to deepen our experience of empathy. This means being able to imagine how something feels to someone else, to imagine how we would feel were we in their situation. For example, notice how you feel when you imagine that you don’t have enough food to eat today. Or that you are saying goodbye to your home and have nowhere else to go but out on the street.
Empathy can expand to include our other-than-human family, as well, and our earth environment as a whole system. For example, empathy might extend to polar bears who find that their environment is changing so drastically that starvation is a constant possibility, an ever-emerging reality.
Here’s a brief practice focused on empathy and it draws from the Buddhist practice of metta or lovingkindness.Read More “855th Week: Cultivating Empathy”
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 “”
The election in the U.S. and events unfolding in other countries around the world have been sources of anxiety and distress for many people. Sometimes, events escalate to the point where it feels possible to lose a sense of hope for the future. I’ve just finished participating in an on-line forum where we focused on subtle activism and how to engage change in ways of being and acting that don’t feed destructive emotions or tendencies. Read More “Week 660: Accessing Hope”
Here’s our December 2020 audio meditation on mp3…
For those of you who prefer to have images with your meditation, here’s our YouTube version of the same meditation…