January 22, 2012
Compassion, like gratitude, is something we love to feel. Even though compassion arises as we witness and empathize with another’s pain, it is satisfying to feel this response in our hearts. It feeds our hearts. Hopefully, this new podcast meditation will help strengthen and develop your capacity for compassion, not only for others, but more importantly for yourself.
I recorded this meditation with my local group. You’ll notice voices in the background in one part. I thought about editing that section out, but I had incorporated the noise into the meditation and thought you might enjoy that. When we hear noise as we meditate, the key is to let go of resistance to it and attempts to push it out. Although it’s more pleasant to meditate in a quiet place, we can experience inner silence even in the midst of noise.
Let me know what you experience with this meditation. Hope it serves you well!
May 9, 2010
Some of us react to loss by “shutting down”. We don’t feel we can bear the pain of grief, or we don’t want to risk loving and losing someone again. Rachel, whose comment is quoted below, feels her heart has been “shut for business” since she broke up with her ex four years ago. When she experienced an emotional release in the Opening the Heart meditation, however, she felt hope that she’ll eventually be able to move on and find someone new.
“I felt a significant release with tears when trying this meditation. I split with an ex over four years ago… I haven’t been able to move on at all romantically as I haven’t been able to let go of this past relationship. My heart shut for business to anyone else. I’m really hoping this meditation will eventually help me move on and find love again.”
Rachel has every reason to be hopeful now that she’s been able to start grieving the loss of her ex. If we can grieve a loss fully, feeling the pain all the way through, it leaves us with an open heart that can make new connections. It’s said that the only way through grief is straight into the heart of it. You have to fall into it completely. An open heart is one that can grieve. We can’t really feel love and joy if our hearts are closed to feeling pain. Grief is a natural process that allows us to let go of one relationship and let in another.
Life is full of losses, large and small. Large losses, like losing a loved one, a job, moving, or falling ill, cause us to grieve. But so do smaller losses, losses that we might not even recognize as something to grieve. This really struck me yesterday as I was inhaling the wonderful fragrance of the jasmine flowers gracing my patio. Spring is my favorite season, and the return of the jasmine nourishes my being and brings me joy. But yesterday I noticed that almost all of the buds had already bloomed, and most of the lovely little flowers were on the decline. Lots of spent blossoms were at my feet. I felt as if I wanted to hold on to the jasmine forever, to never let it go. At some point I noticed a tight feeling in my heart. I felt that holding on feeling so clearly and sensed it as a tightening up against life. I felt I needed to let go and when I did, I felt grief. It was a surrender to the inevitability of loss that is part of the fabric of life. In that surrender I felt my heart relax and open. Though I felt sad, in that moment I felt fully alive. I was open to whatever might come next.
My sense is that we can’t let go and be truly open without feeling the pain of loss. What has your experience with this been?
January 5, 2010
Many of us long to have a more open heart, to be able to give and receive more freely. We want to experience more love more easily, but it can be so difficult at times. The heart chakra is the gateway to loving connection with others. At the same time, it contains pain from past hurts. This meditation gives you the opportunity to relax into whatever the heart may hold, allowing held emotions to resolve and the loving energy in the heart to be felt.
The meditation takes you through a number of steps. First you relax. Then you connect with your heart, simply being present to whatever you experience. This is followed by visualization to help you expand the energy of the heart and connect with others. As always, be creative with the visualization and use it a way that works for you.
I’ve had many requests for a meditation for compassion and forgiveness. I do think these will come about, but hopefully this meditation will speak to these themes as well. Both compassion and forgiveness require the ability to be present to pain, our own as well as that of others. Both require an open heart.
I hope the meditation serves you well, and would love to hear about your experiences with it. (Listen to it here.)
March 25, 2008
I’m calling our latest podcast episode “advanced” because to experience the love that the meditation points to requires that your mind be settled enough to notice some subtle experiences. The meditation prompts you to become aware of tendencies to resist what is happening in your thoughts and emotions, and even further to the feeling that underlies those tendencies — a sense of things being not quite right. It’s a sense of not being alright as you are. It’s a sense of life not being alright. It’s at the core of the suffering which is part of the human condition.
Of course, we all like some feelings and experiences more than others. That’s natural. But suffering results when we feel that things should be different, that we should be different — that we should feel differently than we do. When we are able to let go of the resistance to how we feel and stop trying to make ourselves be or feel something else, then what is left is love.
I’m not talking about love in the way we usually think of it. When we say love, we are usually referring to a sentiment or feeling. The feeling of love can be mixed with affection, respect, gratitude, infatuation, passion, all sorts of things. What we usually identify as love is something we feel in response to someone or some thing. The love I am talking about is not an emotion, and it is not dependent on anything. It is the very essence of our existence and reveals itself when we let go of resistance and attempts to manipulate our experience. It is the natural state of our own awareness, of our “beingness”, which is always there in the background but is largely ignored. My hope is that with this meditation, you will be able to recognize and enjoy it.
You may need to use this meditation a number of times before this love is clearly experienced. If you are new to meditation, it might help to try the podcast episode one (Relaxation Break) or the Breath Awareness Meditation until you are able to settle down enough for this meditation.
I’d love to hear your experiences with this meditation. The feedback we’ve received here and at the meditationoasis.com website has been really helpful. And, as always, we welcome your questions.
October 18, 2007
This morning I spoke with a man who called from London (UK) to express his gratitude for my guided meditations. Our local meditation group had just left and I was already feeling quite mellow, but the phone call brought me to a deep state of love and gratitude that has remained with me all day. I was so deeply touched as he related how much our podcast and CDs have helped him. As he spoke, I felt such gratitude that this is happening in my life, that in some mysterious way people receive the same grace from me that I have received from so many teachers and others through the years. It could just as easily have been me thanking him for how much he has enriched my life.
When I sit with my meditation group or to record a meditation, I enter into a meditative state and speak from that place. It seems that those who resonate with my meditations are somehow brought into that state with me. Today on the phone, it felt as if the gratitude my caller was expressing was my own. What a gift to be brought into that state of gratitude! Gratitude is said to be the “highest” possible emotion we can experience. To me, it is an experience of love — not the emotion of love but of the very essence of life itself. There’s no way to describe or understand intellectually what gratitude is, but when we have the good fortune to feel it, it’s good to dwell in it and allow it to nourish our spirits.
April 24, 2007
The YouTube video of Father Bede Griffiths speaking of his surrender in the process of almost dying created a profound state of meditation for me. There’s really nothing I can say but watch it!
Note: Father Bede Griffiths, Swami Dayananda, was a Benedictine monk who became a sannyasi in India. You can read his inspiring biography here.