Published on Jan 29, 2016
This meditation explores the nature of ‘I’, and develops to explore the arising of the world within Consciousness as a sacrifice.
Published on Jan 29, 2016
This meditation explores the nature of ‘I’, and develops to explore the arising of the world within Consciousness as a sacrifice.
We search for some other moment, a moment we imagine will be more fulfilling, more profound, more free, more meaningful… And yet, it is only when we demand something from this moment, when we imagine what’s here is somehow not quite enough, that we experience this heartache of incompleteness and then set about to find its resolution. But we have another choice than to live this way. We can experiment with another possibility, the possibility that this moment, exactly as it is, is actually enough.
In “Searching for Rain in a Monsoon,” we are invited through a series of meditations and inquiries into an exploration of this possibility, that this moment is the miracle we’ve been seeking. After all, the fact that this moment even exists at all is truly beyond comprehension. Without asking or demanding anything from our momentary experience, without insisting it be better, more profound, more fulfilling, or more anything, we can discover a depth and profundity, a richness and fulfillment that has always been here—here, in this very instant, the only one we will ever have.
Along with “Searching for Rain in a Monsoon,” John Astin is also the author of two other collections of poetic and prose reflections on the nature of human awareness and the search for happiness, “Too Intimate for Words” and “This Is Always Enough.” Along with his writing, he is also a singer, songwriter and recording artist who since 1987 has produced seven CDs of original music including his most recent release, What We’ve Always Been. In addition to his music, writing, and teaching work, John holds a PhD in psychology and is an internationally known researcher in the field of mind-body medicine, where his research has focused on the applications of meditative-contemplative practices in psychology and health care. For more information about his work please visit: http://www.johnastin.com
The Effortlessness of Everything
Published on Dec 17, 2012
Even if in the subtlest of ways, we often imagine that in order to realize greater clarity, peace or awareness in our lives, some (or maybe a great deal of) effort is required. However, in this meditation, we are invited to consider a different possibility, to notice how effortless life can actually be, how no effort is required in order for us to exist, how no effort is needed in order for awareness to be, how the senses and the body all function quite beautifully and naturally with no effort needed to make it so. http://www.johnastin.com
March 15, 2016
A radical approach to mindfulness—combining an ancient meditation technique with leading-edge theory, resulting in a powerful new method of self-transformation.
With practical teachings and detailed instructions, Ken Wilber introduces Integral Mindfulness, a new way of practicing the widely popular meditation. Integral Mindfulness applies many of the leading-edge insights of Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory–the first system to combine Eastern teachings on the five stages of awakening with the eight major Western models of human development, thus portraying the complete path of human evolution. In addition to all the benefits to body, mind, and spirit that standard mindfulness meditation confers, practicing Integral Mindfulness promises a more powerful approach to personal transformation and brings within reach the fullest experience of Enlightenment possible.
Beginning with as little as fifteen to thirty minutes of daily sessions, the meditator can gradually expand from there by slowly and easily adding significant aspects of the practice. Meditation instructions and step-by-step guided contemplations are given in detail. Readers learn how to create a graph to track progress and discover natural strengths and potentials. The book also offers recommended readings and resources to facilitate further study.
KEN WILBER is the founder of Integral Institute and the cofounder of Integral Life. He is an internationally acknowledged leader and the preeminent scholar of the Integral stage of human development. He is the author of more than twenty books, including A Brief History of Everything, A Theory of Everything, Integral Spirituality, No Boundary, Grace and Grit, and Sex, Ecology, Spirituality.
Redefining Enlightenment – Ken Wilber
Ken talks about the need to redefine enlightenment and what it really means and does it very well actually.
From time to time, we all have moments when we feel completely and blissfully alive; moments when the world around us becomes more real and beautiful, when an atmosphere of harmony seems to pervade everything, when we feel one with nature and a feeling of intense well-being fills us. These are sometimes called spiritual experiences, or higher states of consciousness – but I prefer to call them ‘awakening experiences.’
I believe that normal human consciousness is a kind of ‘sleep’ which we wake up from in these moments. Most human beings are asleep in the sense that we normally perceive the world in an automatic way, so that a lot of time we don’t pay attention to our surroundings, and aren’t able to sense the is-ness and alive-ness of the world. We are asleep in the sense that we see all things as separate to each other, and experience ourselves as separate entities, as egos enclosed in our mental space with the rest of the world ‘out there.’ In sleep, life appears meaningless, and the universe can seem an indifferent and even hostile place.
But in my book Waking From Sleep, I suggest that this state of sleep is a psychological aberration, and it is natural and normal for us to be ‘awake.’ Many of the world’s indigenous peoples live in a state of wakefulness: they naturally possess(ed) a heightened perception, a sense of the aliveness of things and, an awareness of spirit-force pervading the world. Young children are naturally awake too. They see the world in a much more real and intense way than adults, experience a powerful natural well-being and often have intense spiritual experiences, where they become one with the world, or see it pervaded with an intense spiritual radiance.
As we grow into adults, we lose this natural wakefulness. This is due to the development of the ego. Our adult egos become too strong and powerful; they give us a strong sense of individuality and separateness, and so create a powerful barrier between us and the world. As a structure, and through their constant activity, they use up a massive amount of energy, leaving little energy available for us to put into perception, resulting in the automatic perception I described earlier. The development of the ego creates a ‘fall’ away from the natural wakefulness of children and indigenous peoples.
However, human beings have always sensed that their normal consciousness is limited and sought temporary awakening experiences. In Waking From Sleep, I examine the methods which we have used throughout history to induce the experiences: e.g. fasting, sleep deprivation, psychedelic drugs, meditation, nature, sex, sports and music. I also examine the paradox of how the experiences can be triggered by intense mental and emotional turmoil, and how the simple presence of an enlightened person can generate them.
I suggest that awakening experiences have two basic sources: they can be caused by a dramatic change to our normal physiology or brain chemistry (e.g. through fasting, sleep deprivation or drugs) or through what I call an ‘intensification and stilling of life-energy,’ through meditation, yoga, general relaxation, listening to music, etc.
If we know what causes them, we should be able to generate awakening experiences whenever we desire. But ultimately, we need to make wakefulness our normal state again. We can attain a permanent state of wakefulness by creating a new state of being in which our life-energy is permanently intensified and stilled. This means changing the structure of our psyche, so that the ego is no longer as powerful, and no longer monopolises our energy.
In Waking From Sleep, I suggest five essential practices which will change the structure of our psyche and create a state of permanent wakefulness: meditation, mindfulness, moderation, detachment and service.
We need to wake up for ourselves, to become free of the illusion of separation and of the psychological discord which fills our lives with suffering, and so that we can stop squandering our lives and our potential in discontent, anxiety and conflict. We need to wake up for the sake of the human race as a whole, in order to free ourselves from the social chaos and conflict which have blighted the last few thousand years of history. The only possibility the human race has of living in harmony – without warfare, inequality, and the oppression of women and different ethnic groups and social groups – is through transcending the over-developed ego which gives rise to conflict. We also need to wake up for the sake of the earth. The only sure way to avoid ecological catastrophe and learn to live in harmony with nature is to transcend our sense of separation to it, and become able to sense its alive-ness and sacredness.
View Here Steve Taylor’s
Waking from Sleep: Why Awakening Experiences Occur and How to Make them Permanent
Published on Nov 12, 2015
A conversation about resistances in the body.
Light Upon Light is a book to touch the heart, and awaken the spirit. It takes the lives of some of the great spiritual masters of the last millennium, from Rumi, to twentieth century saint Darshan Singh, and illuminates their inner quests. More than simply biography, Light Upon Light delves into their perceptions of the world, the innermost workings of their minds, and the life incidents that led them to enlightenment.
In this sense Light Upon Light is not about the spiritual path; it is designed to take the reader and carry them into the spiritual path, and perceive the wisdom of the masters from within. While author Andrew Vidich PhD has exemplary academic credentials, he writes from the heart, and calls the reader to a direct experience, a “felt sense” of the core of these masters’ teachings. He also emphasizes meditation as the universal constant taught by all masters, and has provocative exercises in each chapter to stimulate self-reflection, contemplation, and to give the reader experience of practical meditation techniques. This is a book to be treasured by both long-time spiritual students, and those new to the great masters of the path.
Andrew Vidich, PhD, is an internationally recognized author and educator. A resident of New York, he has taught religion at Manhattan College and Iona College, and is a founding member of the NY Interfaith Council. He has studied meditation for 35 years, and is the author of Love Is a Secret (Aslan, 1994).
Andrew Vidich: Spiritual Resurrection–Becoming Beings of Love and Light
Each one of us must eventually leave this material world to journey onward to the spirit realm. Speaker Andrew Vidich explores the true meaning of resurrection? Through meditation and appropriate guidance, we can learn how to fly heavenward on the wings of our “light body.” The true meaning of resurrection is to become what we already are: beings of love and light. Become a living embodiment of the resurrection. 2014.
From running an orphanage to being a political adviser, from being held in a prison cell to living in a crowded city, meditation has changed people’s lives. Be the Change is a fascinating exploration of how meditation can not only awaken our latent potential, but also transform the world, creating the foundation for a caring and compassionate future.
As a prisoner in a Chinese jail, Kirsten Westby was able to find solace by sitting quietly in contemplation. Deeply affected by walking on the moon, astronaut Edgar Mitchell went from exploring outer space to discovering the vastness of inner space. Coping with HIV, Mark Matousek found healing through group meditation. Seane Corn used her yoga and meditation expertise to work with child prostitutes in LA.
In the last few decades, people in all walks of life have begun to realize the profound benefits of meditation. While this ancient practice is personally transformative by calming the mind and reducing stress, awakening the heart, and deepening insight, can meditation also change the world for the better? We invited many of today’s most notable voices explore this issue, reflecting on how looking within has resolved issues such as anger and fear, inspiring them to work toward a more caring and peaceful future.
Be the Change was conceived in response to a need to make sense of what is happening in the world at large. We wondered, “Could something as subtle and understated as meditation also have an affect on business, conflict resolution, or politics?” And on an even wider scale, “What change could happen if something so simple were to become a global movement?”
Interwoven among our own thoughts on the subject are the words of more than one hundred meditation practitioners from various walks of life, from Ellen Burstyn—Oscar award-winning actress—to Jon Kabat-Zinn—director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, from Marianne Williamson—bestselling author and renown inspirational speaker—to Richard Davidson—Professor of Psychology at Wisconsin University.
Enlightening and inspiring, Be the Change is essential reading for all who desire to make a difference in their own lives and in the world.
From the foreword by the Dalai Lama: “I strongly recommend anyone interested in meditation not to simply read what these people have to say, but to try it out. If you like it and its useful to you, keep it up, and if it isn’t, just leave it. Treat this book as you would a cookery book. You wouldn’t merely read recipes with approval, you’d try them out. Some you’d like and would use again. Like cookery, meditation only makes sense if you put it into effect.”
From the foreword by Robert Thurman: “Thank goodness Ed and Deb have so beautifully enfolded the gifts of all the fascinating individuals in this book, within the moving stories of their own lives and transforming experiences! In this living book Ed and Deb have masterfully woven the many voices into a symphony—the insights and stories harmonize and contrast with each other in a marvelous rich flow that is both calming and energizing, creating a single collective yet selfless voice.”
Ed and Deb Shapiro are the award-winning authors of 16 books on meditation, personal development, and social action. They are featured bloggers for HuffingtonPost.com, Intent.com, Care2.com, and Oprah.com. They teach meditation workshops worldwide, and work as corporate consultants. They are the creators and writers of the Daily Chillout inspirational text messages on Sprint cell phones. Their books include: Your Body Speaks Your Mind, winner of the 2007 Visionary Book Award and finalist for the Nautilus Book Award; Voices from the Heart, with contributors such as President Gorbachev, the Dalai Lama, and Bishop Tutu; and Meditation: The Four Step Course to Calmness and Clarity. They have taught meditation and personal development for over 25 years. They currently reside in Boulder, Colorado.
Spirituality – The 7 Principles of Spiritual Practice ~ “Meditation”
Starting with a personal anecdote of a moment of being shocked into awareness by Brugh Joy in 1975, Richard describes the essential need to develop the witnessing capacity of the aware ego — observing and feeling what arises in our bodymind while remaining in non action.
Published on Oct 12, 2015
David grew up on the SW coast of Canada. In the mid-70’s, he discovered the subject of consciousness, then Transcendental Meditation (TM). This was quite a revelation. He quickly became a keener, avidly attending many talks and courses. Nine months after starting TM, he arrived in NE France for a 6 month retreat where he would train to become a teacher of TM.
After 3 months with lots of purification and clearing, he had sporadic witnessing experiences where awareness shifted briefly into an observer mode. Then in the second 3 months, the lights came on. With a blinding flash of white light (which he much later learned was makara), the witness became permanent, throughout waking, dreams and sleep. At first, he was over-attentive, keeping the mind awake to observe sleeping and manipulate dreams. But quickly that settled into a simple continuity of awareness underlying all experience.
Soon after that, the first re-cognition happened, a form of experience where everything about the object is known. This enlivens that principle in consciousness, making it easier for still others to have the same. In this case, it was hiranya gharba or the golden egg – the seed and origin of the universe. It took months to unpack it. Perception continued to unfold from there. At the end of the course, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi confirmed the experiences and said there would be much more.
As David returned to normal life, it became clear that Self had woken internally but had not woken up to Itself in this form yet. Self co-existed with an identified ego. But subtle perception continued to unfold in a myriad of ways.
David’s life grew into career, marriage, and family. Inner development continued but took a back seat for a number of years to the usual demands of a householders life. This helped ground and integrate what was unfolding and culture the platform further. Then in 2005, life made several unexpected changes. The spiritual side of life again moved to the forefront. He reconnected with some old friends. A few it turned out had become Self-Realized.
After some feedback and darshan with Lorne Hoff, Self at last woke up to Itself here as well. Probably because of the long witnessing, this was quickly followed by a series of profound shifts in Being. And that in turn by transcending Being into Brahman. The unfolding continues.
http://www.lucialorn.net/ [link Lorne Hoff]
http://davidya.ca/2014/01/25/stages-o… [link “a series of profound shifts”]
Accompanying this process, writing began to help integrate what was unfolding. Then the call came to share those discoveries on-line under the nickname Davidya. David was present for and helped support the awakenings of many others, leading to a broad understanding of the varieties of this process. The writing evolved into a large blog discussing many of the aspects of the approach, shift, integration and embodiment of transpersonal stages of development, otherwise known as enlightenment. In 2011, David obtained a graduate degree in Vedic Science. He anticipates releasing a first book on transpersonal stages later in 2015.
David has a professional background in software design and development in several industries but now works mostly with WordPress. For this interview, rather than listening from the mind to a story, I invite you to take a different approach. Settle back into presence and notice the talking and the listening. Give the content less weight and notice the experiencing itself. This is where the magic is, in simple awareness.
http://davidya.ca/2015/08/06/the-valu… [link “a different approach”]
When the path ahead is dark, how can we keep from stumbling? How do we make our way with courage and dignity? “Inside each of us is an eternal light that I call ‘the One Who Knows,’ writes Jack Kornfield. “Awakening to this wisdom can help us fin dour way through pain and suffering with grace and tenderness.” For anyone seeking answer during a trying time, he offers “A Lamp in the Darkness,” a book-and-CD program filled with spiritual and psychological insights, hope-giving stories, and guided meditations for skillfully navigating life’s inevitable storms.
The practices in this book are not positive thinking, quick fixes, or simplistic self-help strategies. They are powerful tools for doing “the work of the soul” to access our inner knowing and to embrace the fullness of our life experience. With regularly practice these teachings and meditations enable you to transform your difficulties into a guiding light for the journey ahead. Join Jack Kornfeld as your trusted guide as you explore:
· Shared Compassion-a guided practice for planting the seeds of compassion and opening the heart to all that life brings
· The Earth Is My Witness-a meditation to establish firm footing in the midst of darkness, centered by a steady witnessing presence
· The Practice of Forgiveness-what Jack calls “the only medicine that can release us from the past and allow us to truly begin anew.”
· The Temple of Healing-a guided visualization to meet our own inner healer
· Equanimity and Peace-a meditation for maintaining balance and acceptance regardless of the situation
Just as it is certain that each life will include suffering, explains Kornfield, it is also true that in every moment there is the possibility of transcending your difficulties to discover the heart’s eternal freedom. With A Lamp in the Darkness, he offers you a beacon for yourself and others until joy returns again.
Jack Kornfield, Ph.D. co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, in 1975 and later, the Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California. He holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. His books include After the Ecstasy, the Laundry and the national bestseller A Path with Heart (over 100,000 copies in print).
Table of Contents
Foreward by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Introduction: An Invitation to Awaken
1. The Wisdom of Our Difficulties
2. The Earth is My Witness
3. Shared Compassion
4. Awakening the Buddha of Wisdom in Difficulties
5. The Practice of Forgiveness
6. The Temple of Healing
7. The Zen of an Aching Heart
8. Equanimity and Peace
9. Your Highest Intention
10. The Four Foundations of Mindfulness and the Healing Journey
Afterword: The Return of Joy
If you’re reading these words, you’ve probably hit hard times. Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one, or maybe you’ve lost your job, or received a difficult diagnosis, or someone close to you has. Maybe you’re divorcing or you’re in bankruptcy or you’ve been injured, or your life is falling apart in any number of ways. Maybe daily life itself has become too much for you.or not enough. But even in the best of times there’s plenty to worry about: seemingly endless wars and violence, racism, our accelerating environmental destruction. In difficult times, personally or collectively, we often begin to wonder not only how we can get through this difficult patch; we begin to question existence itself.
Jack Kornfield: 12 Principles of Forgiveness
The acclaimed author and teacher explains the principles that are integral to the process of forgiving, according to Buddhist philosophy.
Published on Sep 25, 2015
The experience of the head and the experience of seeing, hearing.
How to Relax into Life as a Living Meditation, More Fully and Enjoyably as You…
This cherished collection of invitations supports you in practical and profoundly human ways to become more awake to yourself and the world of your experience. Embracing topics such as trust, love, blame, attraction, anger, self-remembrance, abundance, and many more, these “reading meditations” demonstrate how available it is to awaken more deeply to the present moment, here and now. No need to go off to a cave in the Himalayas! Rediscover how to live in acceptance of “What Is,” how to access the experience of oneness in any given moment, and how each and every aspect of who you are, no matter what, benefits you directly in this sacred process.
Canela Michelle Meyers has been supporting people to Awaken to themSelves (encompassing all aspects of the human experience as opportunities for expansion) in Transformational Satsang gatherings since 1999 worldwide. “Right Here, Right Now Meditations” is offered as a direct support to Awakening to, and embodying, the Truth — this that is available to all people, no matter what they know, don’t know, or how long they have been looking, or not looking, for “This That Is.” To learn more about the author, visit http://www.CanelaMichelle.com.
Canela Michelle Meyers – ‘Recognising Truth’ – Interview by Renate McNay
This is a story of awakening. Canela Michelle Meyers guides us through different experiences where Awareness was knocked wide open. She takes us through the adjustments in her body and in her life that occurred thanks to these experiences till the shift to the Awakened State of Being happened. Canela is the author of Right Here, Right Now Meditations.
ALSO VIEW HERE on the interview with BATGAP
“What’s wrong with me?” So many of us regularly experience feelings—such as shame, loneliness, self-hatred, or just a general sense of deficiency—that give rise to this question. For over 35 years, clinical psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Brach has worked with people to relieve this kind of emotional suffering and guide them toward spiritual awakening.
Brach is the founder of the Insight Meditation Community in Washington, DC, and author of True Refuge and Radical Acceptance. She spoke with S&H about feelings of unworthiness, working with these painful feelings, and healing in relationships.
Tell me about the “trance of unworthiness.”
When people start looking more closely at the reasons that they’re having a difficult time feeling close to other people, they often realize that it’s because they are not liking themselves. Over the last few decades, I have found that the deepest expression of suffering that we have—especially in the West—is this sense that “I’m not okay. I’m deficient. I’m falling short in some way.”
A woman once told me about being with her mother while she was dying. Her mother came out of a coma and said, “All my life I thought something was wrong with me,” and then she went back in the coma and died. For this woman, it was the greatest gift to hear that. So many of us spend huge amounts of our lives feeling this way—sometimes it’s a very explicit dramatic sense of being damaged goods, and other times it’s a subtler layering of judging ourselves. We’re not good enough. We’re falling short. We should be doing something better. Whatever level this is happening on, when we are turned against ourselves, we cannot embrace our world with an open heart.
How does this feeling of falling short affect our lives?
It affects everything. It is affecting this conversation right now that you and I are having. There’s some monitoring going on: Am I doing my job? Am I likable? Am I going to make a good impression?
This background doubt in every communication makes it hard for us to do any number of things, such as take a risk at work. It can also drive addictions because we feel anxious about failing and have to soothe ourselves. Most dramatically, we can see it in our relationships. You can’t be intimate with someone else unless you have a capacity to embrace your inner life. Whenever we’re with other people, if we’re not feeling aligned with ourselves, there is some part of us that is always trying to get approval or avoid being judged.
Where do you think these feelings of unworthiness come from?
Each of us grew up with set standards—provided to us by our caregivers and the larger culture—that informed us how to act in order to be loved or respected. I should look a certain way. I should achieve certain things. At work we have these ideas of what it means to be successful, and we’re always rating ourselves and other people. We have ideas about what it means to have a good personality or what it means to look good. The larger culture has very explicit standards on what it means to “make it.”
To the degree we judge ourselves as less than, there’s this gap between the standard and our sense of self that weighs us down, and we can feel it in our body. Some people say, “Well, it’s just a belief,” but the belief we are falling short has a physical correlate—shame and depression show up in our bodies, for example.
The culture is particularly toxic for those who aren’t in the dominant culture, because they most clearly don’t meet the standards. Marginalized people—such as people of color, certain ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender orientations—often have this sense of not being good enough, which runs very, very deep.
Earlier you mentioned that these kinds of feelings manifest most dramatically in our relationships. That makes it sound like feelings of unworthiness are closely related to feelings of loneliness. What advice would you give to somebody who feels lonely?
First, I would like to say that loneliness is a more attuned way of paying attention. When we feel that we’re not measuring up, we feel estranged. Feeling lonely is a deep and painful experience. And, actually, if you can get to even being able to name it, that means you’re pretty far along, because it usually takes some digging.
If you can name it, then you can begin to bring a healing presence to it. That’s the reality. So let’s say you’re stuck with this kind of vague sense that something is wrong with you, and it’s very deep and it’s hard to begin to work with it. If you can say, “Right now I’m feeling loneliness,” then this is where we can begin to bring in really powerful, radical tools of practice. We can lean into the feeling, name it, and open up to it with a real interest. We can ask, “What does lonely feel like? Where is it in my body? Where do I feel it the most? If my face could make the expression of lonely, what would it look like?” If you make the expression with your face, that will then reconnect you even more in a somatic way to the rest of your body.
Then see if you can really go right inside the lonely feeling. If the lonely feeling could say, “Here’s what I most want in this moment,” what would it be? The core question is what does that lonely place most need from you right now?
So we don’t push the lonely feeling—or whatever feeling it is—away. It sounds like a process of accepting the feeling.
Yes. When we’re at war with ourselves—and in some way blaming ourselves for how we are—the true place of transformation is when there’s a rousing quality of self-compassion and self-forgiveness. You can say, “I forgive this loneliness.” You’re not saying this is bad, but that you forgive it. What you’re really saying is, “This is the inner weather system right now, and I forgive it or let go of any resistance to how it is. I remove any blame, or any aversive kind of quality.” It’s a very tender letting be of what is.
When we teach our workshops, the practices of self-forgiveness and self-compassion are right at the center. Because you can’t be mindful of an emotion—let’s say loneliness or fear—if there’s a part of you that is blaming it. So there needs to be a quality of softness in the heart. There needs to be a tender space that makes room for what’s there in order to have a true mindful presence with it.
That’s why I often talk of the two wings of presence: mindful attention and heartfulness. Mindful attention is clarity about what’s happening in the moment, and heartfulness makes room for it with kindness.
But let’s say you’ve done something truly awful. Then aren’t we right to beat ourselves up a little?
Well, there’s a very important difference between wise discrimination and aversive judgment. We all need wise discrimination. We need to be able to move through our lives and look at our own behaviors and others and know what is creating harm and what is moving us toward healing. We need to be able to discriminate and say, “No, when I act like that—when I speak in that tone of voice to my child, for example—that causes shame.” That’s wise discrimination.
To say, “I’m a goddamn asshole. I can’t believe I did that.” That’s aversive judgment. And it does not serve to make war on ourselves for what we feel is harmful. In other words, if I have spoken in a shaming tone of voice to my son, for me to then shame myself does not make me more likely to be respectful in the future. Punishment doesn’t work. We know that. We know it doesn’t inspire our children or show them a way to grow and learn when they’ve behaved in ways that aren’t wise. It doesn’t work with criminals either.
It’s inevitable that we’re going to be imperfect. We all cause harm. We sometimes cause harm in ways that are very, very hard to forgive ourselves for. But it’s not until we can be with ourselves in a forgiving way that we can do the healing that actually inclines us toward being more helpful and healing for others in the future.
There’s a metaphor about this that I often use when I’m teaching. Let’s say you’re going through the woods and you see a dog by a tree and you reach down to pet the little dog, but it leaps at you with its fangs bared to attack you. In that moment you go from being friendly to angry at the dog. But then you see that the dog’s paw is in a trap. Then you shift from being angry to saying, “Oh, you poor thing.”
It’s just like when we’ve caused harm, or when someone’s caused us harm. There’s a leg in a trap. People do not cause suffering unless they’re suffering in some way. Being able to see that doesn’t mean that I then stand there and let the dog attack me. We still do what we need to do to protect ourselves, but it gives us the quality of heart that lets us respond to the situation in a much more compassionate and intelligent way.
How can we begin to have self-compassion in those moments when we are feeling very down on ourselves?
I’ll give you an example. Once I was working with a mother whose daughter was getting into drugs, and her grades were plummeting, and so on. This woman came to me because she was so angry with her daughter, and the angrier she got the more defensive her daughter got. So they were in a really bad standoff. When I started working with her, I asked, “Under that anger, what’s going on?” She went right into a place of shame, saying, “I failed her. This is happening because I’m a bad mother. I’m a terrible person.” She was really down on herself.
So I asked her to tell me how long she had been feeling that sense of failing another person, and she said, “All my life. I feel like I failed my mother. I failed my partner.” Then I asked, “What does it feel like when you feel like you’re failing someone?” She described it as this deep sense of hollowness and ache. Then I asked her what it’s like to know that she has spent so much of her life feeling like a failure. Then she had what I sometimes call this, like, “ouch” moment that’s kind of like a soul sadness. She saw the shape of her incarnation, how many life moments were lost to self-hatred.
At that moment, I asked her to get in touch with that part of her that felt so low and see what that feeling needed. She said, “It needs to feel some kindness.” So I had her put her hand on her heart—and I do this often because it’s so opposite of how we usually relate to ourselves—so that she could relate to herself with tenderness. And I had her offer the words that would be most comforting to her own place of feeling shame and hate. She ended up using a phrase that she had heard from me, which is “I’m sorry, and I love you.” It’s a phrase that I actually heard from a Hawaiian healer who offers it to himself and to everybody else.
That became her practice. Whenever she’d get caught in feeling that sense of failure, she would put her hand on her heart and just say, “I’m sorry, and I love you.” Eventually she’d end up softening, and her sense of identity would shift.
She went from identifying as a bad person and a failure to having a feeling of compassion that’s just holding the pain. That freed her up in a way that allowed her to begin to imagine her daughter’s pain and sense what her daughter was going through. She was sending that message to her daughter until there was actually a visceral thaw and they began to start communicating.
It sounds like we need to work on ourselves before we begin to work on our relationships. But it’s so common to look to our friends, family, and lovers to do something to help us feel better. Is that an unwise approach?
My understanding is that we’re wounded in relationships, and we heal in relationships. The relational field can be very healing. But it can only be healing if we are simultaneously in a relational field with our inner life. So I think both are really intrinsic processes of waking up and becoming free.
So often in spiritual life you hear people saying, “You can’t look toward other people, and you have to be your own guru and healer and holder and lover.” But the truth is that other people matter. It makes a huge difference if there’s someone else in your life who is a mirror of your goodness, who can sense with compassion your vulnerability, and with whom you’ve learned to let love in and learned to express love. That’s an incredibly necessary part of the process.
But none of that is possible unless you’re simultaneously in an engaged relationship with your inner life. By that I mean that if you imagine the thing you think is the very worst about you—let’s say you feel like you’re intrinsically selfish, or you feel like you have an aggressiveness that’s just disgusting to you, or you feel that in some way you’re so insecure that nobody in the world could love you—whatever it is, it’s being able to take what seems to be the worst part of yourself and finding a tenderness and a forgiveness that can hold that. That’s the process of befriending our inner life and it’s absolutely essential.
Of course, being in a relationship with another person who can see the part of ourselves that we hate and still love us no matter what helps us in that process. So it’s very synergistic.
So does all this mean that you personally have an enlightened relationship?
I have a wonderful, rich, and juicy relationship that is in process. One where I am regularly exposed to my neurosis and also regularly reminded of the oneness, the awareness, and love that are our shared belonging.
Do the two of you talk about the nature of your relationship frequently, or does it just sort of unfold without intervention?
Twice a week, we have a check-in where we will sit and meditate for 20 minutes. Then we continue the meditation as a kind of interpersonal sharing where we will look at what’s going on for each of us as individuals. And there’s an inquiry that we phrase like this: “Is there anything between us feeling loving and open and at home with each other right now?” And then we look to see, and we’re really honest with each other. At some points, if there’s something going on and we’re less than honest, then there’s suffering. So we are training ourselves to speak the deepest truths that we can, because the more we name what’s real, the more intimacy there is.
That kind of conversation sounds like it takes a lot of self-awareness and courage.
It takes a lot of courage. What gives that courage, however, is practicing and creating a safe space and having some guidelines. We didn’t just stumble into it. We both have been meditating, offering counseling, and guiding couples and groups in conscious communications for years. But there are some basic intuitive guidelines about creating safe spaces. For instance, when one person speaks, the other person will mirror back what was said to make sure it’s understood before going into their response or reactions.
In that process of mirroring back, there’s space for the person who spoke to be understood in the deepest way. So you get to understand where that person’s leg is in a trap and touch into compassion.
You know, self-awareness is something that seems key to having healthy relationships. And yet, some of my favorite moments in relationships are when other people seem to know me better than I know myself.
Our self-awareness grows in the relational field when there’s mutual attentiveness. If you say something, and I really am listening, then I can have an understanding that I can mirror back that can actually enhance your own experience of who you are. That kind of relational feedback process is so juicy! I mean, that’s what we’re in it for: to become more of who we can be. And people can help us unfold when they both see our goodness and create a safe space that lets us express it.
With all your years’ experience working with couples, what do you think are the most important qualities of a good relationship?
The essential ingredient in a good couple’s relationship is that it provides a fertile field for awakening our hearts. This means there is a mutual willingness and dedication to speaking truth and opening to compassion. There are many qualities to creating that fertile field—respect, self-awareness, love, generosity, humor, and more—but the bottom line is, are we committed to being fully who we are? Are we committed to living from the fullness of our hearts and awareness? Are we committed to bringing out that fullness in each other?
When we come to see our relationships—all of them—as an intrinsic part of our spiritual path, then each day becomes alive with moments of learning, opening, serving, and savoring.
Looking through the Eyes of a Wise and Caring Friend
Bring to mind a relationship where you’ve treated another person in a way that is difficult to accept or forgive. You might start with something that doesn’t trigger full-blown self-hatred, so that you can gradually build your skill in this process.
Now, invoke the presence of a good friend, healer, or teacher—someone who understands and cares about you. Imagine looking through this person’s eyes at yourself: What was the vulnerability—the hurt, fear, or confusion—that might have driven you to the hurtful or unwise behavior? Can you see the life circumstances that contributed to the behavior? While witnessing with this person’s eyes and heart, sense the natural compassion that arises. Now, fully inhabiting your own body and heart, imagine hearing the witnessing person saying with kindness, “It’s not your fault.” Let those words sink in and trust that if you let go of self-hatred and self-blame, you will have more capacity in the future to live true to your heart.
Each time you find yourself trapped in self-recrimination, explore looking through the eyes of a wise and caring friend. By learning to let go of self-blame, you actually will become more able to respond to others in a wise and loving way.
For more guided meditations and talks from Tara, please visit tarabrach.com.
Sam Mowe is the Communications Manager at the Garrison Institute in New York, a nonprofit dedicated to exploring the intersection of contemplation and social action. Tara Brach will be coleading a retreat at the Garrison Institute on December 4–6.
Source: Spirituality & Health Magazine
Published on Sep 19, 2015
Awakening from Trance – Embracing Unlived Life (08/26/2015)
When physical or emotional pain is too much, our conditioning is to pull away and avoid direct contact with raw feelings. The result is a trance – we are split off from the wholeness of our aliveness, intelligence and capacity to love. This talk explores how this dissociation shows up in our lives and a powerful way that mindfulness enables us to integrate cut-off parts of our being.
In his second book, Energy Healer and Transformational Coach David Bennett uses contemplations to develop a center of focus in meditation and during daily life. The contemplations in this book provide a subject for serious thought or consideration into the reader’s divine nature. Unlike other meditation techniques that look to empty the mind, contemplations intently focus on an idea about something while in a state of stillness or when being mindful. Reflective meditation involves repeatedly turning your attention to a theme but being open to whatever arises from the experience. Deep and lasting wisdom comes from experience so A Voice as Old as Time gives contemplations that allow the reader to calmly plant the seeds of transformation that works to expand their consciousness. The wisdom of contemplations is a voice as old as time thus the title of this book. Contemplations like these have been spoken by our ancestors before and still hold the wisdom today for those ready to listen.
A Voice as Old as Time evolved from the daily contemplations that David posts on his Facebook page DharmaTalks and the work he does helping others on a path of spiritual transformation. Many times while posting reflections and while writing this book, David found that the contemplations and life crisscrossed in unexpected ways. Many people that follow his daily contemplations online reported similar experiences. The book can be used in daily practice and/or as a divination tool to see what reflective energy is needed in life at any particular moment for the user. Working with reflections helps the reader make empowered choices that imbue their lives and relationships with real substance and depth.
In A Voice as Old as Time, the contemplations are arranged into forty-four brief chapters in a natural progression toward spiritual maturity and awakening—from finding and knowing yourself, to living in love and eventually finding purpose. Throughout there are woven-in common themes like connecting to your divine essence, using loving intentions, and gratitude while on the journey we call life. David writes from a common premise of everything is alive with spiritual energy of love, the eternal flame that is found everywhere and in everything. Anyone can access the wisdom of their true nature so they can face life’s many decisions with empowerment, clear vision, right action, and a sense of purpose. A Voice as Old as Time is a tool of focused meditations and mindfulness that can be used during anyone’s journey toward spiritual transformation, a tool that can assist in living more purposefully, more authentically, and more joyfully. The purpose of this work is not to express any special philosophy or doctrine, but rather to give bits of truth that resonate with any belief system and assist the reader with their passage.
A public speaker and teacher, David Bennett has lectured twice at the International Conference of IANDS (International Association for Near-Death Studies) and shared his inspirational message at numerous groups across the country including Lillydale. David’s passion includes working with experiencers and cancer survivors to integrate their Spiritually Transformative Experiences as a Transformational Coach and an Energy Healer. He has consulted for both radio and television, including Oprah and Dr. Oz as an NDE resource, appearances including being filmed for Dr. Oz, TLC Angels Among Us, NBC national news, PBS, and appearing on Coast to Coast AM with George Noory and many radio shows. David’s articles appear in various magazines, blogs and papers: you can find David’s daily contemplations of living an empowered life on Twitter and Facebook.
David is currently the leader of Upstate New York IANDS, where he runs a monthly spiritually transformative experiencer support group and bi-monthly public meetings. He serves on the planning committee for NearDeathExperiencers.org, helping coordinate the 2006 through 2015 Near-Death Experiencer Spiritual Retreats in St. Louis, MO. David serves as an advisor to the Board of Directors of the American Center for the Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences (ACISTE) in Alpine, CA, where he has become a Certified Spiritual Transformation guidance counselor. David has a private practice as a Transformational Coach and Energy Healer. He offers workshops on using Contemplations for Spiritual Awakening.
Experiences in the Light & Visions of the Future
David Bennett — web site http://dharmatalks.com/
Book “Voyage of Purpose: Spiritual Wisdom from Near-Death back to Life” — http://www.amazon.com/dp/1844095657/
Presented at the IANDS 2012 Conference, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, in Scottsdale, AZ
Abstract: I had two near-death experiences (NDEs) that showed me my future and during the integration of those experiences I was able to see the potentials of what lies ahead for our world and humanity. I will briefly share the portions of my veridical experiences that dealt with the future and then relate the communication I received about potential struggles and possible solutions. I would like to challenge the audience to look at the bigger picture of the world we live in today, realizing that only a few environmental disasters could push our already stressed social, political and economic structures into a very serious condition. The governments of the world could not support their citizens and communities in the ways we have come to rely on. Yet, the spiritual community embodies the qualities to overcome these challenges. Also, through my connection in social media I have found there is hope in the message that spiritually transformative experiencers (STErs) around the world are conveying. I will share the ways given to me to circumvent these dire conditions and begin to deliver support that will reduce the stressors before a crisis occur.