Monday, June 6, 2011

The Challenge: Week Four

For the last week of our meditation challenge with teacher Sharon Salzberg, the focus is on lovingkindness.

For most people, this is a little different focus. It may also be a term that's new.

Lovingkindness is simply cultivating feelings of love and compassion while in meditation. First, we do this for ourselves, and then we do it for other people.

"Sometimes, I describe concentration as steadying our attention, and mindfulness as refining our attention, in that some of the things that normally clutter up or distort our attention get cleared away," Sharon says. "Lovingkindness I often describe as opening our attention or playing with our attention in that it is an experiment in paying attention in a different way."

There are a couple ways of doing this.

"If you have a tendency to look at yourself at the end of the day as though to say 'how did I do today?' you might remember only the stupid thing you said at lunch at the meeting. So much so that your sense of self collapses around the stupid thing you did."

"The practice of lovingkindness is to say 'did anything else happen? Anything good?' The bad is not all we are, ever."

We're looking at ourselves in a different, more compassionate way. "We're challenging that collapse, that identification with only what is wrong with us."

We can do lovingkindness with other people, too, and the book has a lot of ideas around this.

"An example might be all the people we disregard, looking through other people who don't count, not in prejudice or bias, but through indifference. We ask ourselves what happens when we really pay attention to this person, when we really look at them, when we really listen instead of ignoring them. The practice of lovingkindness is doing this with ourselves and with other people."

I'm new to this practice, but have found it incredibly powerful. It has helped me see myself and other people in a more loving, generous way. I hope it is the same for you, and that you have enjoyed this meditation journey and will continue it.

Please feel free to comment here or on the Facebook page about your experiences.


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