Meditation and the qualities of kindness

Millika Chopra

Millika Chopra: Meditation and the Qualities of Kindness

Research has shown that in as little as eight weeks of regular meditation can lead to measurable changes in the brain, especially in the ‘feel-good’ part. When that part of the brain is activated there arises a natural desire to purposefully develop qualities such as kindness, compassion and a desire to serve.

The qualities of kindness and compassion cannot come from outside of ourselves, it will only arise if it part of who we are. As one of my favorite teachers, Ram Dass, put it:

“You can’t offer love until you have love in your heart. You can’t share the way to peace until you are peaceful, nor can you share serenity when you’re not serene. When you have these, you will have the greatest gifts of all.”

Millika Chopra, author and founder of intent.com, held a public guided meditation last month on June 25th, in San Francisco, and during the group meditation, Millika, asked those meditating to contemplate how they could serve the world. Here are her thoughts as she shared them in her post, “What is your intent to serve others?”

“…I asked the participants to contemplate in silence how they can serve the world. I believe this is an important question that we need to ask ourselves every single day.

This is not an easy question to answer and there are no right answers. Serving others requires us to get out of our comfort zones. Serving others requires us to stop living life on auto-pilot and to consciously challenge ourselves to grow into a stronger, more loving and more courageous person. The fate of our world depends on all of us waking up to the greater reality of interconnection and helping others.

I am inspired that so many people consciously chose to meditate in peace and practice yoga in the middle of a busy weekend in San Francisco when they could have been doing so many other things. We need more group meditations for peace. We need more public parades celebrating the diversity of our human brothers and sisters of all colors, religions and sexual orientations. We need more people asking themselves what collective intent for the greater good they are willing to help manifest to bring greater change in this world.

No matter who you are and where you come from, you can be the person organizing the next event or movement in your community that inspires people to bring more peace into this world.

And so I challenge all of you to take the time today — and for the rest of your days — to truly contemplate what your intent for the greater good is. And then see what you can do to help actualize this goal. It can be as small as starting a blog expressing your authentic voice, creating a meet-up group in your neighborhood or organizing a weekly group meditation among your family and friends.

Give other people a venue, a forum, a space — whether online or in the real world — to do good and spread peace. You just may be surprised by how many people show up, eager to join your cause. Your courage just may be what others need to actualize their own collective intent to bring more goodness in this world.” Click here to visit the original source of this post.

I can remember a quote from Bishop Tutu that expressed a similar challenge and desire to Millika’s when he said, “Please make it fashionable to be compassionate.” Through meditation we begin to naturally foster within ourselves the qualities of acceptance, generosity, kindness and compassion, these are the foundational or ground state qualities of the Universe that naturally arise in us as we slip in to the silence.

Seren-i-Tea in the Square Guided Meditation By Malika Chopra, Founder Of Intent.com

A guided meditation lead by Mallika Chopra, founder of Intent.com, at Seren-i-Tea In The Square, a public flash yoga and meditation event at Union Square, San Francisco on June 25, 2011. Presented by Sokenbicha.com and Intent.com.

Is there a Benefit to Befriending Anger with Meditation?

Is there a Benefit to Befriending Anger with Meditation?

Is there a Benefit to Befriending Anger with Meditation?

“I still see anger arise, even after thirty years of meditating. But now, when it does, I can say, ‘Hello, old friend’ and I invite it in for a cup of tea.” ~ Ram Dass

Leslie Davenport begins her post, “Befriending Anger with Meditation and Guided Imagery,” with the observation that “anger has been getting a bad rap for centuries,” but, as she points out a bit later, anger is built into our DNA. There’s a dichotomy that arises on path to self-realization, on the one hand, we feel the need to avoid or control our anger at the peril of damaging all three layers of our being, body, mind and spirit, on the other hand, we understand it’s anger which facilitates the ‘fight’ portion of the fight-or-flight response which is biologically a crucial part of our survival mechanism.

One of the questions becomes, as Leslie put it is, “…what is a healthy relationship with anger, and how can we employ it in daily life?” In answering the second half of that question it raises another, can meditation be of benefit as we approach our shadow issues, such as frustration, anger or fear?

I believe this would be a good place to turn it over to Leslie Davenport, so enter Leslie…

Hot and Cold Anger Distortions

“…Rage: Rage is not just intense anger; it is an aggressive, amplified attempt to offset underlying feelings of shame and inadequacy. It is abusive in words and/or behavior and is used to intimidate, manipulate and control.

Beneath these outbursts are wounds wrapped in shame that often originate in childhood or more recent but traumatic experiences. While any soothing practices such as progressive relaxation and meditation are helpful, these deep experiences are most fully resolved in therapy.

Anger Underground: Anger may run, but it cannot hide for long. Anger can wear disguises, showing up in many indirect and passive ways, including overeating or excessive dieting, oversleeping, being a pushover and self-blame. It can wear a martyrdom face, expose a cold shoulder, shun difficult conversations and seek distraction as a workaholic. This kind of anger is not loud. It is subtle, cool, and just as harmful to relationships.

This anger pattern usually takes root in people who received the message that anger is not acceptable. Perhaps feelings in general were not allowed. Healing begins by first identifying the emotions that are arising and naming them. Free-form journaling is a wonderful way to safely express and get reacquainted with our emotional terrain.

The Anger Habit

Sometimes we dig a neurological groove that traps us in an emotional loop with anger as the response to most situations. This over-reliance on a single emotion is like painting an entire canvas with just one color. It limits the rich palette of feelings that add depth and texture to life, and it blocks our ability to be receptive to new experiences and others’ points of view.

There are many reasons why this occurs. It feels safe to justify being right, and anger emphasizes the point. Some people feel too vulnerable showing sadness, so the emotion morphs to anger. Sometimes feelings get stuck because we haven’t honored an aspect ourselves yet. For others it’s simply that they haven’t been exposed to emotional intelligence. And while there is often a valid point in the anger story, the limited way of way of expressing it doesn’t serve us or the people around us well.

Mindfulness meditation practice is very helpful in expanding our emotional range. The anger groove gets reinforced by repeating outdated story lines — “She’s always…” “If it wasn’t for him, I’d…” “Others have it better…” — and meditation brings us into a different relationship with our mental stories. With mindfulness, the aim is not to deny or silence our thoughts and feelings or impose a superficial peace. But by loosening our investment in our story, fresh perspectives and other feelings can naturally arise in the space that is created.

Meditation Practice: Set aside about 15 minutes of undisturbed time. Bring awareness to your breath and remain present to its flow and rhythm. When thoughts arise, simply notice that they are there without suppressing, judging or engaging the storyline. Just sit with it, including any physical sensations and emotional intensity. Then bring your focus again to your breath. This cycle may repeat several times during your practice.

Anger As Your Ally

Healthy anger is not aggressive, nor is it passive. The formidable center is clear and assertive. It is responsive but not reactionary. Victor Frankl reminds us that, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and freedom.” Awareness is key to cultivating that space for choice.

It’s vital to understand that anger arises from a different emotional trigger. The anger may be in reaction to fear, disrespect, lack of control, loss, feeling unsafe, rejection, hurt, lack of acknowledgment, trapped, intense frustration and more. The underlying feeling is often not visible to others and, depending on the level of awareness, may not immediately be recognized by the person expressing anger.

Guided Imagery Exercise: Try this practice for a deeper view of what lies beneath anger. Close your eyes and call to mind something that makes you angry. Experience the pure energy and sensations of anger. Is there tightness in your stomach or heat on the back of your neck? If the feelings had colors, what would they be? What other qualities are present –weightiness, agitation, impulse to flee or fight? Note the scope and level of intensity of your experience.

Now allow an image to form in your mind’s eye for your anger, letting it capture the full range of your experience. It may appear as a symbol, a memory or simply a shape and color. Even if it doesn’t quite make sense, trust how your anger is showing itself to you. Take a moment to study it and be present with it.

Now imagine “peeling back” your image as though it were a mask or overlay on another deeper image. Meet this new image with curiosity, taking time to get acquainted. Notice its energy, size, shape colors, textures and qualities. How do you feel in its presence? Ask it want it wants. What does it need? Is there anything desiring to be reestablished? Is there anything asking for validation, for protection? What needs to be honored? When the exploration feels complete for the moment, bring your focus back to the room and open your eyes.

This exploration may lead to change — the need for a conversation, change in actions or environment or a shift in attitudes or beliefs. Whatever arises, let patience mature and season your understanding. Through this kind of exploration you just may find that in the right relationship, anger can be a true friend and ally, upholding your safety, valuing your unique viewpoint and advocating for your voice.” Click here to visit the original source of this post

While it may, at times, seem that here at ‘Meditation Benefits,’ I portray meditation as a cure-all, I’m fully aware that it’s not; it cannot suddenly transform all our shadow tendencies into enlightened practices, but it does allow us to become aware of and accept who we are. Realizing that there are benefits to anger, like motivating positive change for us personally and in society, we can use the energy of anger for transformation, inspiration and to benefit others.

“Instead of being a victim of my humanness, I am owning it and consciously choosing to be a human being. And, therefore, when I suffer, when I have anger, jealousy, or self-loathing, I can accept it because these are the qualities of a human being.” ~ Dennis Genpo Merzel

Leslie Davenport is the author of  “Healing and Transformation Through Self-Guided Imagery”

Sally Kempton on “Eat, Pray and Love” and Meditation

Sally Kempton on “Eat, Pray and Love” and Meditation

Sally Kempton on “Eat, Pray and Love” and Meditation

When I sit and become quite and still, I open my heart and see the interconnectedness of things, this isn’t mystical, it’s the way love works. How interchangeable the words, love and meditation, are and when they merge the experience becomes powerful and transformative.

Sally Kempton is one of the best meditation teachers in the world and yet as one would hope from someone who has been studding meditation for over forty years, approachable and unpretentious. I’m saying this in the same with the same caveat that the author of this post, Jean Fain, used, that being, my knowledge of this wonderful teacher has been from a distance, through books, Cd’s and large group meditations.

I’m on my second reading of her new book, “Meditation for the Love of It,” and of the hundreds of books that I’ve read on meditation this one is special and one of the best guides to meditation I’ve had the pleasure to immerse myself in.

Even this interview with Jean Fain, hold insights into approaches to meditation, for example when Sally is asked by Jean, about love and meditation and Sally answers, “Love is what makes meditation juicy, enjoyable, deep.”

I think I’ll let Jean take it from here…

It’s easy to like Sally Kempton, a meditation inspiration to “Eat Pray Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert. Not because Kempton listens carefully or laughs easily, though I’m partial to anyone who can do either in this crazy-busy world. Certainly, her likability has nothing to do with the fact that Gilbert counts herself as one of Kempton’s followers. If anything, claims to fame only raise expectations, making the subject of such claims harder, not easier to like.

No, what makes the beloved meditation teacher so likable is the same thing that makes Gilbert a best-selling author — her special ability to translate subtle life truths into simple, practical and compassion-enhancing lessons.

To be clear, Gilbert has learned from Kempton as I have — from a distance. We’ve both been inspired by Kempton’s written meditations on meditation, but Gilbert has taken that inspiration further. The truth is a little confusing, but to be precise: The ashram Gilbert described in “Eat Pray Love” was founded by Kempton’s original meditation inspiration, Swami Muktananda.

Me, I’ve yet to give Kempton’s new book, “Meditation for the Love of It,” sufficient time. I’m intrigued by what the dust jacket promises: “Practical secrets to help us turn meditation into an unconditional embrace of the fullness of our experience — on and off the meditation cushion.” No surprise, that promise was not fulfilled on first reading. With more time, I’m hoping fulfillment will come.

If you’re reluctant to take my word for Kempton’s likability, consider taking Gilbert’s: “She [Kempton] is not only one of the best meditation teachers in the world; she is also one of us,” Gilbert writes. “She manages to fearlessly explore the outer reaches of the universe without ever losing the warm voice of your dear friend from just around the block.”

Speaking of books, Kempton and I share the same publisher. Because of that, we got to talking about our shared interests: eating, meditating and loving. Before I share select questions and answers from our recent phone conversation, I must say that while we resonate with that old Beatles’ song, “All You Need Is Love,” and we appreciate a heart-opening meditation and a mouth-watering dessert, we don’t see eye to eye on everything. Rather than simply agreeing to disagree, you’ll see that our unspoken agreement is to the open, honest and playful exchange of ideas.

Q. What drew you to meditation?

A. In my late 20s, I realized I didn’t really know who I was. I was following the path of success in NY, and doing pretty well — writing for magazines, dating, known in my circle for being cool — but there was a pervasive feeling of not being satisfied by any of it. It was literally as though my heart wasn’t in it. Even though I was doing everything I was ‘supposed’ to do in life, I found myself asking: “Is this all there is?”

Q. OK, so you were dissatisfied. But you were following in the footsteps of your dad [the late Newsday columnist Murray Kempton.] Why did you trade journalism for meditation?

A. I didn’t exactly trade journalism for meditation. Once a writer always a writer! My writing simply morphed as my priorities morphed… What changed my trajectory was a spontaneous and very radical awakening of my heart, which arrived out of nowhere and shifted my priorities in an instant. The problem was, I couldn’t hold onto the open-heart space because my mind was so unruly. So I started looking for ways to tame my mind, and meditation seemed to be it.

Q. Your story sounds a lot like Elizabeth Gilbert’s. You both went through, how do you put it, a “moderate life crisis”?

A. Yes, she and I have a lot in common. We’re both social observers — we’re both interested in the way society works, love works, relationships work. We’re both radically independent. We were both operating in a male-dominated publishing world – she wrote for GQ; I wrote for Esquire. And we were both drawn to the same kind of [heart-based] spirituality.

Q. Elizabeth Gilbert says your writings have been “life-saving.” Do you know what she means by that?

A. People often tell me that the book inspires them to want to meditate. This is probably what she meant. In the book, I suggest a path of playfulness and experimentation that helps people get past barriers and deeper into the exquisite spaciousness of their inner world. There’s this enormous treasure house inside of us. Most of us get to the door, catch a glimpse, but can’t go further. There was a time in my practice when I reached this same limit in how deep I could go. By experimenting with different ways of meditating, I learned how to go much deeper. What I share in the book is the approach that let me do that along with a lot of practices, some classical, some fairly original.

Q. You prescribe a variety of love-enhancing meditations in your book. What’s love got to do with it?

A. Love is what makes meditation juicy, enjoyable, deep. When love is lacking, I’ve learned in my many years of teaching, meditation can start to feel dry, dutiful, unconnected to our emotional life, and then eventually we don’t want to do it anymore. But if you kindle love in your meditation, it not only makes your practice juicy, it begins to spill out into your actions and interactions with other people. It starts to change the way you are in the world.

Q. Do you have a favorite love-kindling meditation?

A. My favorite is to let the breath draw your attention to the upper chest, behind the breast bone, right to the physical heart. On the inhalation, feel the breath caressing your heart. On the exhalation, feel the breath softening or expanding the heart. As you do this, a tender, loving energy arises.

Q. Living with an open, loving heart in this sometimes cold, cruel world sounds scary and difficult, if not impossible. But you clearly recommend it. Why?

A. When your heart is open, you have infinitely more power. Many students tell me when they make this practice a part of their life, they’re better able to navigate difficult situations. The can speak from the heart; their words have more impact. It helps them deal with an unruly teenager, an out-of-control manager, a lot of situations in which they’d ordinarily be reactive.

Q. You encourage readers to meditate a daunting one-and-a-half to three hours a day? Seriously?

A. That’s only for people interested in a radical experience of depth in meditation. For everyone else, I recommend starting with 20 minutes day. If it’s hard to sit still, start with five minutes, and add a minute a day.

Q. What’s your daily meditation practice like? Click here to continue by visiting the original source of this post

“Eat, Pray and Love” and Meditation, whether you are speaking about Elizabeth Gilberts book or Sally Kempton’s, they are about opening the heart and the expansion of our awareness moving us from self-centeredness to other-centeredness.

This reminds me, Sally has a wonderful CD called the “Awakened Heart,” with two guided meditations, which if you really would like to spend some quality time with one of the most knowledgeable meditation teachers in the world and connecting with your inner presence, I would highly recommend it.

 

Temple Stones – iTeric

A Meditation Benefit written in Stone

Temple Stones – iTeric – Life Music
www.facebook.com – Hi this is a short Demo Video of Temple Stones from the new Meditation CD (Life Music-iTeric) to be released on June 5. Could you please go and press the like button for him
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Blue Fairy – an ambient meditation

Kool Visuals
Blue Fairy – an ambient meditation
These abstract pieces are an attempt to clear your mind by grabbing your attention. I hope they act as a conduit from our fast paced media saturated lives to an inner center where one can then sit and meditate properly. Liquid Vista music here: bit.ly
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Ever So Lonely – Sheila Chandra

A very beautiful and truely spiritual. Take a few minutes and set your spirit free. ᅠ
Ever So Lonely – Sheila Chandra
Mantra and meditative in style, Chandra’s voice is like glass here. T
From: merhlin
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The ocean never refuses the sea. Ever so lonely may be the lyrics and yet warmly ethereal is the emotion.

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A Guided Zen Meditation On The Breath

The practice of watching the breath is an exercise that calms the mind and allows the opportunity for greater focus.

www.wisdomwithmeditation.com Zen guided meditation on the breath. Breathing meditation is the only type of meditation we need to practice if we wish.ᅠ
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The breath is the connecting point between the body and the mind. Every emotion we experience to every action we take influences the breath and the breath can influence the mind and actions.

An example of the breath controlling the mind would be to watch what happens as you consciously deepen and slow your breathing, you will notice a calming of the mind and body.