Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite American holidays. The fact
that this over-commercialized day falls around the same time as Tibetan New Year reminds me to make new year’s resolutions relating to my loved ones, and to renew my commitment to cultivating warm empathetic, altruistic compassion and unselfish goodness of heart, the very essence of authentic love. These resolutions usually involve opening my heart and mind; listening better; learning to forgive and love even those I don’t like; and coming to accept and bless the world, rather than fighting with it or trying to escape from it. Through co-meditating with everything, as it appears; through intermeditation and interbeing with it–rather than against or apart from “it”– I am learning to see thru the illusion of separateness. I also remember groups and individuals who may not feel included in this so-called lovers’ day in our country, including single people and the LGBTQ+ communities. As Zen Master Dogen says: “To study the Buddha Way is to be intimate with all things.” This is true love.
What is true love? How would Buddha love? By seeing every single being, human and otherwise, as fundamentally like himself, and thus able to treat them and love them in the way he or she would be treated. We call this infinitely benevolent, selfless love the invaluable Bodhicitta or the Awakened Heart, the very spirit and soul of enlightenment. One can find this taught elegantly in the “Loving-kindness Sutra”; in Shantideva’s classic “The Way of the Bodhisattva“; in Atisha’s “Seven Points of Mind-Training & Attitude Transformation,” and in The Good Book.
By Constance Kellough, who will be presenting Innerbody Meditation at Hollyhock on July 12-16, 2017.
There are many different meditation practices originating from various spiritual and secular traditions. Most, however, stress the importance of quieting the compulsive thinking mind, which wanders on average 50 times in 5 minutes. This on-going thinking (which is often unsettling, non- productive and not related to what we are experiencing in the present moment) usually emanates from some level of egoic fear and pulls us into the past or into the future.
So instead, we may crave to experience blessed stillness. Why? Because stillness is our natural state; it’s our essential self.
Stillness rises on its own when there is no thought. Eckhart Tolle has said, “Stillness is the language God speaks.”
So how does stillness relate to love? It has been said, “Be still and know that I am God.” Because God is love, one could also say, “Be still and know that I am love.”
When two people are authentically themselves in a state of stillness (some call it “presence”) with one another, they are in a state of love.
Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames. – Jalaluddin Rumi
Wherever you are, please take a few slow, deep breaths into your
belly. Feel your whole body, from your feet all the way up to the
crown of your head, and then down to your fingertips. Please relax any tension you feel and let yourself be. Using each inhalation to open your body and create inner space, welcome everything you’re thinking, feeling and experiencing here in this moment. Please be present to your body and your breath.
Before any form of external commitment can begin or remain healthy, we have to commit to being true to ourselves completely. Until we commit to ourselves – to saying our deeper feelings, values, needs and aspirations matter now – our personal and professional commitments will always result in stress, confusion, struggle or heartache, especially our intimate relationships. If you’re currently having trouble committing to an intimate relationship, it’s important to be kind to yourself as you navigate your next steps. You are feeling this way for a reason. No one wants to feel insecure, fearful, owned, controlled or limited in a partnership. However, it is equally important to become aware of why you feel as you do. For this reason, it’s empowering to know that the main reason we struggle with commitment, whether we’re starting a new relationship or questioning an existing one, is because we still have not fully committed to ourselves, which ultimately entails learning to value and be true to ourselves in all our interactions. This is a major
challenge for all of us, but it’s the only road to lasting peace,
happiness and freedom – whether we’re seeking lasting
true love or not. Continue reading Healthy Commitment to Self and Other→
Trace back in time to identify when the mood began by looking at various past time-frames and determining if you were feeling it then. No matter its magnitude or duration, something upsetting happened that triggered your mood or pervasive feeling. It could have been as simple as an edgy interaction, an intense argument, or change of plans disappointment. Pinpoint the event by asking yourself, “When did I start feeling like this?” or, “When was the last time I remember feeling okay?”
Sam asked himself, “How was I feeling three weeks ago when my friends visited from out of town? How about last weekend at the wedding of his college roommate? How about Wednesday evening?” As he checked in about how he felt at various points in time, a light bulb went off in his head. Sam realized his mood started Wednesday morning after his wife made a snide comment about how he never did anything around the house. At the time he didn’t say anything, but pulled away emotionally and started feeling distant. Voila. That was the culprit.
Alan Clements is an author, activist and meditation teacher and trained with Mahasi Sayadaw and U Pandita in Burma. He is passionate about humans rights and has been a long-time supporter of Burma’s nonviolent campaign for freedom, justice, and democracy. Alan co-authored The Voice of Hope, a collection of conversations with Burma’s Nobel Peace Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi.
It is a personal passion of mine to bring our spiritual practice into the world, so I was looking forward to hearing the insights of someone who has fully lived a potent combination of spiritual practice and social change.