Buddhism and Meditation

Life with Full Attention Week 7


This weeks class at the MK Meditation Association included some Mindfulness of Breathing meditation and after a tea break we continued with our Life with Full Attention Course. Here are the notes from the meeting:

Awareness of Other People

The Buddha lived in a strong social context – he probably could not imagine living in a society with as much isolation as ours.

A Change of Orientation – at the beginning of the spiritual life we are strongly motivated by a desire for personal happiness and freedom from pain. This is natural. As we progress on our path this approach may become limiting or self-defeating.

 

The Buddhist path is about self-transcendence – true happiness comes from liberating ourselves from a belief in a separate limited self. The road to selflessness is altruism – and the way to altruism is other people.

 

Focus on Gratitude – how we feel is determined by what we dwell upon (often the past). Develop positive emotion by focusing on gratitude and forgiveness.

 

- Bring to mind 5 things to feel grateful for. Each day before going to bed bring to mind 5 more – from the day or from the past – mentors, teachers, parents and so on.

-Express gratitude – write a letter, send a postcard or buy a small gift of thanks.

 

Focus on Forgiveness – our “past” is only the experience of memories. Negative thoughts about the past block happiness in the present.  Irrespective of right and wrongs, if we want to be happy we need to forgive. REACH:

R – Recall – remember the event in detail and objectively

E – Empathise – try to understand what happened from the other persons point of view

A – Altruism – remember when you have acted badly and been forgiven

C – Commitment – put it in the world – tell a friend, write a forgiveness letter (you do not need to post it), write it in your journal, create a forgiveness ritual

H – Hold – painful memories will recur – hold tight to your desire and intention to forgive

 

Studies show people who practice forgiveness and not taking offence experience less anger and stress and enjoy more optimism and better health. Forgiveness is a spiritual act.

 

The Buddha: “Patience (with other people) is the highest asceticism”.

This Weeks Practices

 

Spend time with a Friend – go out to someone – arrange to meet up

 

Mindfulness of Others – perhaps Parents or Partners. Notice our intentions towards them – do these cause problems? Can we see them for themselves? Try to notice any habitual reactions. Putting aside expectations emphasise simply liking each other.

 

Focus on Generosity – pre-occupation with the self is painful and a major symptom of depression. Generosity is a simple antidote.

 

  • take an interest in someone – give them some time, ask them about themselves and listen to them.

 

  • give affection or encouragement – tone of voice, a smile, a kindly look or a hug.

 

  • give on a busy day – it’s easy to become self-absorbed when busy. Offer to do little jobs such as making tea. They are probably busy too.

 

  • welcome someone -  a new workmate, a dinner guest or someone returning from holiday. Buy a card, flowers or chocolate.

 

  • volunteer – do something to benefit others. Think in terms of giving back.

 

  • just give – whatever you can – money, time, attention. Cook supper for your partner. Look for any excuse to give money, objects or friendliness. “Give until you swoon”.

 

The Mindful Walk – cultivating awareness of the 4 spheres as usual, at the same time see if you can include the people around you.

 

  • try to notice everyone – not just attractive people

 

  • appreciate diversity – age, ethnicity, dress voices, what people are doing

 

  • how are they – do people look happy or sad, relaxed or stressed? Notice their posture and how they move

 

  • cultivate loving kindness – you want to have a good day, so do they – simply wish them well. Staying in contact with your body generate a sense of kindliness

 

The Mindful Moment  – sitting quietly, tune in to the sensations of the body, look for a sense of feeling grounded. Follow the breathing for a minute or two, notice your thoughts and feelings. Bring a friend to mind. Remember some happy times together. Imagine them relaxed. Remember their smile, try to hear their laugh

 

Meditation – try some metta bhavana. These do not have to be long sessions. Do whatever you can manage. Download a led meditation from Free Buddhist Audio if this will help.

 

Maintain your journal and contact your meditation buddy