lovingkindness

Which wolf do you feed?

Which Wolf Do You Feed?

by cheryl on February 11, 2014

in 2mindfulmoms

Thoughts from Week 2 of the Real Happiness – 28 Day Meditation Challenge . . .

 

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. 

He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.  One is Evil – It is anger, fear, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

“The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

This Native American Cherokee story was told to me three times in one week, by three different people, in completely unrelated situations.  A message from the Universe, heard loud and clear. I love this story because it  relates so beautifully to the practice of meditation and mindfulness.  We are motivated either  by love or by fear.  The amazing part of a meditation practice is that we can begin to observe our patterns of behavior, thoughts and emotions, to see them for what they really are — fear based acts or acts of unconditional love.   Once we become more aware and see ourselves more clearly,  we can decide how we choose to act — an amazingly powerful process.  The other incredible benefit from a meditation practice is that we can cultivate a different attitude or lens through which we see the world.   We can choose to act from love rather than from fear, and practice creating positive neural pathways (the scientifically researched approach) or practice lovingkindness (the 2500 year-old Buddhist meditation approach).   However one chooses to explain the process, we can choose to act from love rather than from fear.  In doing so, the world becomes a different place (kinder, gentler, more loving), and we begin to move in it with greater joy and greater ease.  So, this week, as I continue Week 2 of my Meditation Challenge, I look deeper at which wolf I feed, and continue to choose love.

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We are thrilled to welcome back Sharon Salzberg to our mindful community for a fall evening exploring Lovingkindness in the Face of Adversity

Wednesday November 13th from 7:00-9:00pm

Mamaroneck, NY (location to be sent upon confirmation)

 

Sharon is one of America’s leading spiritual teachers and authors.  She is cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts. She has played a crucial role in bringing Asian meditation practices to the West. The ancient Buddhist practices of vipassana (mindfulness) and metta (lovingkindness) are the foundations of her work.

During this evening we will explore the power of lovingkindness when we face our own physical challenge or illness, emotional upheaval, negativity from others, or unfairness in how we are being treated. We will look at lovingkindness and compassion as strengths rather than as submissive states, and talk about joining them with discerning action, wisdom, and our often untapped capacity for resilience. We’ll practice meditation along with dialogue and discourse.  Suitable for both beginning and more experienced meditators.

To Register Click Here

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Loving Lovingkindness

Loving Lovingkindness

by cheryl on April 3, 2012

in Meditation

Lovingkindness meditation (maitri in Sanskrit and metta in Pali) is a very powerful type of meditation in which we focus our attention on ourselves and on others with a sense of interest, caring and compassion.  The traditional practice of lovingkindness meditation is done by repeating to yourself:  May I Be safe, May I Be happy, May I Be Healthy, May I Live with Ease.  You can direct these phrases to yourself, to someone you love, to someone you have difficulty with, to a neutral person or to everyone.

In a world in which there is often a feeling of “us” versus “them” or “me” versus “the world,” this practice can be transformative.  It offers us the ability to open our hearts to ourselves and to feel a greater connection to others.  In our daily lives, we are often more accustomed to being critical of ourselves and judgmental of others.  We take stock of our days by listing all that we did wrong, what we could have done better, what we didn’t get done at all,  and how we let ourselves down.  We tend to look at others through that same lens.  Instead, lovingkindness teaches us to look at all that we did right each day, and to focus on the goodness in others.

One challenging lovingkindness practice is to offer kind thoughts to those in our lives that we find most difficult.  The practice helps us to recognize that everyone deserves to be loved and everyone wants to be happy.    By opening our hearts even to those that cause us pain, we can create a new perspective from which we view those difficult people.  It helps us focus on the good that each person possesses, and focus less on the negative aspects of their behavior.  As Sharon Salzberg explains in her book Real Happiness, “Sending lovingkindness to a difficult person is a process of relaxing the heart and freeing yourself from fear and corrosive resentment – a profound, challenging, and liberating process . . .”

This type of meditation also offers us the opportunity to recognize that we are all part of something much larger than ourselves and that we are all inextricably connected to one another.  By focusing on the good in others and sending love and caring to the world, we begin to see ourselves in others and to see others in ourselves, no longer the “us” versus “them” mindset.  Ultimately, this practice will help us live a more peaceful, loving and compassionate life.

When I first learned lovingkindness meditation, I must admit that I thought the whole idea was a little hokey.  Could I really feel such love for myself, for others and for the world?  I decided to give it a try.   For the past couple of weeks, I have been ending my meditation practice with some lovingkindness meditation.  Also, during the day, when I am waiting (which I do a lot of), I decided to do some lovingkindness meditation.  In the grocery store line, in the carpool line, in the school pick up line, I have decided that I would much prefer to share some lovingindness than some of the other thoughts that often pervade my brain – – annoyance, impatience, judgment, planning, etc.

At first, the practice may seem a bit awkward, but I must admit that I have found it to be transformative.  First, I am much less critical of myself.  Next,  I have found it to be an incredibly positive and powerful parenting perspective to take note of what each child does well each day, rather than focusing on his or her shortcomings.   I have noticed that the way I act and react to others, both familiar faces and total strangers, is with much more kindness and patience.  I have had many meaningful moments, usually with people I would have never taken the time to acknowledge in the past because I was in too much of a hurry, that have meant a lot to me.  A shared smile with the Starbucks barista, a kind wave to the person who helped me back up in the CVS parking lot, and a short conversation with the parking attendant in a New York city parking garage, all seemed to brighten my day a bit.  My hope is that is also brightened theirs.

So try practicing a little lovingkindness.  Instead of looking at all that we did wrong each day, let’s choose to look at all that we did right.  What a rare and beautiful new way to look at ourselves and the world!   So, in the spirit of lovingkindness,

May you be safe, May you be happy, May you be healthy and May you live with ease.

More reading on Lovingkindness

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