Nothing to (Im)prove
Lovingkindness— maitri (a popular form of Buddhist meditation) toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri is about befriending who we are already. It means that we can still be crazy, we can still be angry.
The ground of practice for meditation is whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.
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When we begin to meditate or to engage with any type of spiritual practice, we often think that in some way we’re going to improve, which is a subtle aggression against who we really are.
It’s kind of like saying, “If I jog, I’ll be a much better person.” Or the scenario may be that we find fault with others. We might say, “If it weren’t for my partner, I’d have a perfect marriage.” And, “If it weren’t for my mind, my meditation would be excellent.”
But lovingkindness— maitri (Pali, metta )—toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy, we can still be angry. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.
Sitting meditation gives us a way to move closer to our thoughts and emotions and to get in touch with our bodies.
It is a method of cultivating unconditional friendliness toward ourselves and for parting the curtain of indifference that distances us from the suffering of others. It is our vehicle for learning to be a truly loving person.
Through meditation, we start to be aware of the gaps in our internal dialogue. In the midst of constantly talking to ourselves, we experience a pause, as if awakening from a dream.
We acknowledge our capacity to relax with the clarity, the space, and the awareness that already exists in our minds. We experience moments of being right in the "here and now" that feel simple, direct, and uncluttered.
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Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Meditation is exploring. When we meditate we venture into the workings of our minds: sensations, emotions and thoughts.
Mindfulness meditation asks us to suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness, to ourselves and others.
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. And then I sometimes add, in the service of self-understanding and wisdom.”
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Practitioners of mindful meditation focus their attention on only one thought. The goal is to be firmly affixed to the present moment. This typically means concentrating on the breath - observ...
Buddhists have meditated for literally thousands of years. Buddhists are trying to hack their own minds, to harness them.
Only in recent times have neuroscientists discovered that meditation changes the brain physically.