Just like me MEDITATION - Sympathetic Joy
When you believe that the only happiness you can enjoy is the happiness experienced by a single human body-mind (namely, the one you refer to as “me” or “mine”), then happiness is a limited commodity. When you realize that you can enjoy happiness that’s arising anywhere at all, and, in fact, that there’s no good reason not to do this, then the reservoir of happiness becomes boundless. You also come to know, that " just like me" everybody wants happiness, and everybody deserves it, who is willing to give it!
All grounds for jealousy and stingy competition collapse, along with the hollow edifice of “scarcity mentality.”
You realize that, from the perspective of the universal body, the joy and happiness of any one cell contributes to the joy and happiness of the entire organism, and hence all of its other cells.
Seeing this clearly is the key to the door to unlimited happiness.
And here it is, in the palm of your hand.
A meditation for you
Set a timer on your phone for five minutes to begin. ( you can work your way up to 10 minutes of longer in later sessions. )
Place the timer next to you. Settle in, using the guidelines here.
1. Rejoice in the accomplishments of the great teachers. Bring to mind someone who you deeply admire for their positive contributions to the world. Rejoice in this person’s accomplishments. Let yourself feel totally inspired by what they have done. Generate devotion and genuine appreciation for their awesome activities. Celebrate their goodness. Feel that you’re a member of this esteemed person’s family, enjoying fully the happiness created by those good deeds. Wish for these good deeds and the joy they create to only increase. Wish for more and more people to benefit from them. Feel the joy within your body and mind as you continue to resonate with the happiness associated with this great being.
2. Feel happy for the happiness of all living beings. Bring to mind examples of happiness within the lives of people you know or have heard of. Let yourself feel happy for even the smallest moments of joy they experience. Feel happy for your neighbor, who’s been stuck inside with the flu but is now feeling better. Celebrate along with all the people in the world who right now who may be experiences a moment of joy in their lives. Feel happy for the young child taking delight in blowing bubbles in the backyard on a warm summer day. Celebrate the first word spoken by a recovering stroke patient. Wish also that their experience of happiness increases. Wish that they one day become free from suffering and established in causeless joy. Feel a current of delight within your body and mind as you continue to resonate with the happiness of all living beings.
3. Notice how you feel. When your timer goes off, relax, take a couple of deep, slow breaths, and take note of any feelings or sensations that may have arisen.
When you meditate long…the glory of the Divine shines forth. You realize then that all along there was something tremendous within you and you did not know it. —Paramahansa Yogananda
Tips and Suggestions
Feel free to continue this meditation for as long as you’d like. It can build and deepen in very sweet ways. Although there’s no limit to the number of people in whose happiness you can rejoice, it’s good to begin with instances from the lives of those who are closest to you. Then expand it to include the happiness of more distant acquaintances—and then, finally, to all living beings.
This way, your sympathetic joy is vast, while also grounded in your daily experience. And if at some point waves of joy permeate your body, don’t stop there; keep your intention with pure Presence.
Let the ocean of joy merge with this peace.
We are not interested in anything that comes and goes. Don’t abide in things; abide in the sweetness of things. Don’t hold onto anything. Let sweetness hold you. —Francis Lucille,
Letting Go of Thoughts MEDITATION
In this meditation, you’ll be cultivating what’s sometimes referred to as the “witness consciousness” or the “energy of mindfulness.” It’s the part of you that is able simply to observe thoughts and internal images as they arise and dissolve without getting caught in them.
Think of the thoughts and images as waves on the surface of an ocean—and the part of you that observes them as the deepest part of the ocean. Even in the midst of a raging storm—with towering waves crashing and churning—the depths remain calm, still, and silent.
You might also think of the images and thoughts as the characters in a movie, and your awareness of them as the theater screen upon which they appear.
Does the screen get emotionally involved in the plot of the movie?
Does the screen have an intellectual or political agenda?
Does the screen get infatuated with certain characters and hate others?
No, the screen is an absolutely neutral witness, while at the same time being the true substance of the characters, and hence infinitely intimate with them.
A meditation for you
And now set your timer for five minutes.
Place the timer next to you.
Settle in, using the instructions here.
1. Notice the contents of the mind. Turn your attention inward, and begin noticing the contents of your mind: the internal chatter, or mental dialogue, as well as the images on your internal screen.
2. Label thoughts, images, and rest. In this practice, you’ll be using three labels. Each time you notice a thought, label that thought as “talk.” (State the label internally to yourself, in a friendly, kind, and matter-of-fact voice.) Each time you notice an internal image (a picture in your mind), label that image as “image.” When neither thought nor image is present, label that stillness or gap in mind activity as “rest.” As you label the thoughts and images, maintain the attitude of a detached but kind observer, almost as though you are saying, “Hello, thoughts,” or “Hello, images,” in a friendly and relaxed way. Make no attempt to change the thoughts or images. Simply observe and label them with this attitude of benevolent indifference. On their own, they will arise, abide for a certain amount of time, and then dissolve.
Remember: If you get distracted, just notice that this has happened, enjoy the “magic moment,” and bring yourself gently back to the practice.
3. Notice awareness itself. Now turn your attention toward the part of you that is noticing and labeling the thoughts, images, and stillness or gaps. In other words, shine the light of awareness on awareness itself. Try to get a sense of who or what it is that’s actually doing the noticing. This is the part of your mind that remains forever untouched by its contents, or by the thoughts and images arising within it.
Explore these questions:
Does this awareness have limits?
Does it have a boundary?
Can you locate its edges and step beyond them?
Is there a difference between the awareness that is being observed, right now, and the awareness that’s doing the observing?
4. Notice how you feel. When your timer goes off, take a couple of deep, slow breaths, and take note of any feelings or sensations that may have arisen.
We should never forget: What we are looking for is what is looking. —Wei Wu Wei,
How did that go?
Were you able to tune in to the contents of your mind and apply the labels? Did you notice that the contents of your mind (the thoughts and images) are in constant motion?
This is an insight into impermanence of phenomena, which might feel a bit unsettling, but can also be hugely empowering. Because things are constantly changing, it’s futile to hold on to them, to expect them to remain unchanging.
On the other hand, it’s precisely because things are changing that transformation and healing are possible.
What did you discover about awareness itself? Is it limited in any way? Is it bound by space or time? Does it come and go in the way that thoughts and images do? What are its inherent qualities?
These are all very interesting questions to explore, so let yourself be curious about them. Don’t worry too much about getting specific answers.
These will arrive—some verbally, some intuitively—in their own time. Just give the questions space to dance within your heart and mind. Let them draw you into their mystery and reveal their clarity when they (and you) are ready.
There’s no hurry. Perhaps you also noticed that the thoughts and images about yourself (that is, your self-image) are also continuously transforming.
This is another intriguing insight into impermanence. Your self-image, like all other images, is open to continuous revision, creative enhancement, or complete dissolution.
It’s the “me” character in your movie. Just remember: The screen of awareness is the true actor, who just happens now to be appearing in this role. Success is guaranteed. Imagine a being made completely of salt who decides to go for a swim in the ocean in search of salt and ends up dissolving completely—and then playfully reforms, filled with joy over its discovery.
Meditation is similar:
What we’re looking for is already who we are. Meditation, like a swim in the ocean, helps us to realize this. What dissolves is the idea that we are separate from the ocean. What we come to understand is that the ocean is within us, always. That’s all there is to it. All thoughts, perceptions, and sensations appear in silence. We have to be open for this silence, this Presence, to be limitless, to be infinite, to be an utterly different dimension—to be just one Presence, aware in each of us and in all sentient beings. Open to the possibility that this same
Presence creates a unique universe from the vantage point of each being, so that we can enjoy this extraordinary video game of life, which is so beautifully interactive that we have these tools called bodies in order to play the game from the inside. —Francis Lucille,
Flowing into the Gap MEDITATION
Imagine standing on earth, seeing a sky filled with clouds. It’s somewhere in windswept, England—which means that clouds are the sky’s default setting. You’ve lived here all your life. Then one day, something miraculous happens. You see a patch of blue emerging from the silver-gray. Initially you think, What a beautiful blue cloud that is!
You can’t imagine it being anything else. Then another blue cloud appears, and then another. And they merge together. All of a sudden, it dawns on you that what you’re seeing is not a blue cloud, but rather sky.
For the first time, you’re seeing the sky in its natural state. For the first time, you recognize that the clouds you’ve been seeing all of your life have a background of sky.
This story illustrates the dawning of mindfulness: the transition from identifying with thoughts to simply observing them floating through the sky of your awareness. There are three stages to this process:
(1) standing on earth, looking up, and assuming that the sky is nothing but clouds (that is, believing that the patterns of thought and emotion define who you are essentially);
(2) realizing that sky is the background of clouds—that clouds arise and dissolve within the sky (that is, tuning in to the awareness aspect of your being, which is the dawning of mindfulness); and
(3) shifting your point of view from that of someone standing on the earth and looking skyward to that of actually being the sky through which the clouds are floating (and then noticing that the actual substance of the clouds is nothing but sky).
Another way of describing this third phase is that you come to understand that monkey mind is simply an aspect of the energy of Wisdom Mind. In other words, the monkeys, in their essence, are none other than Wisdom Mind: they are no less divine than any other “thing” in the You-niverse!
Toggling back and forth between these two points of view (looking at the sky and being the sky) is kind of like the well-known optical illusion of seeing two faces looking at each other in profile, and then seeing a vase outlined in the space between them. Both are there in the picture. Which one you see just depends on the angle of your glance or who knows what else. It kind of just happens, though there are ways of gently inviting the transition. In this practice, you’ll play with making this transition.
A meditation for you
Set your timer for five minutes.
Place the timer next to you.
Settle in, using the instructions here.
1. Notice a thought or image. Become aware of a thought or an internal image appearing like a cloud within the sky of your awareness.
2. Notice the thought or image dissolving. At some point, the thought or image will dissolve. Notice this happening.
3. Hang out in the gap. As the thought or image dissolves—like a cloud dissolving into the sky—dissolve with it, and then simply hang out in the space that remains. At some point, another thought or image will arise, at which point you can repeat the process: noticing the thought, noticing it dissolving, and then hanging out in the gap between the thoughts.
4. Notice how you feel. When your timer goes off, relax, take a couple of deep, slow breaths, and take note of any feelings or sensations that may have arisen.
Though this practice is simple, it’s not necessarily easy. So be patient, gentle, and kind with yourself. There’s no hurry. It’s here for you to play with whenever you feel inspired. As you cultivate the capacity to flow into the gap, your compassion will naturally deepen and expand. You’ll notice that it has two distinct flavors:
(1) compassion in relation to the particular physical, mental, and emotional difficulties that folks are experiencing—you wish they could be free from these unpleasant circumstances—and
(2) compassion in relation to the belief that such difficulties define who the person is, essentially. You wish for them the spacious understanding that knows the circumstances are fleeting and ephemeral, like clouds passing through the sky.
“Control is an illusion! Trying to control everything will drive you insane. You cannot predict the outcome. Don't set yourself up for disappointment. Don't attach to control or outcome. You can't fight every battle. You won't win every battle you fight. Don't torment yourself. Don't live a tormented life. Flow with, not against. Keep trying, keep moving in a positive direction. Keep learning, growing. Never give up. Keep helping yourself.”