Yesterday I had dinner with my wonderful, amazing friend Kateyanne who filled me full of inspiration, love, and spirit. I told her about the morning practice I’ve been trying lately, on my long bus ride into work.
I’ve been reading Pema Chodron’s “The Places That Scare You” (a summary I like is here)- I highly recommend it, as she goes into depth and provides lots of alternatives. I’m only a third of the way done with with the book, but I like to practice things right after I read about them. The essence of what I’m practicing right now is:
“In Buddhism, the practitioner seeks to cultivate four limitless qualities: loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. Of the many bodhichitta practices for acquiring them, one is ‘aspiration’, or wishing well upon others. We wish ourselves to be free of suffering and to find the source of happiness, then the same thing for loved ones. Finally we can extend the practice to a wider circle of people, including people we dislike and others we have never even met.”
So I think about how I feel when I look at the adorable dog on the bus. A smile breaks across my face and my heart swells with love. I think about that feeling, I taste and smell it. I think about myself “May I have happiness and the root of happiness.” I think about my boyfriend and beloved family members and friends. “May they have happiness and the root of happiness.” I look around at strangers on the bus, who I may feel warmly, neutral, or hostile towards. “May they have happiness and the root of happiness.” Then I think about people I resent. I know who they are, because they never leave me, swimming through my thoughts on a regular basis. “May they have happiness and the root of happiness.” By this point, generally, the love-feeling is gone. I don’t mean what I’m thinking. But I make myself think the words strongly. The idea is, I am stretching my heart, practicing yoga for my heart. Once that is done, I sometimes mean it a little more than I did. I often feel a sense of warmth and well being. I sometimes can embrace the thought that I want every living creature, the whole universe, to have happiness and the root of happiness.
I do the same practice with the thought “May I be free of suffering and the root of all suffering” – going outwards in concentric circles of intent and compassion.
I generally have been having amazing days after doing this practice on my bus ride.
Another thing I have been practicing is, when I feel a stab or anger, panic, or fear, I try to just sit with the feeling – to stop telling myself whatever story I am telling myself about that emotion, and just sit with the energy. Look at it, taste it, smell it. Let it be. I am learning a lot about my emotions by doing this.
Kateyanne said it reminded her of ho’oponopono, a wonderful practice I used to do and have forgotten to try lately!