Something I've had fun doing this season is reading and trying new things. I've pulled books off my shelf that I hadn't gotten around to yet, ordered some new ones, and signed up for a couple online classes. And now they're making their way into my teaching, which is the way it is supposed to be :)
I'm currently practicing three different types of meditation, and I wanted to share them a little more in depth with you here. If you've tried meditation and didn't care for it, I encourage you to try again! Try a different method or have another crack at a style you've done before--you are in a different place now, and that can make all the difference.
Over the next few weeks I will describe or explain three different types of meditation. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it's a good start.
First, I'm trying the Buddhist practice of Shamatha-Vipashyana Meditation. My resource is Pema Chödrön's book Start Where You Are, A Guide to Compassionate Living. Right there on page 5 she digs right in:
"We sit upright with legs crossed and eyes open, hands resting on our thighs. Then we simply become aware of our breath as it goes out."
That was enough to get me curious and hooked on the idea. Simply sit with the exhale. The purpose, Pema explains, is to know ourselves better. How? By being fully present to this moment...and this one...and this one. She is taking us on a journey towards compassion, but it must begin by being present to yourself first. Once we are present, we are no longer escaping those uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that parade around with us everyday, unseen and avoided in our haste. Later she says,
"Only to the degree that we've gotten to know our personal pain, only to the degree that we've related with pain at all, will we be fearless enough, brave enough, and enough of a warrior to be willing to feel the pain of others."
I hear you now, "I know Jess, but haven't we had ENOUGH PAIN these days?!"
Yes, we have.
But have we digested it, assimilated the Truths that come from it, and let go of the pieces that are unneeded? Are you surprised to hear that sometimes we have pain that we so identify with that we fear we won't recognize ourselves without it? Have you noticed that sometimes our pain comes from being in the same situation again, and again, and again? Isn't is strange our life pain might have a THEME?
Sit with your exhale and see how you feel. You might be surprised at what comes up.
If you want some guidance, I talk you through this practice in this week's PODCAST . (Next week in Calm Your Mind, Lift Your Spirits and on the podcast, we will add the second component of labeling thoughts, "thinking.")
But for now, "Be right there with the breath as it goes out." Be brave enough and vulnerable enough to be be still and feel what your heart has to say. Be ready to grow in self-compassion and compassion for all.
May you grow into the warrior of compassion that you were made to be.