How to recover peace of mind + new 10-minute meditationMarch 3, 2020 | Leave a reply
Audio-only version is here.
Meditation practice begins at 11:16
Dear Open Heart Project,
Hello, dear ones! I am so happy to be in touch with you today. I hope you are well and feeling confident in yourself.
These are stressful times, there is no doubt. It can be hard to know where to turn when the news becomes too damn overwhelming. It is common (and very understandable) to make one of three choices:
1. Get depressed and feel out of control
2. Get angry and feel out of control
3. Hide from everything and cede control
I want to say again: each of these are totally understandable and even warranted at times. There are many things to feel sad about. It is really easy to be enraged by the injustice that is all around. And of course there are times when we just want to give up. I’m speaking from experience, by the way. It’s not like I read about these things somewhere.
Last week, I found something that really helped and I want to share it with you.
I was talking to a friend who is experiencing dire circumstances. She lives in a country that is in crisis politically and now also faces a threat to public health. With each detail she shared about how her everyday life is impacted, I became more and more uncertain about what I could do to help. The truth was, I couldn’t do anything. I felt a dark sadness wash over me…then I became outraged on her behalf…and finally, for just a moment, I wanted to turn away. There was nothing I could say…until I heard myself say, Let’s do loving-kindness meditation for each other.
Loving-kindness meditation (sometimes called metta or maitri) is the practice of first wishing happiness and peace for yourself, then offering it to a loved one, followed by a stranger (someone you know but have no feelings about), then to an “enemy,” and finally, to all beings. It is a very beautiful practice. But in this moment, I just wanted to do loving-kindness for her. I also had the intuition that what would be most strengthening for her was not to be on the receiving end of my good wishes, but to send her own loving-kindness to me. We sat together for about 15 minutes, exchanging words like, May you be peaceful…may you be healthy…may all your loved ones be safe… I said what arose in my heart for her and she did the same for me. It was very spontaneous and natural. I stopped trying to make her feel better or give advice about this or that. Instead, we spoke from the heart about what we wanted for the other. I felt strength and balance fill my veins and I hope with all my heart that she did too. My feelings of spinning out of control vanished.
This is what helps: giving and receiving love. It may sound cliche, but it is not. Our exchange was not about saying nice things or building each other up. It was simpler than that. I touched in with what I felt for her and spoke it. She did the same. If it had just been one way–me, the one in the less threatened situation giving what I could–it might have felt patronizing. The equal exchange made it moving and powerful.
So, when you encounter stress and difficulty, by all means, tune into your sadness and anger and give yourself permission to shut it all down from time to time. But you could also look for opportunities to offer loving wishes to a friend, a pet, a country, the planet. The key is to find a way to receive love back. If you look, you will find it.
THIS WEEK’S VIDEO
In the Open Heart Project sangha (the membership community within the Open Heart Project), we are contemplating 59 slogans that train the mind for greater peace, compassion, and wisdom. This practice is more than a thousand years old. Each slogan offers an opportunity to expand the boundaries of your heart. This week’s slogan is the elliptical “In all activities, train with slogans.” Before this week’s meditation, I say a bit about what this means and how you can use it to create more internal balance. Hint: you are are already training with slogans. However, most of our slogans go something like this: You really screwed that up, or It will never work, and the ever-popular You could have done that better. It is possible to exchange these for more helpful slogans! Have a listen to this short talk for more info.
COOL STUFF COMING UP
Today (March 2), the wonderful, learned, hilariously funny Buddhist teacher Michael Carroll begins a nine month online program, Buddhism in Modern Life: The Noble Path of Wisdom and Compassion. It’s gonna be amazing, y’all. On the first Monday of each month, Michael will convene a 90-minute discussion on a different aspect of spiritual practice. This is not about becoming a Buddhist, but about applying these profound teachings in your life in a way that will support whatever path you are on. In between sessions, there are assigned readings and a forum for asking additional questions. All the details (including a detailed curriculum) are here. Classes will be recorded, so don’t worry if you can’t attend live.
This program costs $299 which is a sweet price for all of this wisdom, believe me. (Michael is one of my go-to teachers and I can personally attest to his exceptional insight and kindness.) If you join the OHP sangha, IT IS FREE. Sangha membership is $27 a month and includes this and other programs designed to support, strengthen, and inspire you. Details on sangha membership are here.
Sending so much love. Susan
p.s. Come visit me in Austin, TX June 3-7 for a writing and meditation retreat at my house. JUST 2 SPOTS LEFT. Find out more here.
Upcoming Live Events with Susan Piver:
- Spring Retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center (Red Feather Lakes, CO) March 13 – 21
- Workshop: The Four Noble Truths of Love (Austin, TX) April 18
- The Austin, TX Writing and Meditation Sessions (at Susan’s Home) June 3-7
- The Power of Meditation: Your Life is the Path at Kripalu (Stockbridge, MA) August 7-9
- Meditation as a Path to Love: A Meditation and Enneagram Retreat in Tuscany: September 21 – 27
Upcoming Online Programs: (FREE for Sangha members)
categorized in: open heart project