During the month of February, challenge yourself to participate in MMC’s 28-day meditation program. It’s simple: Commit to meditating each day and connect online to share experiences – pleasant, difficult or otherwise. We will follow the meditation program outlined in Sharon Salzberg’s book, “Real Happiness.” This blog will be your guide, including links to helpful Web sites and guided meditations. Meditation can help with overall wellness, pain, stress, anxiety, sleep and concentration. This is your opportunity to start a new practice to enhance your wellbeing or to continue your practice in the company of your fellow Griffins.

Sign up with the form below and to the right and check back here often.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Welcome to Week 4

The meditation during Week 4 of the challenge, is what is known as lovingkindness meditation.

Salzberg writes that lovingkindness meditation is "the practice of paying attention to ourselves and others with a sense of interest and care."

During the practice, we focus caring attention first on ourselves and then on someone we know well, someone who is neutral like the barista at your favorite coffee shop, for example. Then, we offer lovingkindness to someone who is challenging for you and then to all beings everywhere.

You may not react well to this idea - some people have difficulty holding themselves in caring awareness.  Others my struggle with opening their hearts to someone they are struggling with. Still others may find the idea of offering lovingkindness to all beings to be too abstract.

Many however find that after practicing lovingkindness, they begin to feel more connected to other people and better able turn toward difficult relationships whether with themselves or others.

Offering lovingkindness does not mean you have to like everyone or approve of all behaviors. But it acknowledges that all of us are inextricably connected. It challenges the idea of me and you, or us and them, offering a way to see the world in terms of "we" and "us," Salzberg says.

It also opens the way for us to care for ourselves unconditionally, not just when we are perfect in one way or another.

"When we practice it, we acknowledge that every one of us shares the same wish to be happy, and the same vulnerability to change and suffering," Salzberg writes.

The first moment I recognized that lovingkindness meditation was having an effect on me was entering the subway station one morning.  I noticed that I was not irritated (as I normally would be) by the woman wheeling a suitcase who stopped short it the doorway. Instead, I found myself thinking about how difficult it must be for her to struggle with her unweildly load.

The practice of lovingkindness meditation:
To practice lovingkindness meditation, you silently repeat a series of phrases while holding the thought or image of someone in your mind, starting with yourself.
The customary phrases are variations of:
May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I be free from suffering
May I live with ease. 

Begin with yourself, then pick someone you know well, then someone neutral, then someone difficult, then all beings.

There is also a guided lovingkindness meditation in the Real Happiness audio link at the right.

May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be free from suffering. May you live at ease.

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