…to settle into the body. Allowing yourself to relax. Rest. Open. Using a soft, steady mindful awareness to come in to the body, to the moment here, now. Building on this foundation of mindful awareness, we’ve been offering a series of practice for cultivating the heart. Just beginning by simply letting your attention into and infuse the heart center, the center of the chest. Perhaps imagine you could breathe in and out of the heart. And just opening, receiving whatever is here now.
Tuning in, listening in to the emotional tone or flavor of your experience. Whether there’s sadness or frustration, anxiety or tenderness, no need to change anything. Just allowing, receiving. This fundamental practice of being with what’s here, without judgment, without tinkering or manipulation, without assuming it should be any other way. This is a fundamental kindness. Now, on the past days, we’ve also offered the practice of meta, of loving kindness, ___, compassion in this practice of forgiveness as ways that we can intentionally incline the mind and heart turning toward, sowing seeds, building the capacities for gentleness, tenderness, for the capacity that turn toward our difficult experience, allowing the heart to quiver.
So it can be helpful to use this kind of intentional inclining of the mind and heart, infusing mindfulness with warmth and tenderness, building the capacity to receive our difficult experiences with the soft, open heart. And as we’ve introduced in the past days, becoming aware of the ways in which we have experienced harm, whether we’ve done to ourselves, harm we’ve caused others, or harm we’ve received from other people or situation.
Just to repeat some of the really important pieces about this training of turning toward forgiveness, both Manilyn and Larry have spoken about. It’s a process. It happens over time, and you can’t force it. It unfolds with its own wisdom, its own timing, its own grace. You can toil the soil, you can plant the seeds, and then there are the practices of patience, and of humility. Humility is the image of the Buddha reaching down and touching the humus of the earth.
It’s willingness to stay steady and true, allowing the process to unfold as it will thrusting. Then, it will grow in its own time. So we’ve heard from many of you in the interviews that as we’ve traversed this territory of the heart, think of it as our chemical process of transforming lead to gold in our own hearts, minds, bodies. Or some of you, it’s brought strong and powerful waves of emotion. For others, there’s been a soft, steady, softening and tenderness. Or other have reported feeling resistance, numbing, a lack of feeling. And for many of you, it’s been a combination of all of these different aspects, so in the same way knowing there’s not a right or wrong. There’s not a better or a worse.
Remembering that the fundamental practice is to be with what is, to be with what is. So, I just want to offer a few basic guidelines for how to work skillfully in this territory of the heart. And the first is simple and a little bit counter habitual, which I’ll say a few times. Less is more. In the tender territory of the heart, taking small steps, being patience with ourselves, not pushing, not rushing, not going to the hardest places first. It’s like the story of the tortoise and the hare. You’ll actually be more… you’ll have more insight and more discovery.
Keep it slow, steady, soft. And if you find that you run into pockets or places of resistance, where you feel yourself checking out, or numbing out, or not feeling, where you know there’s some emotion in there, but you just can’t touch it, and seeing if you can be kind, compassionate and forgiving for that. If you find that you’re overwhelmed by strong or powerful emotion in such a way that you aren’t able to stay present. Let it go. And find some ways to bring away to stabilize, and to bring a joyfulness, a lightness into the heart and mind, calling on images or memories, that supportive people, places, reflecting on your own goodness, or just letting yourself rest.
So in the spirit of the array of practices that ___ offered, the understanding that less is more, that faster is not better, knowing that if you’re overwhelmed, you can take a break. You can call in your inner and outer resources, and remembering the fundamental ground of being present with what is as it is. Ruling in the body. Resting in the breath. So, at this point, we want to offer you the invitation to trust your own, wise heart. To learn to find which of the practices feel appropriate to you now, and learning to skillfully move in and out, in a way that allows the body to settle, the mind to open, the heart to soften.
Please, trust yourself. Remembering your fundamental goodness, and doing the best that you can.
So, please allow your attention to return back to the heart center. And as we did at the beginning, just opening to receive. Noticing, listening in, hearing how the heart is expressing itself now. And just as we can incline the mind and heart toward loving kindness, toward compassion, toward forgiveness, we can also incline the mind and heart toward happiness, enjoyment, even joy. There’s a beautiful quote from Bro. David ___, he’s a Benedictin monk. He’s kind of an expert on greatfulness, where he says, “If you think, if you think that happiness makes you greatful, think again. If you think happiness makes you grateful, think again. It is greatfulness that makes you happy.” And in that spirit, taking a moment or two to reflect on and appreciate something about yourself. Appreciating perhaps your willingness to sit and be present, the courage, the constancy, that is taken for you to be here with yourself all day. Day by day. The mind will tend to move toward ___, but you don’t have to be perfect.
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]
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