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Meditation for Everyday Life

Lesson 22 of 28

Compassion for Ourselves & Others Part 2

David Nichtern

Meditation for Everyday Life

David Nichtern

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Lesson Info

22. Compassion for Ourselves & Others Part 2

Lesson Info

Compassion for Ourselves & Others Part 2

So far we've seen you know that if we do love somebody we're wishing them maybe clarity and strength the right kind of companionship for them health well being so over the years of doing this particular practice there are four main sort of wishes that got codified however you can modify these to suit this would be like, you know, the sort of general generic ones that are used and so to start with you can you can work with thes um and the first one is safe maybe safe and these air express is direct wishes and the first case to the person that we love may be safe so you know when somebody you love is in health jeopardy or for, uh, taking a trip or something like that was simply wishing that they'd be safe um the second quality is healthy that's a kind of uh uh very ancient wish for mothers to her children, you know, and grandmothers especially are very good at this particular wish um so maybe healthy and that's sort of the physical level the third one is may you be happy, which is intere...

sting that we think happy is this big cosmic event of some kind but actually just like the little things that you said like your dad finding a partner or somebody else might say, you know, um my mom might be happier if I called her once a week you know, it's sort of kind of almost like a joke, but that would actually make her happy, so we're not looking at this sort of big scale ultimate happiness, but you can you can say, you know, you said, come on, mom, being present with whatever is happening with her that's sort of bigger man, but maybe just happy with some relic the situation could be a simple is getting somebody a cup of coffee. We stay very regional with this, you know, this is how our life is made up of small moments and happiness is comes from small moments, so it's it's very grounded approach may be happy, and the fourth one is of the classic wishes. May you be at ease, and I think in context of what we've been talking about, I would characterize that is free from stress and anxiety. That's what he's really is you're not tortured by stress and anxiety and that's that's, a wish we could have for yourself and for others. So those wishes in this practice or very simply kind of focused on and we focus on several different recipients of this wish and the first one because it's sort of the easiest one prison tight is thinking of a loved one. Or a mentor that's the first category of person that we're going to send the wish to because as you saw I mean I could feel it in the room I'm sure you can feel it at home there's a little bit of a kind of quivering what do you call a rabbit heart funny hard little bunny hard and even the biggest even you know the terminator starts to quiver a little bit you know when when you talk about this kind of loving kindness you know there's a feeling of ah inside even the most intense um uh lee guarded individuals as a bunny heart softer heart so this is bringing that out and you know, it's sort of cuts through a kind of um hard edge hard exterior um and it's meant to do that so um the second person that we work with is interesting enough ourselves and this was for me a revelation in this practice because I didn't I thought compassion was for other people basically you know, like it was some kind of heroic er thing that you mustered up so that you could be a great compassionate person but the idea of being compassionate for ourselves has built into this practice and sometimes that's hard for people it can be sometimes the trickiest area for a lot of people so you wish those things for yourself like actually may I be safe? May I be healthy may I be happy? May I be a tease? The number one number one safe no oh, the categories first is a loved one I loved one because that's easiest we start with the easiest and we kind of move towards the most challenging okay, usually you can think of somebody who who will bring those feelings together there's somebody online saying something dd fifty says interesting that david should say that about tissues I immediately thought of my husband and I wish for him is that he have peace of mind and full health I'm totally tearing up here so it's already happening? Yeah, okay, we're not trying to get you to cry but we're not trying we're not trying as hard as we usually do to stop you. Okay, so, um you know, this practice is I say is a is a hard practice heart not hard it's not that hard actually. Um so then, uh we move into the third group off category, which is people we're not really sure about. So, uh what we call the indifferent, uh category um this is based on a sort of simple theory about how we respond to others and it's pretty basic when when we have a sense of somebody else it's pretty comes up fairly quickly, I like them, I don't like them or I don't care that's called passion, aggression and ignorance in the traditional teachings it's amazing how fast it comes up and if you know oh you're in a yoga studio use that example a lot of where somebody puts their mat in the yoga studio and if you like somebody you is kind of nice that he's kind of nice, you know? You want them to put them in there, matt, right next to you that's called passion or, you know, attraction and those of the category people we like, so if you like somebody a lot, you kind of want them to put their mat on top of your map. S o that's the ultimate kind of like they were talking about but you oh, yeah, come on, we're friends and we could take the class together and be so nice to have you there and, you know, then we'll go have a cup of coffee later, so that's the light category, the kind of avoidance or uh sometimes called him aggression category but it's really a sense of rejection, you know, you go, you know, they come in and you're like, you kind of mentally try to engineer that there in the corner, assed far away from you as possible and it's very fast how these kind of feelings come up, they're like almost, uh knee jerks that happened very quickly based on a lot of causes and conditions were not really aware of and so then that person is in that category the third category is the neutral uh we're in different category we literally don't notice these people and you might want to track you know this could be a little assignment for everybody as you go walking through your world today or as we take a lunch break just look and see how these reactions just coming kind of come up for you, you know, and even where you want to sit next to this person just you know you don't want them there or wow are you in this course? I mean, this happens when we have thirty or forty people in workshop you you show up in person so that was not a great workshop and you didn't even know they were in there so that's the neutral category we don't take any particular notice of course, if we look at the kind of sentence beings that are on this earth at this time, how many beings are that were indifferent to billions because we're not only just talking about human beings here we're talking about any kind of being you know, so we might even have a little doggy that we love right and not all indifferent to uh but there might be, you know, uh fifty bees on our property and we might have a little aversion to the more we might be in different depending but I just read the lead article in the time magazine that said if we lose those bees, human beings have four years left to live on planet earth and it's happening it's on the front page of time magazine I'm not this is not esoteric stuff we're something is happening where we are uh due to the use of toxins and, uh, pesticides the bee populations diminishing and it's not just a little thing it'll end life on earth because they pollinate the rest of the food chain so we might even think of the bees ago, you know, talk about being here now way we want them to be here now so it's not just for human beings are lifecycle on earth this involves a lot of other kinds of beans and this includes all of them. So um but we may not know about the different beings I like to think about people in foreign countries I don't really know them, I don't know what they're into, you know, so wishing them have to be safe happy, healthy happy entities is part of the program and then we go to the difficult the most challenging category, which which is what do you think that would be in terms of wishing happiness because we go I don't really want you to be happy healthy and safeties told me and that's called aggression and that's a very interesting thing to work with I found doing this practice it's very interesting to work with our own aggressive thoughts about other people and see what they're based in uh so that's the, uh final category and then at the end of this practice we're gonna sort of send out the wish for everybody you kind of make it you know, you kind of like radiate out that wish for all all sentient beings as much as you can um so as I mentioned this practice is just a way of reconditioning our state of mind it's called a relative practice we know we have attitudes, we have things going on our minds and we're just working to optimize that that kind of conditioning um and make it as positive as possible um there's a couple of things that we recognize in doing that that are helpful in terms of the view ofthe understanding why this is a good practice, why it works, how it works and one is understanding impermanence properly impermanence is a very, very powerful current throughout the buddhist teachings and really any kind of perception of reality that that doesn't take it into account it's kind of um might want to reconsider because none of those feelings that we have are actually permanent even though they feel like they're when we hate somebody we could like you know we'd like to get them out but I've seen many times you know, somebody start by hating somebody and it ends up then they're in love with them I I've heard this from couples a lot they met the person that kind of irritated family first I don't know if any of you have had that experience um and then and then somehow that shifted or sometimes we start with a kind of neutral attitude towards somebody and then we hate them and or a neutral attitude and now we love them or sometimes we love somebody a lot and now we feel kind of neutral towards somewhere we kind of hate them that's called d I v o r c e yeah that's the acronym for that one you know? So I use that as an example of understanding impermanence of these seemingly, you know, kind of very powerful energies of passion, aggression, ignorance we start without creative alive and we see somebody in the marketing department there and we kind of owe when they work here this kind of interesting I never really noticed them before and then all of a sudden we were in the cab material we said I think I'll just sit down next this person have a little meal together and you start to spark up and then it's like you have tremendous interest beginning to grow every relationship is like this actually and then you notice fast forward on it you you now you're getting very close with that person and now you're kind of deciding the only way I can really fill this feeling isn't tight is to move into a house together people do either with the full on blessings of the state and the government or just on their own iii getting married or just living together and now this person is like you've sort of gotten us close them as you possibly can and now it's starting to feel it's now five years later and let's just fast forward on this you know, they're kind of a little bit annoying this person you know start to irritate you maybe maybe they've taken up too much uh energy for you too much space uh and you started resent them has that ever happened to any of you in terms of relationships where he start to resent the person that you formerly loved at informally before that were indifferent to them and then you feel like the aggression rising and rising and rising getting strong strong show now you really need to get rid of them they need to get rid of you and now you become divorced we're separated and now it's ten years later and you're walking down the street and you see them on you oh hi how are you I really have no idea what's been going on with him. So even in our own lifetime you can see the impermanence of these things that we sort of get so serious serious about were so serious about our little melodramas, you know? But if we take the overall view, we see that these things just simply change and shift. So recognizing impermanence means we're not stuck with any of these feelings that's why you can practice compassion for the enemy for the difficult person because they're not always gonna be that. So, um another quality we recognize is that our mind has this interesting quality to it, which I called the sponge like quality of of the mind and heart we absorb impressions uh, what we cultivate is gonna ripple through the rest of our lives. So for example, of simple example of child who's abused you know, um if you really look into that there's a very high incidence of that person becoming abusive himself so they've absorbed a certain kind of energy certain negative, strong energy from the way they were raised and now, like spun their sponge like being is soaked in aggression. And when somebody goes to squeeze that sponge, what comes out is what's been so open, so if we soak our sponge into loving kindness when you squeeze that person loving kindness comes out it's just simple conditioning it sze sort of very organic simple so we can choose you know what we want to sell cross punch in and by doing this kind of mindfulness practice we're soaking our sponge in awareness and mindfulness and, uh by doing this loving kindness meditation were soaking are the sponge of remind into this kind of positive attitude so recognizing that texture in the mind uh is something we can actually cultivate so therefore I would like to say that this is an extremely practical um, approach towards living and, um I'm going to read a little bit from that article that just synchronously today was published and seth freeman who works for me ah sent it along so we could include it um that this kind of practice can give us a kind of renewed inspiration and vitality in our life make us a better friend a better manager, better employees, better artists and better lover loving kindness. Okay, it's not just pie in the sky I kind of think it's our everyday life so today this hand out which you all got what you could read it your own pace is, you know, magically and synchronously appeared in the in the huffington post today um by angela wilson uh and this is from ah the arena in which a lot of scientific study and neuroscience is being done about the power of meditation practices um because people interested in seeing if it's sort of verifiable um so I'm just going to read a few paragraphs from it and it's also if you go to our chat room is the link available now ok, so for those of you who are watching us online there um if you want oh um uh bookmark this link and then you can look at this in more detail um but I'll read a few paragraphs from it just to sort of bring in these this point of view ah one increasingly popular form of meditation is loving kindness meditation she's calling lk m it's also popularly known by the way has met or my tree might see those words the practice of wishing oneself and others to be happy content in the ladies in the yoga tradition loving kindness is seen as an opportunity to cultivate the opposite where many a meditation techniques encourage students to explore difficult feelings or emotions directly in loving kindness the invitations to send well which is to oneself who is in distress as well as the other who we feel distressed towards this isn't meant to suppress the feelings as they arise but instead it can be thought of as a soothing balm something gently placed on a wound for healing over the past several years as meditation research has become more prevalent, science has become interested in the effects of loving kindness practice on the mind and the body under the guidance of such well known contemplative, says the dalai lama, researchers believe that lk m loving kindness meditation would offer similar benefits to other forms of meditation such as breath meditation, open awareness, meditation which is what we learned yesterday and the day before as it turns out, loving kindness, meditation offers unique benefits that air subtly different from other consummate station. Some of these benefits might surprise you, so I want to also say that if you enroll in our course there's a handout that you khun er article that I wrote for huffington post on the same topic that you can download so all you have to do is enroll for the course that you want to say something about that two examples here these come free with enrollment. All you need to do is click you sign up, you get information about creative life courses about this course. This is just one example cultivating compassion for yourself and others and there are two free down down those for enrollment and that will also walk you through that will step you through the the practice that we're gonna learn so you have a backup for for that the article today's having imports goes on to say that basically is showing loving kindness creates feelings of social connection given this research is no surprise that el cam has shown to increase social connectedness even for strangers and there's several studies quoted study conducted by a group of researchers from stanford university found that in just seven minutes of loving kindness meditation subjects reported greater social connection toward others other studies have shown that the feeling of social connection can predict changes in persons am I saying this right vagal tone the a g a l help I'm saying that word right ankle that's right? Yes a physiological measurement of resilience and overall well being so um I think I would just like to end from this and you could certainly access this online or reading on your own time the dalai lama has been quoted as saying this is my simple religion referring to loving kindness there is no need for temples no need for complicated philosophy our own brain our own heart is our temple the philosophy is kindness and indeed it seems that in fact with a little practice loving kindness meditation has the potential not only to improve our connection with ourselves but to foster deeper connection and care for others as well. So that's just a little bit of the background of this practice on dh as usual once we understand the idea um we take a shot at it you know? So I'm going to lead us through this meditation practice this morning um and once you understand it obviously you can do it yourself and pace yourself through it you have a question uh okay I just I don't know the difference between people that that you don't like and people that have actually done harm to other people that you love well as we step through this you're gonna pick a representative from each group so I'll explain as try the practice through and then we can clarify some of these things as we go but it's gonna be simple you just pick somebody that you feel for whatever reason that you don't like him for whatever reason I don't like you can hate him hate doesn't form of not like hey I mean it depends a cz we step through it I'll give a little guideline for each of those so the first thing that we do in the in the loving kindness practice is we start by taking our meditation seat as we have in the past and we start if you remember I talked about the mindfulness awareness practice being like a sorbet just take a few breaths and sort of center yourself and uh allow yourself to feel present in the space of this time maybe we could just say take three mindful breaths and usually we ring the bell wants to start the practice and as you listen to the sound of the bell you can just come into a state of present awareness way start buy clothes you can close your eyes because this practice we're going to use our imagination you can just relax your mind and body for a moment, and we start by bringing to mind just imagine that there's sort of sitting right in front of you somebody who you love are a mentor teacher, if you like, but somebody for whom you have kind of open feelings towards an positive feelings towards and they've been very kind to in the past and if they're alive or not, it doesn't really matter. It could be someone you don't even know personally, but you just feel that kind of quality coming from and it doesn't have to be a human being could be a pet, but the feeling is a hard its opening easily kind of softness and also then if you like it and just put your hand gently on your heart area and kind of like I feel that this is where I'm gonna be practicing for the next twenty minutes this area here, so from the heart we look at that person and the first thing we say it's, may you be safe. This is again the notion of wishing them to be free from harm's, way out of harm's way free from danger and the two ways you can practice is either saying, repeating, may you be safe for a period of time, you could just almost use it like a mantra like this repeat that over and over or contemplate as we've learned to do direct your mind and energy towards that wish for that person and even you could think about well what could you do to help contribute towards their safety any even very practical small things so I'm going to say it once and then if you can repeat it may you be safe everybody repeat out loud maybe safe and then now either practises repeating that phrase with that person in mind or actually think it through contemplate their safety on whatever comes up is okay so we're gonna leave in a lot of room for what comes up and if your mind drifts away from the exercise than just bring it back that's your discipline here so stay focused on this topic as much as you can and whatever arises you khun take note it's not you don't need toe always be manipulating what comes up for you may you be safe be safe and just try to feel the feelings that come up about that may you be healthy baby healthy and again with that person in mind you can keep bringing your mind back to the person that you love who's been kind to you you're wishing good health for them and all the things associated with that all kinds of feelings come up don't suppress any of them again you can either be repeating you be healthy or you can be thinking about it contemplating it third slogan may you be happy so again this is relating to the present state of mind how how are they feeling about their life what would make them happier what obstacles are there? Is there anything you could do to help? Yeah and if you get too happy about the whole thing drop your energy back into your down into heart and then finding the fourth slogan may you be at ease is again sort of wishing that they're free from too much tension stress anxiety, expectation, disappointment and have ease and contentment now you can just let that person go away like the image of them dissolves into open space and you can you come back to just simple feeling of being present no where you take a couple of mindful breaths and then we conjure up the next category of person which is ourself me I all those things that you referred to yourself as your name and with oneself in mind may I be safe and again contemplating or repeating the phrase think about your own safety may be healthy no may I be healthy? Yeah think about that what challenges too have in that area how could you overcome those get a point of radiant health physical well being wishing that for yourself maybe happy e again see what comes up for you and don't try to judge a qualify any of it just include whatever arises but gently direct your mind back to the contemplation practice we're doing if it wanders off into other other thoughts just bring it back. May I be at ease? Just imagine what you would feel like without being loaded down with stress and inside him right now I'm burning my to do list in my mind, I'm watching this flame and the smoke up into the air to a blue sky is your imagination, whatever form it takes and then having stepped through those four wishes for oneself, can we let that attention and focus dissolve come back to being present? For a moment, you can return to the mindfulness of the breathing or just sit quietly for a moment. Now we move to the neutral parson category, the category of indifference, so this can be a little tricky just have the think of somebody you don't really know that well, maybe it's somebody who works here at creative live that you've seen in the background, but you don't have a strong feeling about this person don't know much about them, but try to conjure them and bring them into your mind could be somebody from the supermarche, from school or from work playground just let them pick one and that come into your mind and try to focus on them, and with that person in mind, may you be safe again, repeating the phrase may be safe over and over again in your mind if you like just gently let it ripple through or you khun contemplate think about the meaning of that you're wishing that president's free from harm free from danger and safe then secondly may you be healthy may be happy maybe abby again this is the neutral person the person you don't know that well still you're generating a strong wish for them to be happy could be somebody asana news program living in china or india england new york may be at ease maybe he is now we're letting that person go just is all back into the open space mind is freed up for a moment just rest in the feeling that happening and uh last category we go to us what we call the sometimes called the enemy but I'd like to go the irritating person annoying person the tea boy that we talked about yesterday you could just pick somebody doesn't have to be the you know the super villain of all time maybe just someone in your life right now is it annoying you on uh arousing your aggression somebody here it doesn't it could even be somebody that you basically love but they're just uh in the penalty box for the moment feeling is what matters and watch what comes up for you here just take note of it and do your best may be safe don't judge yourself for the person just try to work with the feelings if you can send this wish to them maybe healthy may be happy hee maybe aries either repeating the phrase or contemplating it just see what comes up for you and included everything be open to it and then let that person go let's let it go solve can you're back in the open space and now going back into your heart center feeling that space again going back to the person you loved in the beginning and remembering that feeling of complete openness open heartedness think of it as a golden son of energy in your heart it begins to radiate out and it's a feeling of january wishing happiness for others and for oneself starting with oneself then radiating out and just touches the people around you in the workshop here or in your house wherever you are in virtual land just let that feeling radiate out through your house or apartment and then further and further out just extended out towards all beings everywhere like us if your heart is sun radiate out energy, love and kindness to all beings everywhere to see how far you can project that out and then gradually as you like just speaking to come back in and have a sensor coming back to your body and this place drawing it in coming in and letting the whole exercise dissolve practice dissolves into you and just rest in the feeling of being here with those feelings that you've gone through no, welcome back everybody um there is a sense of a little bit of a journey taking place there through your heart and mind that's that's part of it um and I think uh maybe that's a good place to pause for a moment because one of the main qualities of loving kind of stress oneself is a allowing time for appropriate bio breaks wait couldn't be kind so we're sort of do for one of those um I thought maybe we could just chat for a moment especially if anything's coming in from the online audience and then I'll explain what we're going to do in the next segment it's been absolutely fascinating I'm almost reluctant to even speak of this point teo shatter all spoil the mood in the studio it's that was such a wonderful experience I hope for our online community you are able to share that and really appreciate what was happening here david leading that meditation it really was powerful I think that what's happening because there was such a lively discussion going on and then I noticed that the discussion shrank and we were all really concentrating in in in the moment but if this time we would normally ask questions and I really appreciate you have some questions in but I think it could be much more appropriate to hold those and to go out with some more force perhaps from our audience from our students students how they experience that because certainly for me really on the sides here with john marie we were very much involved did uh, meditation is wonderful well, let's take one or two from our live audience and then I think what we'll do is we'll just resume as we go into the next segment the second segment will be a continent continuation of this segment's worth it's worth keeping going with this for a while. So a few comments so I I have a practice in the morning of doing a gratitude meditation where I image imagine the people I love and just sudden gratitude to them um so this was an expansion of that which was really calming and really felt connective too may like I felt like they could feel it and I practice ricky and one of the one of the indicators of the activity of that energy moving through me is when I close my eyes I can see orbs of color that come like move through my head and that just started happening in this meditation like on its own just, uh, seeing mostly violet orbs moving through what do you think that means? Um transmitting the rake e transmitting the intention beyond uh thought but energetically hysterically so experiencing some energetic dimension of this practice violet or you other day, needed him vile. And so are you getting anything, I think beautiful way to end this day, right? Songs, you sing the beautiful teo david. What were we talking about it when we come back from a bio break? Well, the idea of segment to us too deep in the practice, and so we'll be looking. This practice a little bit more in depth and kind of continuing on with that, uh, and also giving everybody a chance to kind of talk about, uh, the range of experiences that come up during it, which I think is worth the time. And we'll do some more practice of the both of the loving kindness and of the mindfulness meditation and talk about those.

Class Description

In today’s hectic world, our busy lives often crowd out any chance to sit still. Who has time to focus on mindfulness when there are 40 emails to write? Join Buddhist teacher David Nichtern for an introduction to meditation. David will show you how meditating for just 15-30 minutes a day will clarify your mind and decrease your stress levels.

David will teach you the basics of meditation, unpacking the centuries-old spiritual tradition into a practical playbook for living a balanced life. You will learn simple posture, breathing, and directed contemplation techniques that will help you unclutter your mind and increase your energy.

Stillness is a powerful way to be kind to yourself. At the end of this workshop, you will be more present, aware, and connected to the world around you.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Cultivating Mindfulness E-Book

Cultivating Compasion For Yourself and Others

Simple Meditation Instructions for Ordinary People

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Sean Newton

I've tried to develop a meditation practice in the past and signed up for this course because of the title ..'everyday life' This course works!! I'd like to thank David and the Creative Live crew for providing a life enhancing course. At first I was a little impatient as I thought the sessions were long, drawn out and repetitive however, half way through it 'clicks' (it made sense) and what may seem as a long-winded preamble is in fact laying a firm foundation for understanding and progression. Hastily wanting to skip to some perceived 'good bit that helps hedge fund mangers etc ' is like sprinting to the end of the rainbow instead of appreciating the various colours. (Your own perceptual colours even ;-)) Anyway, a worthwhile course - so stay the course and feel better for fit

a Creativelive Student

David is an amazing teacher, he has a gift for relating the principles of mindfulness in an accessible, relatable way. Plus, he's really funny. I'm super psyched to participate in this workshop. Thanks CreativeLIVE!


Also found this through the DTFH podcast. What a wonderful, powerful, and approachable course in meditation. Highly recommended to anyone interested in starting on this path. It's chock full of practical information and ways to apply meditation to your life.