New Years Greetings from Colorado
I hope this finds you entering into a new year filled with confidence
and expectations of new and creative things to come.
Sounds a bit trite, doesn't it? I know it's hard for some to envision a happier new year, especially if dealing with loss, disappointment, health issues, relationship issues or sometimes just life in general.
But despite that life is at times difficult, we know it can also be incredibly rich and wonderful. There are two things I've recently been introduced to that may help with embracing both the difficult and the wonderful parts of life. They are "maitri" and "tonglen meditation." Both concepts come from the Buddhist faith and I've learned them from a video called Good Medicine featuring Pema Chödrön, a spiritual teacher extraordinaire and a Buddhist nun.
The first concept is "maitri" which translates to unconditional acceptance, compassion and friendship with oneself. The idea is to create a deeply intimate relationship with our own experiences, whether that is pain or joy. Maitri would ask us to begin to allow the fullest range of emotions associated with our experiences into our consciousness.
For example, Chödrön sees the human condition as similar to the many weather patterns that may exist all within one day. In our minds, our experiences can create moods similar to turbulent oceans, tornadoes, windy skies, or rain. To the contrary, our minds can also create moods which soothe us like spring time flowers, sunny summer days, or placid lakes into which we can see deeply.
Using tonglen meditation (pronounced tong-len) we can begin the practice of maitri. Although there are several levels to tonglen meditation, I've created and adapted the following meditation to help you begin this extraordinary relationship with all your experiences, and to learn to value both the joyous as well as challenging experiences which life presents to you. I'm calling this meditation the "The Buddhist Maitri Meditation" and you can find it by clicking here.
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