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A Glimpse

To benefit from meditation, you need more than just a glimpse. If you stick with the practice, you will have a chance to realize yourself, to understand yourself.

— Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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Be Grateful To Everyone

Be Grateful to Everyone

Gratitude arises naturally and spontaneously in my life—when my newborn son coos with delight, when my husband graciously cares for everyone in our growing family, and when I sit in a circle of meditating friends cultivating compassion for the world. Yet like everyone, I am aware of moments when gratitude does not arise easily.

In Buddhism, there is a teaching: “Be Grateful to Everyone.” This is an invitation to open ourselves to every person and every circumstance we encounter in our lives with the understanding that everything that we experience is in support of our awakening. Pema Chodron reminds us that we can learn from any and every situation, and it is often the difficult ones that teach us the most. I love the idea of being grateful to everyone, but I often find it quite difficult to do so.

I recently listened to an interview with the Austrian Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast titled “The Anatomy of Gratitude.” In the interview, he says: “We can’t be grateful for everything, but we can be grateful in every moment.”

He encourages us to look for the opportunities that are available in every moment, especially during difficult times. It is these opportunities that we can be grateful for, even if we cannot feel gratitude for the actual circumstances.

The practice of gratitude is about stepping into a larger more open-hearted space and making room for the fullness of our experience. What do we do when our experience is painful or difficult? How do we meet ourselves and others when there is pain or darkness present? Gratitude is a way of turning towards our experience with openness and appreciation – for all of it – not just the parts that feel good.

David Steindl-Rast says:

Have the courage to let yourself down into the depth that gratitude opens up. When you are confronted with something for which you cannot be grateful, let go of all thought and sit quietly. When you get sufficiently quiet, without having to figure something out, some answer emerges. It may not happen in one sitting, it may take days or even weeks. When you let go of resistance, there is just acceptance. This quiet holding leads to a new birth.”

 

This is our practice. Day after day, we come into stillness and turn our attention inward so that we can open outward and extend ourselves to the world from a place of clarity, compassion, and gratefulness.

I encourage you to start your days with a little bit of formal meditation and contemplation on gratitude, and notice the moments that are made available to you throughout your everyday life. How does life feel different when gratitude is at the forefront of your awareness?

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Obstacles

We can be grateful for obstacles because they push us forward in our practice.

— Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

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Gentleness

Without gentleness, meditation will become just another way in which we’re trying to measure up to a hopeless ideal.

— Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

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Consistent

The best support of regular and consistent meditation practice is that we enjoying doing it.

— Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

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Open Heart

Through the practice of sitting still and following your breath, you are connecting with your open heart. By simply letting yourself be as you are, you begin to develop loving kindness and gentleness for yourself.

— Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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Immediacy

The breath represents being alive in the immediacy of the present moment.

— Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

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Precision, Gentleness, And Letting Go

Precision, Gentleness, and Letting Go

There are three very useful qualities that we can cultivate in our meditation practice, and in life: Precision, gentleness, and letting go.

Precision involves taking a good posture and bringing attention repeatedly back to the present moment. When our minds wander, we simply notice the thoughts or emotions that are there, and bring attention back to the experience of the breath, which is what brings us back to the present moment.

Gentleness involves a sense of settling and relaxing with our experience, acknowledging the movement of mind and process of thinking that can so easily take us out of the present moment. We can practice gentleness by not judging our experience.

Letting go means embracing what is, and releasing the need for things to be any different than they are right now. We are letting go of expectation, judgment, and commentary, and allowing our experience to experience what is arising in any and every moment.

“Meditation is about seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, and the people who are in our lives. It’s about seeing how we react to all these things. It’s seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. It’s not about trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness.”

~Pema Chodron

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Meeting Ourselves With Kindness

Meeting Ourselves with Kindness

The practice of meditation is simple, straightforward, and ordinary. What is more ordinary than sitting down and being yourself? That is the essence of meditation practice. It is simply sitting down, being still, and being aware of your experience. And yet, as we practice, we find that it is not always an easy thing to do!

When we sit down to meditate, we are not stepping out of our lives, but stepping fully into our lives and learning to make friends with ourselves and our experience, as it is. Meditation practice is about relating directly with our present moment experience and learning to peacefully abide with whatever is arising. We do this through mindfulness and awareness, united with gentleness and kindness.

In meditation, we are learning to cultivate and sustain attention in the present moment by placing it purposefully on the experience of the breath in the body. This helps our minds to settle and to become more stable and clear. The ability to pay attention in this way awakens us to our inherent kindness. Meditation connects us with an ever-present and all-accommodating sense of space –there is room for everything. Feeling this space, we can be kind to ourselves.

As we meditate, we become aware of how seductive our thoughts are and how quickly we are drawn out of the present moment, into the past or future, or some other time or place other than now. The practice is to return again and again to the present moment, which allows us to meet ourselves and our experience with kindness.

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Bravery

This is bravery: Using the challenge of daily life to sharpen our mind and open our heart.

— Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

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