Sunday, May 8, 2011

Meditation - Mother's Day Edition

"I love my mother as the trees love water and sunshine - she helps me grow, prosper, and reach great heights." (Terri Guillemets)

On this special day when we celebrate the blessing of motherhood, we should take time to reflect on a mother's nurturing kindness and expand that positive energy in our lives. Following this idea, the book How to Expand Love (translated by Jeff Hopkins, full of wisdom and knowledge from the Dalai Lama) describes a good meditation technique which may help us to accomplish this goal.

For those that do not have any background on Buddhist theory, this particular meditation is founded on their belief of Saṃsāra (the continuous cycle of birth, life, death, and reincarnation). One thing that I've always liked about Buddhism is that its visualization practices can be useful to everyone on a spiritual path, regardless of religious affiliation.  The following is a useful technique that can help us cultivate more love and patience in our lives (and who doesn't want/need that?)

"...reflect on the kindness that others individually afforded to you when, over the course of lifetimes, they were your parents and you were a child. Applying this reflection to each encounter, you will see that all beings have equally shown kindness to you either in this lifetime or in others.
- Visualize your mother, or prime nurturer, vividly in front of you
- Think: 'This person was my mother many times over the continuum of lives. Even in just this lifetime, she has bestowed on my a body that supports an auspicious life through which I am able to progress spiritually. She sustained me in her womb for nine months, during which she could not behave as she wished but had to pay special attention to this burden that she carried in her body, making it heavy and difficult to move about. Even though my movements would cause her pain, she would take delight in them, thinking how strong her child was, rather than becoming angry and concentrating on her pain. Her sense of closeness and dearness was great.'
Stay a while with this thought, feeling its impact.
- Deepen your appreciation by considering details: 'While giving birth, she suffered greatly, and afterward she was constantly concerned with my welfare, wondering how I was doing, valuing the child born from her own body higher than anything else. Later, she sustained me in the very best way she could...'
- Realize how dependent you were. Appreciate the kindness you received. 
- Having understood the kindness of your prime nurturer in this lifetime, extend this felt understanding gradually to other friends. (following the steps previously described)
Then consider a neutral being, someone who has neither helped nor harmed you in this lifetime. Let your positive attitude embrace them.
- Having become accustomed to considering friends and neutral persons this way, you are ready to reflect on persons who have intentionally or unintentionally harmed you and your friends in this lifetime. Imagine an enemy clearly in front of you; feel the presence of this person and go over the visualization one more time. (starting from the very beginning: 'This person was my mother may times over the continuum of lives...')
Finish the exercise by affirming: 'Therefore, although this person has appeared to me in this lifetime as an enemy seeking harm to my body and spirit, in former lifetimes she/he was my best friend, my mother, my nurturer, sacrificing her own body and spirit for me'."

(paraphrased from How to Expand Love; page 51-60)

Love, Peace, and Blessings to all

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