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We are all joined together in this world

We are all joined together in this world
July 22
12:09 2019

Sharon Salzberg

It’s easy to feel separate from other people and forms of life. When experiencing the world dualistically, there’s a pervasive sense of “us” and “them,” or “self” and “other.” But no matter our belief system, actions, or status, we are all joined together in this world through strands of relationship and interconnection.

By practicing loving-kindness meditation, you can learn to see the lives of others as related to your own. This doesn’t mean you must like everybody, or agree with everything they do. It means you can open up to the possibility of caring for others not just because you like them, admire them, or are indebted to them, but because your lives are inextricably linked.

Loving-Kindness Practice

This involves silently repeating phrases that offer good qualities to oneself and to others.

You can start by taking delight in your own goodness calling to mind things you have done out of good heartedness and rejoicing in those memories to celebrate the potential for goodness we all share.

Silently recite phrases that reflect what we wish most deeply for ourselves in an enduring way. Traditional phrases are, “May I live in safety. May I have mental happiness or peace or joy. May I have physical happiness health or freedom from pain. May I live with ease.”

Repeat the phrases with enough space and silence between so they fall into a rhythm that is pleasing to you direct your attention to one phrase at a time.

Each time you notice your attention has wandered, be kind to yourself and let go of the distraction. Come back to repeating the phrases without judging or disparaging yourself.

After some time, visualize yourself in the center of a circle composed of those who have been kind to you or have inspired you because of their love. Perhaps you’ve met them or read about them. Perhaps they live now or have existed historically or even mystically that is the circle as you visualize yourself in the center of it experience yourself as the recipient of their love and attention keep gently repeating the phrases of loving kindness for yourself.

Turn your attention to someone who has helped you; maybe they’ve been directly generous or kind, or have inspired you though you’ve never met them. When you think of them, they make you smile. Bring an image of the person to mind, or feel their presence as if they’re right in front of you. Say their name to yourself, and silently offer these phrases to them, focusing on one phrase at a time: May you live in safety. May you have mental happiness (peace, joy). May you have physical happiness (health, freedom from pain). May you live with ease. Don’t struggle to fabricate a feeling or sentiment. If your mind wanders, simply begin again.

Excerpted from  ‘Mindful’ magazine. Sharon Salzberg is a meditation teacher and New York Times best-selling author

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