Saturday, February 26, 2011

Just notes

Tibetan blue sky

A couple of days ago, before I was felled by the flu, I participated in a live webinar on contemplative activism.   The Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education hosted the webinar, and the speaker was John Makransky, the author of Awakening through Love: Unveiling Your Deepest Goodness. Makransky teaches at the Harvard Divinity School, and the webinar was aimed at those who work in areas of service and social justice. It was designed to offer methods and practices for preventing emotional burnout and 'compassion fatigue,' as well as ways to strengthen your sense of presence in relation to yourself and others. I have practiced mindfulness meditation for years, sometimes more diligently than others, but I am finding that it's really the main reason that I am coping at all with the particular difficulties of my life. Makransky's presentation drew heavily from the principles of Tibetan practices of compassion, and he led us through a couple of meditations in addition to answering questions from the more than 100 online participants.

During one of the meditations, as we were led into a deep relaxation, I saw a blue, blue sky, in my mind, a blue sky that opened up and poured into an open head. I don't know of any other way to describe it.

I also took some notes and have transcribed them here:
  1. compassion practices in Tibet to empower letting go, to inherent capacity, drawing on power of loving compassion to relax more fully
  2. the array of figures in the following drawing help us to draw upon our benefactors -- those people, figures both ancient and modern who embody tremendous love and compassion
  3. the meditator communes with those figures and the mind relaxes so deeply that it settles into a pre-conceptual state in which peace and simplicity is available
  4. an exercise: we took deep breaths and called on our own benefactors, those who have aided us on our journey, those who make us happy, who give us joy. In calling upon our benefactors we reconnect with them and receive their lovingkindness; we merge into one-ness with benefactors and achieve a natural simplicity
At the end of the webinar, I emailed the question I am a mother of a child with significant disabilities. I know the value of meditation for myself, but I am wondering how I can meditate or can I meditate for my child since she cannot?

Dr. Makransky answered by saying that we need to learn to be present ourselves -- to being held in lovingkindness before we can actually meditate for others. We must get out of our own way. 

That's what I'm thinking about today, as I crawl out from under the flu. I'm calling on my benefactors, those beautiful souls upon whom I send lovingkindness and from whom I accept the same.


  1. If I were to do that meditation, I would think of you, Elizabeth. You are one who embodies love-and-kindness to me in a way which astounds me daily.

  2. Just finished my yoga this morning and wished my mind had been into it as much as my physical body was.I often am just focused on the finishing and forget the mind stuff.Big problem getting out of the way of myself.

    Send loving kindness to you my friend as well as healing prayers.

    Have I ever mentioned to you my wish to go to Butan someday?Zoey's primary nurse in the NICU was there for a year before she became a nurse.I listened for 3 months, as I sat vigil beside the little love, about her experience there and have also watched a few documentaries and well.Oh to achieve that peace and happiness.Would certainly be nice,wouldn't it?

  3. Sending lovingkindness and healing thoughts to you, my friend.

  4. I haven't been online as much recently, and just caught up with all the posts your wrote that I missed. Sorry you're sick. Glad all the kids are back in business. The meditation sounds profoundly healing. I hope it continues.

    It never dawned on me to meditate on behalf of someone else. What a great idea!

  5. May you be held in compassion.
    May your aches and pains be eased.
    May you be at peace.

    Namaste Elizabeth

  6. you constantly make me want to be a better person and also to advocate for my own messed up brain wiring. I adore you.

  7. It is not because of arrogance that I will disagree with his reply. There is no better way I know of to get out of the way than to make the way to another without thoughts of one's own needs. When sending healing thoughts, of health or spirit, embracing someone in some other dimension that only love and caring can inhabit, the "persona" has no place there, at least in
    my experience.

    I sit quietly, some times laying in bed I just think about the trials the one I am focusing on may be going through and how a gentle thought, a wish for better and complete rest from the storm may be brought through a Universe that holds goodness above evil, in spite of what we may think at
    times. And I open my breast as wide as I can and take deep breaths and send my spirit to the one who needs an anchor to the wind. It may not be possible
    according to him to do any good because the self is there, but without the self there won't be either intent or action as I believe that no energy is
    ever wasted or dispersed without purpose, and while the self doesn't necessarily represent the ego, it helps to concentrate on the message and forget the messenger. I learned a long time ago to do this by quietly seeing
    the words appear in my mind, while painting each phrase with my imagination and projecting it to the one I am thinking of.

    "Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
    Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
    Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font:
    The firefly wakens: waken thou with me.

    Now droops the milkwhite peacock like a ghost,
    And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.

    Now lies the Earth all Danae to the stars,
    And all thy heart lies open unto me.

    Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
    A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.

    Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
    And slips into the bosom of the lake:
    So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
    Into my bosom and be lost in me."

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

    It may not be a "silent mind" meditation but it certainly works for me and the peace I feel after resting there I am sure somehow it reaches those I love. I certainly hope it reaches you and Sophie.

  8. I see that blue too... though it's been a while.


  9. I love the concept of holding oneself in lovingkindness. It's amazing how hard it can be to do. Thank you for sharing this.



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