|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:
- compassion practices in Tibet to empower letting go, to inherent capacity, drawing on power of loving compassion to relax more fully
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.