Devine Abodes Meditation Instruction

Your Feedback is Welcome
Contact Stephen

posture picture

Enjoy These Lessons?

paypal image

Meditation for Opening Your Heart


'LINK' 1. Understanding These Practices
'LINK' 2. Taking Your Posture
'LINK' 3. Loving Kindness Meditation
'LINK' 4. Systematic Loving Kindness
'LINK' 5. Pervasive Loving Kindness
'LINK' 6. Compassion Meditation
'LINK' 7. Gratitude Meditation
'LINK' 8. Forgiveness Meditation


Loving Kindness - Compassion - Gratitude - Forgiveness

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. Understanding These Practices

Emotional Charge: The longer we live life the more traumas we are likely to experience and the more likely it is that we will find ourselves emotionally stuck. Any memory that we carry has an emotional charge attached to it, this is why we can remember it. When that memory comes up it also brings up that emotional charge and if we identify with it, the emotion attached to that memory will arise.
For example think of a happy memory with someone you care about, notice how when you think of this person a pleasant emotion arises, the pleasantness is the emotional charge attached to the image. Now notice if you sustain that memory that the feeling turns into an emotion, this may be an emotion of happiness, but it also can be an emotion of longing to experience that situation again.
Now bring up a memory of someone you dislike, notice the unpleasant feeling attached to this memory. Notice that when you sustain this memory the unpleasant feeling turns into an emotion of dislike, maybe even anger. It is with this understanding of how the mind works that we use this practice.

Replacing the Feeling: During these practices we purposely bring up and sustain the image of someone we love or respect so that it triggers off a positive emotional response. The next stage is to sustain and grow the feeling associated with this response until it infuses our whole body and mind. Once we have generated and sustained the positive emotion we can then bring up an image of someone we are having difficulty with, someone that brings a negative emotional response when we think of them.
By passing the emotion generated from the positive to the negative person, and sustaining the feeling unconditionally towards that negative person, the charge that their image carries will start to change until it becomes easy to generate a positive feeling towards them. At first you may feel a conflict, negative emotions may arise when you do this, this is just the positive emotion pushing the negative one out, think of it as cleaning house. If the negative feelings become too strong just swap back to the positive person and start again.
We can often find this in the relationship with ourself, feelings of unworthiness can come up and a reluctance to find ourselves loveable. Be patient and keep swapping the positive emotional feeling between the positive person and yourself, and bit by bit the emotional relationship with yourself will start to change.

Generating Feeling: The key here is to develop the positive feeling / emotion that comes with saying the particular phrases associated with the meditation practice. During Loving Kindness Meditation for example the most important thing is the ‘feeling of caring’, this is what you are practicing generating during this particular meditation practice. To understand this think of what it feels like when you tell a close friend or family member that you love them, the words are not just said in a offhand way but used to ‘carry’ the feeling of love to the person. Sadly we also use this understanding to carry the feeling anger in the words that we speak.

Once the feeling has been generated we then learn how to develop it, to encourage it to grow. Using gentle breathing can help strengthen the feeling, picture breathing out the love and caring to the person. Once the unconditional love is strong enough you can move onto the next person in the list, picture them in your mind and send them loving thoughts and so on. The same technique is used during all of the above meditation practices; the feeling generated is the meditation object, not the words themselves which are used to make the feeling arise.

This is the method of passing on the feeling: first generating it on a loved one then transferring / carrying that feeling over towards the person it is hard to build the feeling on, is a life changing skill indeed. Quite often we can find it hard to love ourselves unconditionally, in this case we can use the loved person before ourself, to generate the loving feeling and hand the feeling onto ourselves. You can then slowly move through all the people in the list, passing the loving feeling generated from one person to the next, ending with your difficult person and then back to yourself. In this way everyone becomes a loved one, including yourself, and there are no negative relationships towards anyone.

-----------------------------------------------------------------Next----------------------------------------------------------------

2. Prepare Your Posture for Meditation :

Meditation Posture:
Divine Abodes Meditation practices are training of the heart, they are called Divine Abodes because a person who perpetually lives in the states generated by them live 'As if in Heaven here on earth'. Since this is a training of the heart and mind not the body, the Buddha taught that you could meditate walking, standing, sitting or lying down, and everything in between. While there is no magic posture the way you hold your body does have an effect of the energy flow, comfort and alertness during your meditation practice. Mindfulness practice can be done walking, standing, sitting or lying down so any posture as long as you are aware of it is good. I have also practiced it on a lounge chair, on a car seat and lying on a bed or floor with great success.

The main thing is the continuity of mindfulness for the development of this practice.Take a comfortable posture that you can stay in without moving for the desired length of your meditation. Close your eyes and take a deep breath then breathe out letting all thoughts and tension drop away. Slowly scan from the top of your head to your feet and release any knots and tensions you come across by breathing into them.

1. Taking Your Posture



1. Sitting on the Floor:
When sitting on the floor it is important to take a posture that keeps your back straight and that you can maintain for a period of time without moving. Sitting flat on the floor requires a lot of flexibility in the hips, you can test this by sitting flat on the floor, if your knees have trouble touching the ground while your back is straight then you should consider using different props to help with your posture. Props such as a firm cushion under your backside raise your hips off the ground, changing the angle of your legs. This lowers the flexibility needed in the hips to maintain the posture.

Instead of crossing your legs I recommend trying the Burmese meditation posture which instead of crossing the legs on top of each other, places one leg in front of the other flat on the floor, this lowers the pressure on your hips and make it easier to attain good body posture.
To this sit down and fold one leg into your body so that the sole of the foot is facing the inside thigh of the other leg, next fold the other leg in front of it. In this way the legs are folded next to each other but not on top of each other, this prevents the pain and numbness that comes from the pressure of one limb pushing against the other. If this is still difficult and you are determined to sit on the floor you can place a roll between your legs with your legs folded back under you. If this still isn't comfortable then go easy on yourself, get to know your body and what it can and can't do, accept it and then work with what you have, there are other postures just as good like a chair or lying down on the floor.

2. Lying on the Floor:
When lying on the floor make sure your body is flat, if you have back troubles you can slightly bend your knees and place a bolster under them to help with your backs arch. To keep alertness so that you don't fall asleep have your arms loose by your sides and always have the palms facing upwards as this will help with the energy flow. It is also an unusual posture for most of us and so helps ward off the biggest enemy of this posture - falling asleep.

3. Sitting in a Chair:
When sitting in a chair do not lean back against the back rest, this will cause your back to slump and lead to discomfort and a drop in energy levels. Instead see if you can sit towards the front of the chair, as in the picture, and slightly rotate your hip forward. Your forearms and hands can sit gently on your legs, make sure your head is not slumped but evenly balanced.

-----------------------------------------------------------------Next----------------------------------------------------------------

3. Loving Kindness 'Metta' Meditation:

We can consciously develop our positive mental qualities through these Loving Kindness meditation techniques. Metta – Loving Kindness is a meditation that helps us to open our hearts to ourselves and others. If practiced regularly it becomes our natural way of responding to any situation. What is really remarkable about this is when we react with an open heart any difficult situation we come across in life tend to dissolve within themselves, and difficult people become our friends. It may sound unbelievable but it is true, of course the only way you will ever know is to try it for yourself.

Metta – Loving Kindness has the feeling of caring and support, it can be directed at ourselves and others, removing any feeling of separateness. It is the direct opposite to anger and ill-will and as such can be used to weaken or remove these negative patterns. This is because only one thinking pattern can exist at any moment, we can’t dislike and care for someone at any one time, taking advantage of this we can replace a negative emotion attached to a pattern of thought with a positive one and make the positive our dwelling place.

-----------------------------------------------------------------Next----------------------------------------------------------------

4. Systematic Metta

In this meditation you send kind thoughts in this order, bring to mind someone in each category before starting:

1. Yourself
2. Someone you respect / admire
3. Someone very close to you
4. Someone you feel neutral to, neither like or dislike
5. A difficult person in your life



Remember to develop an open heart means to open it to everyone and eventually have no enemies, only loved ones.

Instruction:
After taking your meditation posture as above make a half smile on your face, relax once more and picture or feel the first person (no. 1) smiling back at you. Gently repeat quietly in your mind the below phrase softly, in no hurry the wish for happiness and really mean it:

"May I be well … happy …. and peaceful”

If the feeling does no arise easily towards yourself, do not worry, trying changing the tone of the words so that the emotional charge is your wish to be happy, coming form a basis of compassion towards your own pain. Once the feeling of caring has built up move on the the next person (no.2)

"(their name) May you be well … happy …. and peaceful”

You can then slowly move through all the people in the list, passing the loving feeling generated from one person to the next, ending with your difficult person and then back to yourself. Do not rush, take your time, use the ..... gaps to carry over and build the caring feeling between each word. Remember that the important part is not the words but the feeling of caring that is generated by repeating them.

-----------------------------------------------------------------Next----------------------------------------------------------------

5. Pervasive Metta

Pervasive Metta is similar to the Systematic Metta practice except instead of sending it to individuals you send it to groups starting with yourself and slowly increasing your range until you include the whole universe. Now slowly and gently repeat as thoughts in your mind moving through these categories:

1. Yourself
2. Everyone in the room / household
3. Suburb
4. In all directions
5. Yourself




*You can play with these and create your own, start with yourself, move outwards, the back again
Keep gently repeating the phrase to yourself softly, in no hurry and really mean it. The key here is to develop the positive feeling that comes with saying these phrases. Once the feeling has developed you start sending it out into the room.

Instruction:
After taking your meditation posture as above make a half smile on your face, relax once more and picture or feel the first person (no. 1) smiling back at you. Gently repeat quietly in your mind the below phrase softly, in no hurry the wish for happiness and really mean it:

1. ”May I be well … happy …. and peaceful”

Next move onto the next group (no.2)

2. ”May everyone in this room be well … happy …. and peaceful”

3. ”May everyone in this (suburb name) be well … happy …. and peaceful”

4. ”May all beings in all directions be well … happy …. and peaceful”

Send your thoughts of wellbeing out into your neighbourhood, suburb, city, state, country and keep increasing the range, pass the feeling along until the loving feeling is equal towards everyone and everything.

-----------------------------------------------------------------Next----------------------------------------------------------------

6. Karuna – Compassion Meditation

Karuna – Compassion has the feeling of embracing the person and sharing their pain, it is like a warm cozy blanket that can be directed at ourselves and others removing any feeling of separateness and easing the suffering. It is the direct opposite to cruelty and indifference and as such can be used to weaken or remove these negative patterns.

In this meditation you send your wish for the subject to be free from any suffering in this order:

1. Yourself
2. Someone you know is suffering (not too close or a hostile person)
3. All beings




*Remember to develop an open heart means to open it to everyone and see them in regards to their suffering and our desire to end it.


Instruction:
Begin your meditation as in Systematic and progressive Metta but replacing the below phrases:

1. ”May I be free from mental suffering”, “May I be free from physical suffering”, “Physically and mentally at ease”, “May I be able to take care of myself, happily”

2. ”May you ……….

3. ”May everyone ……


Once the emotional feeling of compassion / caring has developed you can move onto the next person in the list changing a few words to suit as above. Slowly move through all the people in the list, passing the feeling generated from one person to the next until you are sending it in all directions to all beings.

-----------------------------------------------------------------Next----------------------------------------------------------------

7. Gratitude Meditation:

Gratitude is not called the king of emotions but often it feels like it to me, gratitude as an emotion has the ability to make any negative emotional state that is stuck, move. Negative emotional states get stuck because we are focussing on, through our thinking, what we don’t have instead of appreciating and being thankful for what we do.


Instruction:
Take your meditation posture, make a half smile on your face, relax. Now slowly and gently repeat as thoughts in your mind: ”Thankyou for my (insert here)” “I am so blessed”, ”Thankyou for my (insert here)” “I am so fortunate”

Keep gently repeating these phrases to yourself softly, in no hurry and really mean it, smile when you say it. The key here is to develop the feeling of being grateful that comes with saying these phrases. Now picture someone you have gratitude towards in a happy state of mind and in your mind then gently say

”Thankyou for all you have done for me”, “I am blessed to have you in my life”

Keep focussing on them in your mind and allow the feelings of gratitude to grow. Next send your thoughts of gratitude out into your neighbourhood, suburb, city, state, country and keep increasing the range

"Thankyou for all that I have, I am truly blessed”

Posture / Place:
I find that gratitude meditation is best practiced laying in bed just before I fall asleep and when I wake up in the morning. If we reflect on how fortunate we are before we fall asleep we tend to sleep well and also have pleasant dreams. If we don't then our perception of 'lack' in life will influence how deeply we sleep and also the types of dreams that arise.

Starting the day reflecting through gratitude influences our whole day, if you do it reguarly you will find your happiness and relationships will change, they will come back into balance - what could be better then that.

-----------------------------------------------------------------Next----------------------------------------------------------------

8. Forgiveness Meditation:

Forgiveness does not condone or deny what has happened to us, instead it recognises it and says,

“What happened was wrong, but it can’t be changed and I will not suffer over it anymore”.

1. Gently inside you head say to yourself: “(your name here) if I have hurt you in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, please forgive me”
Say this slowly and gently with meaning three times and each time picture yourself gently saying back “I forgive you”

2. Now think of someone that you have hurt in some way, picture them in a happy state of mind and gently inside your head say to them: “(their name here) if I have hurt you in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, please forgive me”

Say this slowly and gently with meaning three times and each time picture them gently saying back “I forgive you”

With this one you can go through multiple people, start at the easiest and move towards the hardest, allowing your concentration to build up, your main focus is always on the emotional feeling behind the phrases, the feeling of forgiveness.

3. Now think of someone that has hurt you in some way, start at the easiest and work your way towards the hardest, one at a time, picture them individually in a happy state of mind and gently inside your head say to them:“(their name here) for any have hurt that you have caused me in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, I forgive you”

Say this slowly and gently with meaning three times and each time picture them gently saying back “thankyou”

-----------------------------------------------------------------Next----------------------------------------------------------------

Practicing in Daily Life

These meditation techniques are meant to be practiced during daily activities, it is a very important part of your meditation practice. Since we are dealing with habitual negative ways of reacting the way to reverse this habit is by constantly reapplying / practicing its opposite. The place where our negative habits arise and control us is when we are under stress, interacting with life. Use this as an opportunity to learn about yourself, watch your own reactions and learn that you do not have to follow them when they arise.

If a negative pattern arises, for example you are feel anxious or irritated, start repeating the loving phrases ”May I be well … happy …. and peaceful” to yourself and generate the loving feeling. If you do this in conjunction with the formal sitting practice you will find as your skill develops and the loving feeling will be easier to encourage to arise and the conflicts and reactions in your life will subside.

You can do this for all these practices, each one is a tool in your toolkit for happiness in life. For example when you find yourself getting negative, whinning about this and that, feeling down, start reflecting on what you have to be grateful for, your attention will then shift from the negative to the positive and you will find it easy to engage and smile again.

-----------------------------------------------------------------Top----------------------------------------------------------------

Purpose of these meditation Practices

Through this practice you will come to understand better any negative habitual ways of reacting that you might have. If you watch closely enough you will stop feeding them and eventually their momentum will run out. Negative mental patterns only stick around because we invite them to stay, we give them constant exercise and food. Cut off their food supply and they will be like a vine cut off at the base. The fruits will just dry up and drop off. Mindfulness meditation cuts off the food supply to negative mental patterns through understanding and wisdom that comes from deep observation
Once we understand deeply enough we can cut the cycles and end suffering –

what could be better then that?

Stephen Procter
Sydney, Australia


shadow divider

Your Feedback is Welcome Contact Stephen or Comment on Facebook above



© Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved

This article was written by Stephen Procter, instructor from Tai Chi Health for Life, Australian College of Tai Chi & Qi Gong and Meditation Instructor from Meditation in the Shire, Kirrawee NSW, Australia. If you wish to post this article on another website or in a publication please respect the author and reference / link back to this website, thank you


shadow divider