The four Brahmaviharas are Metta – Loving Kindness, Karuna – Compassion, Mudita – Sympathetic Joy and Upekkha – Equanimity, which when practiced can be used to weaken and replace negative mind states. They are divine abodes because they are positive mental states of mind that bring about happiness to ourselves and others, they can be used as a refuge from negative mental states such as anger and greed which bring pain to ourselves and everything we come in contact with.
Loving Kindness is used to dissolve anger and hatred, Compassion is used to dissolve thoughts of indifference, cruelty and revenge, Sympathetic Joy is used to dissolve jealousy and envy, Equanimity itself is a balanced state of mind in which none of these negative states can find footing. In its pure state true Equanimity is a resultant which can only be attained through deep concentration, fourth Jhana, which is impermanent or through deep understanding as to the nature of reality which is impermanent at lower levels but permanent at maturity.
Negative ways of reacting hurt not only others but ourselves as well, we need to understand this. Feeling anger towards someone or something is likened to picking up faeces and throwing it at the other person, no matter how careful you are some of it will stick on you. Have you ever looked inside yourself and felt how anger feels, feel the tightness around your heart, the burning in your stomach, it isn’t pleasant. It feels like an illness inside and even worse after the initial situation has happened we often carry it around inside, reliving it, for the next hour, day, week, year, 80 years, its insane. Whether we are the aggressor or victim we both suffer, because of this it makes sense to find away out, a balm to relieve the pain and to end the torment
The more often we act out these negative mental patterns not only physically but inside our heads, the stronger they become and the more likely it is that they we will be our normal way of reacting. This goes the same if we are the aggressor or victim, both get caught in a self created prison of habitual thinking, a self imposed place of torture. This is because we are exercising these patterns of thinking again and again. If you lift heavy weights in the gym you will get strong muscles, in the same way if you follow your negative patterns they will get stronger. Eventually they get so strong that you can no longer resist them, they not only become the most likely way you will react when your buttons are pushed, they also become the traits that define you, the person that you are. Because of this you will feel ill inside, lose your friends, family and feel constant emotional pain within.
Does anyone really want this for themselves?
In this same way you can exercise positive ways of thinking, and make them so strong that they become your natural way of thinking and reacting. No longer will anyone be able to press your buttons, you will change the way in which you automatically react to the world, the way you feel inside, the way others react to you and create the person that you want to be.
If given the choice what are the parts you want to build yourself out of? Kindness, compassion and caring or do you want to be an angry, vindictive and aggressive, think about it because you have a choice.
Below is links to meditation techniques that you can use to change your way of thinking and to bring more happiness and peace into your life
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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