Theme – The theme for this week is Loving-Kindness. At its core, loving-kindness is the deep and sincere wish for yourself and others to be genuinely happy. It is not an attached love or kindness focused only on people we like or who are kind to us. By cultivating loving-kindness, we are cultivating the direct antidote to the mental and emotional states of anger and hatred. You cannot have love and hate for the same thing at the same time. You can have love turn to hate or hate to love in a moment, but they cannot exist simultaneously in the same moment. The more love and kindness we have, the more difficult it is for anger and hatred to arise. Understanding this, we can recognize the value of consciously cultivating the immeasurable attitude of loving-kindness. As it grows within us, it limits the space available for harmful attitudes to take root.
Inspiration – “It is through giving warmth and affection, through being genuinely concerned for others —in other words, through compassion— that we gain the conditions for genuine happiness.” 14th Dalai Lama
Today’s inspiration continues the dynamic we have been working with for the last couple days. Our attitudes and how we treat others have a direct impact on our own well-being. In fact, it is the most determinant factor of our own sense of value and ultimately the degree of happiness and well-being that we achieve in our lives.
There is a direct correlation between how much we think only of ourselves and our desires and how much mental and emotional suffering we have. The less self-centered we are and the more other-centered we become and the greater is our sense of value and genuine happiness. It turns out the more self-centered we are, the less self-esteem we have. Likewise, the more self-esteem we have, the less self-centered we are.
When we focus only on ourselves, we will naturally be in a constant state of comparison and competition with others. Instead of growing a sense of connection with others and an attitude of gratitude, feelings of dissatisfaction, insecurity, worry, fear, anger, and hatred are more likely to arise, robbing us of our inner peace, well-being, and joy. These feelings are predominantly self-centered and self-concerned. They spring more from our desires than our needs. In general, our actual needs are usually met but our desires can become endless.
Cultivating loving-kindness and a genuine concern for others takes us out of our own cycle of self-interest and allows us to focus on meaningful activities that foster a deeper connection with all life has to offer. Instead of being the center of the universe, we become an integral part of it.
Activity – Today we invite you to notice how often your desires get confused with your needs. Try to think of everyone you meet today as a dear friend and approach them with care and concern.
Weekly Mindfulness Exercise – This week we invite you to participate in a three minute mindfulness practice. This is another great practice to help you stay mindful and present in the moment.
Sit or stand up straight and relax your body.
First minute – Focus all of your attention on your breath. Let the breath be natural and just focus your attention on the sensations of the breath.
Second minute – Focus your attention on the physical sensations of your body.
Third minute – Expand your attention by becoming aware of your surroundings. Just observe without engaging. What do you see and hear?
Try to do this at least 3 times during the day.