Last Thursday, we started the next stage in our series the Journey and the Guide, moving from the theme of mindfulness and integration ion to the theme of Positive Emotion. Of course, we don't leave mindfulness and integration behind, we take them with us, and they develop as we gain a more expansive view of how things are.
We heard the story of how the young prince Siddhartha left the palace and began his spiritual quest. Symbolically, this story is about leaving 'the palace of me'.
A lot of our thinking is about protecting and seeking security for ourselves and our loved ones. We react to experiences according to how we think they will impact us, Much of our thinking is taken up with thinking along the lines of 'I don't like this - how can I make it stop, what did I do wrong to make it happen in the first place - what can I do to stop it happening again' - worrying, planning, blaming self or others. Or we are thinking that soething is pleasant, and we want it to continue and not change. And there are many experiences that we barely notice because they are neither confirming or threatening to our self view.
So last Thursday evening we were reflecting on how to change these habits of thinking.
We looked at two ways of meeting painful experiences more skilfully:
using our pain to connect us with others, remembering all other beings who are feeling as we do, rememberng that it isn't 'my pain' but part of the world's pain, arising from conditions, and no-one is to blame.
connecting with fundamental richness - so instead of closing in around a painful experience, we open out to the richness of life that is going on all around us and in us, expanding our view from narrow self interest.
Pema Chodron writes very powerfully about this is her book When Things fall Apart.
The evening ended with Naomi Shihab Nye's poem, Kindness, and a metta bhavana meditation.