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Lions Roar : March 2018
inclined toward positive mind states. By applying the jhana teachings, you can cultivate and sustain positive emo- tions. What we usually do when we feel a positive emotion is quickly move on to something else. Or we focus our atten- tion on what made us happy—a gift we are given, something we bought, or a kind word from a friend. Or we start worrying about when this positive feeling will end, or why we rarely feel this way. What we don’t do, but should do, is to put our attention directly on the subjec- tive feeling of the emotion that has arisen. When a pleasant emotion arises, you can cultivate it with mindful attention. What the jhanas teach us is to place our attention directly on the positive emotion and—this is important—simply watch it without judgment, commen- tary, or wanting it to stay. This is what it means to mindfully watch the emotion. When you do this with positive emo- tional states, the positive emotion will likely continue or increase. Since the mind is naturally inclined toward pleasant states, you can take advantage of this tendency to bring more positive emotions into your life. So the next time you have a positive emotion, see where that emotion is experienced in your body. Any positive experience will do. Say, you’re walking down the street and you see a small child do something that makes you smile. Put your atten- tion on your smile and any emotion you experience for at least twenty seconds. Just stay with the positive emotion. You might say to yourself something like, “Happiness is just like this.” Don’t start thinking about why you’re not happy all the time, or fearing that the happiness will end, or any of the countless other ways we mess up our positive emotions. The wisdom of the jhanas tells us when we experience joy, just relax and be joyful. When we are happy, just relax and be happy. ♦ actually creates delight is our immer- sion in the experience. In meditation, we often use the handy and fairly nonexciting object of the breath as a means to become absorbed and have pleasant experiences. But you can use any object of your atten- tion to achieve positive mind-states. To maintain and extend the posi- tive mind-states of jhana, we mindfully attend to the positive emotion itself, not to what triggered it. So, if you’re in the mind-state of contentment and want it to continue, place your attention on the emotional sensations of contentment. We are all quite good at putting our attention on negative emotions like anger, fear, guilt, shame, etc. If you attend to your negative emotions with mindful- ness, you’ll notice that they move through you and dissipate. But it’s the opposite with positive emotions. By mindfully attending to positive emotions, you can make them continue and even increase. This difference reveals how the mind is CEU’s AVAILABLE FOR NURSES AND SOCIAL WORKERS A transformative training in caregiving from a Zen Buddhist perspective. Ideal for caregivers such as physicians, nurses, social workers, hospice workers as well as those interested in becoming caregivers. SEPT 2018 - MAY 2019 NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS A NINE-MONTH TRAINING PROGRAM CLASSES MEET FRIDAYS & SATURDAYS, ONCE A MONTH LEARN MORE AT ZENCARE.ORG 119 W. 23rd Street, #401, New York, NY 10011 FOUNDATIONS IN CONTEMPLATIVE CARE NEW YORK ZEN CENTER FOR CONTEMPLATIVE CARE A COMPREHENSIVE TRAINING PROGRAM LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2018 22 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE