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Lions Roar : March 2015
directly at your sorrow. Simply acknow- ledging it—and, beyond noticing it, feeling it—has an immediate pacifying effect. It sounds counterintuitive: how can feeling pacify feeling? Well, I don’t know exactly, but I do know that when you fight your feelings, they are in control. When you invite them in, unruly and ill-mannered as they are, you reclaim the throne. There are three practices you can do to enable you to host the situation rather than be commandeered by it, one each for obsession, shame, and doubt. They aren’t easy but, mysteriously, they work—not by stemming the tide of loss, but by showing you how to dive in and swim. 1. Reassert dominion over your own mind Your thoughts will continue to run roughshod unless you develop a kind way of relating with them. That’s what meditation is. In the Buddhist tradition, meditation is the simple act of being with yourself as you feel what you feel. “Being with”—as opposed to “working on”—turns out to be a more expeditious way of metabolizing sorrow. Try to medi- tate daily. The more you practice, the more readily your mind will learn how to return itself to a state of balance. YOU CONTAIN MULTITUDES Susan Piver shares her practice for loving them all. • Begin by offering loving-kindness to yourself in your ordinary form. This is the “you” that you see in the mirror. • Next, imagine yourself as a beloved. See yourself through the eyes of love and offer loving-kindness to this version of yourself. No matter how puny you may feel right now, there are still parts of you that you simply love. See this. 2. The antidote to shame is to love yourself, just as you are You can love yourself as you are, with all of your beauty, confusion, brilliance, and absurdity. What helps me do this is to practice loving-kindness meditation, but with a personal twist. Traditional loving-kindness practice asks you to offer love and good wishes to yourself, a loved one, a teacher or benefactor, a stranger, an enemy, and then to all beings. In my ver- sion, you place yourself in each of these positions, and then offer yourself the loving-kindness you need and deserve. (See practice below.) 3. Offer love to all who are heart-broken The best antidote to a broken heart, and the mistrust that comes with it, is to abandon any view of yourself as the sorry victim. Instead, recall that your broken heart is an indication of just how much love you are capable of, and then offer that love to others. Heartbreak feels dreadful, I know. However, with just one click of the dial, it is possible to see this storehouse of pain as a storehouse of power. How is it possible to begin loving ©ISTOCK.COM/BTROT60 when you feel so bereft? By offering your love to all those who share your experi- ence. Offer your love to all beings who are brokenhearted, starting with yourself. Then, move on to a loved one who is suf- fering from heartbreak (or may in the future). Next, think of a great teacher of yours. This person too has had their heart broken. Now, move on to a stranger. No matter how little you know of this person, you can believe that he or she has experienced what you are now experiencing. Offer loving-kindness. Then bring to mind an enemy, some- one who has hurt you. You don’t have to forgive this person for anything in order to recognize that he or she is also trying to find love and has failed. Wish them well. Finally, send loving-kindness to all beings who find themselves with a bro- ken heart right now. This very powerful gesture reminds you just how large your heart really is. • Next, see yourself as your most important teacher. There is a part of you that is wise and intui- tive. Offer this “you” loving-kindness. • Move on to the view of yourself as a stranger. There are parts of you that you just can’t see, parts that are shrouded and mysterious. Offer loving- kindness to this stranger that is you. • After this, bring to mind yourself as an “enemy.” This does not mean what you dislike about yourself. It refers to the part of you that is most fragile and wounded, and therefore acts in ways that create chaos for you and those in your life. See yourself as this person who is laboring under great confusion. Offer loving-kindness to this version of yourself. • Finally, bring all of these fascinating, beautiful, difficult pieces together and offer loving-kindness to all of you. Stop running, turn around, and look directly at your sorrow. SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2015 22 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE