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Lions Roar : September 2017
with kindness and honesty, and it makes it possible for us to stay with our hurts; it is only when we recognize and feel our wounds that we can begin to free our- selves of them. Then it is possible to open our hearts to others. When you meet your suffering, your path becomes one of healing. However, it is only when you lean into your pain while holding yourself with tenderness that the wound itself can become a portal to trans- formation. The Buddha talked about com- passion as “tenderness of heart.” With both compassion and mindfulness practice, your heart and mind can gradually soften and open to life. The meditations and practices presented in this book will give you a path to walk with loving presence and an approach to help guide your efforts. Early Buddhist teachings arose in the simplicity and structure of monasteries. Ordinary people in today’s world crave direct experience of the sacred in their lives and long for practices that allow them to access inner happiness and live life with equanimity and compassion. While attempting to cope with the snowballing stresses in our contemporary world, you may notice yourself detach- ing from others, from your community, and from political and environmental concerns. This increasing sense of separa- tion and anonymity can lead to fear and alienation in what feels like an uncaring and unsafe environment. This “trance of separation,” as Bud- dhist teacher Tara Brach calls it, leads to an endemic perception of not being good enough. You may be experiencing this feeling in your own life, which leads to a sense of self-criticism. It can make you feel that you are not capable of getting everything done or that you fear you will not do things well enough. Fear is often at the root of your wounded heart: it might be the fear of blatant danger; the fear of what happens when the known comes to an end; or the fear of not being validated, included, or loved. Fear makes you contract—turn against yourself and others—which can then lead to frustration, guilt, and shame. There is a dynamic interplay between the emphasis on compassion for yourself and compassion for all. In fact, the practices of mindfulness meditation, self-compassion, and compassion for all are interconnected. Through mindfulness meditation, you connect to the all-pervasive benevolent field, and with your practice of intention for the well-being of all, you connect to the world. As your wounded heart begins to heal with self-compassion, it naturally begins to fill with generosity and kindness. The boundaries of your self-preoccupation begin to loosen, and compassion for yourself widens to embrace compassion for all life. ♦ From Heartwork: The Path of Self-Compassion— 9 Practices for Opening the Heart, by Radhule Weininger. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications. LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2017 75