Faith seeking understanding #015: Learning from mindfulness and compassion

Faith seeking understanding, my personal journey towards a deeper knowledge of and intimacy with God, the cosmos, humanity and myself through thoughts, words and (occasionally) images, is a series of [hopefully] daily reflections I’m writing with the purpose of publishing something on a regular basis for others to read, either here, at joncarllewis.com or among my writings at Medium.com.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Sometimes one falls silent before great wisdom. Sometimes one is rendered unable to speak of the great lessons one has learned. This is how I feel about some of the lessons I’ve been learning from Tara Brach. For the past several weeks I’ve been listening to an audio recording of her book Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha. At first I was afraid that the soothing words and even more soothing insights would put me into a trace so deep I wouldn’t be able to drive and listen at the same time but, as it turned out, the reading and the text rendered me both calm and alert, no matter what emotional state I was in when I began to listen.

Over the weeks I’ve absorbed a lot of wisdom, learned some strategies for dealing with painful emotions, and glimpsed the possibility of a life lived fully but with equanimity. That said, I feel I have only tasted a drop of the ocean of wisdom Vipassana seems to contain. I am very interested in going deeper.

One of the small lessons I’ve learned has been about the cultivation of both mindfulness and compassion and how both, practiced together, can lead to the healing of deep, emotional pain. The idea is not to get rid of emotions or ignore them. On the contrary, one is invited to observe the emotions, especially noting their effects on the body. As one notices what is there, one is invited to welcome whatever emotion arises and even invite it to stay. Some masters have been known to greet such emotions—even strong ones—as cherished guests, inviting them to sit and have tea.

But mindfulness is only part of the practice. One is also invited to have compassion for the emotion, come to understand where it comes from and why it exists.

Then one can have compassion for oneself.

Then one can have compassion for others.

Wish me luck as I continue to explore, experiment with and work with these techniques. I can’t say that I have been freed from passions, but I do feel that the healing of my own, emotional pain has entered a new and powerful phase. I have become more willing and able to face my emotions—both “positive” and “negative.” I can see myself growing in my acceptance of the strong emotions of others while maintaining a sense of safety. I feel more balanced and more accepting of me as I am.

What I have been able to convey here is only a bit of what I have learned. I can’t even put it all into words.

But I invite you to practice with me.

And I invite you to share your experiences with how these and similar techniques have impacted your life and your perceptions of the world around you.

Namaste.

Thank you for your time and attention.
I’d love to know your thoughts on what you’ve read.
Please comment, below, or email me at joncarllewis@gmail.com.
May God richly bless you on your journey.

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Faith seeking understanding #015: Learning from mindfulness and compassion

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