Monday, May 6, 2019


I'm sure that plenty of people have done this or something very similar before. With no claim to originality, then, I have been working on this meditation on the heart. I write it down mostly so that I can learn it better myself.
I start out with a few good whole-body breaths, with a conscious effort to awaken every part of the body into restful awareness. I use each in-breath to stimulate wakeful awareness, and each out-breath to allow the body to relax. Resting in awareness is what I believe to be the meditative state.
Once there, I turn my attention to the task of locating the physical heart in the left side of the chest. At this stage, I think of it purely as a muscle and watch it attentively as it pumps out blood (and practice a moment of gratitude for its eighty-plus years of faithful service!) For the time being I try to restrict myself to the observation of its physical functioning, but expand my attention to include the passage of blood through the arteries and main veins, feeling the pulse where I can, until I can rest in awareness, for a time, to the blood as it reaches the most distant places in the body from the heart--the fingertips and toes.
Once in tune with the heart and its physical function, I bring my attention to its role as fulcrum of the emotional life. What feelings am I harboring there, as I sit at this moment and observe. Is there anger? Fear? Grief or sadness? Joy? I sit quietly with the experience of whatever it is I find there, insofar as possible without attachment. I allow the feelings to arise as they will, and fade into the background.
The next task is to find the goodwill and compassion in my heart. I think of it as creating and settling down into a heart-space. As in the metta practice, it is first for myself: may I find true happiness and the source of happiness, and allow that compassion to pervade the physical body and the observing mind. Then, always in restful attention to the heart, I send my compassion out to others--first to family and close friends--those people that I love--then to those I know less well, and those I don't know at all, paying special attention to those I do not like at all! May we all find true happiness in our lives...
... and expand that heart-space to allow room for other living beings--those that walk the earth as well as the insects and creepy-crawlies, those that swim in the water and those that fly above us in the sky. May all living beings live with true happiness in their lives...
... and expand the heart-space ever outward and in all directions, north and south, east and west, above and below, all the way to infinity. So that by the end of the meditation my heart is breathing in, breathing out, in mindful harmony with the universe itself.

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