“When we take the one seat on our meditation cushion we become our own monastery. We create the compassionate space that allows for the arising of all things: sorrows, loneliness, shame, desire, regret, frustration, happiness.” —Jack Kornfield, “Take The One Seat”
Consider how you can create a compassionate meditation or prayer space – what Jack Kornfield, Buddhist practitioner and writer of numerous books on Buddhism calls, your own monastery. It is within a quiet, contemplative and compassionate space that allows you to lean into your feelings especially the ones we think of as “negative”. It also allows you the space and time to disentangle from feelings and simply observe them.
The same contemplative monastery on the cushion allows for the space to send out compassion to our communities and our world. I don’t think I need to state the obvious about the rampant lack of basic civility in our society at the moment. I have practiced my own form of loving-kindness meditation and share it here.
Begin by sitting comfortably in a chair or on a meditation cushion in stillness and uprightness. Sit quietly breathing normally. Notice your breath.
As you breath in, say in your mind. “May I be filled with loving kindness” and on the exhale “May I be well.”
On the next in-breath “May I be at peace and at ease” followed by the out breath “May I be happy”.
Do this several times. Rest in the calmness. Focus on the breathe. Where there is any anxiety, shame, loneliness, unhappiness, etc. continue to breath in and out saying the meditation. When thoughts and stories pop up in your mind – and they will – acknowledge them and let them drift by.
After a while choose someone or your community and change the wording from May I be filled with loving kindness to May he/she/they be filled with loving kindness and so on. You may go on to meditate for your state, your country and finally including the world and then the universe. You may feel you want to breathe in loving kindness for yourself for weeks or months before moving on to an individual or community.
Through all of the practice allow yourself to be relaxed and at ease. Allow thoughts to float by and focus on breathing in and out. Let go of the “story”, the narratives, the thoughts and feelings and simply float along the breath.
You can also use a mantra like The Centering Prayer following the breath in and out, a piece of scripture or a psalm, the Jesus Prayer or simply a word like “peace”. I have “breathed” the Peace Prayer as a practice. Recently, I breathed the refrain from a song composed during a spiritual director’s workshop with Carrie Newcomer “it’s ordinary, extraordinary. It’s a true soul story and it’s holy. It is holy.”
I’m here to support you in the creation of your own monastery and your seat of compassion and would be happy to talk with you about your journey. Please feel free to email or call me.
In the meantime, Namaste, peace and all good, and blessings,