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Good evening and welcome to Monday Group Meditation. Since it seemed to work well last week our time window will remain the same, extending from 7:30 to 10:00 PM EST. It is not necessary to sit for the entire time, sit for as long as you like and when it is most convenient for you.

Seated Buddha sculpture blanketed in snow
Backyard Buddha blanketed in snow
Monday Group Meditation is open to everyone, believers and non-believers of all stripes who are interested in gathering in silence. If you are new to meditation and would like to try it for yourself, Mindful Nature gave a good description of one way to meditate in an earlier diary, copied and pasted below:

"It is a matter of focusing attention mostly. In many traditions, the idea is to sit and focus on the rising and falling of the breath.  Not controlling it, but sitting in a relaxed fashion and merely observing experiences of breathing, sounds, etc.  Be aware of your thoughts, but don't engage in them.  When your mind wanders (it will, often), then return to focus on breath and repeat."  

Why is it that our compassion for ourselves is frequently the first thing to fly out the proverbial window when things become uncomfortable?

Although I am very recently retired, the last few years I worked in an emotionally harsh environment. Nearly every one of my colleagues were angry conservatives. White males of a certain age, fearful of the way the world is changing around them, nice people on the surface, but completely lacking in compassion for anyone more than an arm’s length away from themselves.

Political discussions happened nearly every day, and my response was either to just leave the room when it was possible to make an unobtrusive exit, or to sit in silence with my body tightening in resistance saying what I’m told is a Hawaiian prayer over, and over and over.

I’m sorry, please forgive me (for my part in creating this)
I love you (just as you are)
Thank you (for showing me what I need to heal in myself)

It didn’t make any difference which way I responded, I always berated myself for my resistance to the discussions taking place. In retrospect I can see that at least I did not speak out in anger, from a lack of compassion myself. So there’s that. I never lost sight of how fearful my colleagues were, and yet I never allowed my heart to soften towards my own difficulty for being in that environment until I was able to leave the environment for good and finally get some distance from it. It is because of experiences like this that the following quote is particularly meaningful for me.

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.--The Buddha
When we are generous with compassion towards ourselves, we become free to see and accept, even love ourselves in others.

Originally posted to DKos Sangha on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 04:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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