Category Archives: amends

Love Meditation Offering

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” ~ Leo Tolstoy

This love meditation, called Metta Meditation, is adapted from the Visuddimagga (The Path of Purification) by Buddhaghosa – 5th century C.E. and presented by Thich Nhat Hanh – a Zen Buddhist Monk:

To begin, sit still and calm your body and your breathing. Sitting still, you aren’t too preoccupied with other matters. 

Begin practising this love meditation on yourself (“May I be peaceful…”). Until you are able to love and take care of yourself, you can’t be of much help to others.

After that, practise on others (“May he/she/you/they be peaceful…”) – first on someone you like, then on someone neutral to you, then on someone you love, and finally on someone the mere thought of makes you angry. After practising the Metta Meditation, you may find that you can think of them with genuine compassion… 💕

May I be peaceful, happy and light in body and spirit.

May I learn to look at myself with the eyes of understanding and love.

May I be able to recognise and touch the seeds of joy and happiness in myself.

May I learn to identify and see the sources of anger, craving and delusion in myself.

May I know how to nourish the seeds of joy in myself every day.

May I be able to live fresh, solid and free.

May I be free from attachment and aversion, but not be indifferent.”

May this love meditation bring you so much bliss, you’ll breath it onto everyone you encounter today lifting their spirits.

Namaste 🙏🏻🕉💖

Thank you Jeff.

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“I fell in love with you because of the million things you never knew you were doing.”   ~ Unknown ~

To my love….

Thank you for your eternal patience,

while I shift, shed, rage and morph into my true essence.

Thank you for your encouragement,

while I struggle to wash away ancient blood and wrong ideas about myself.

Thank you for your warm embrace,

while I cry and grieve the loss of my ego-self.

Thank you for your support,

while I repeatedly and powerfully crash-land trying out my new wings.

Thank you for your tireless efforts to hold it all together,

while I anxiously search for a new life’s purpose beyond motherhood.

Thank you for your stability,

while I move between anger and bliss like a toddler.

Thank you for your generosity,

even when I’m wallowing in self-cherishing.

Thank you for your brilliance,

while I grope in the darkness before my dawning.

Thank you for staying diligently with me on this journey toward awakening,

even when we sometimes lose sight of each other along the way.

Thank you for having faith in my strength and courage,

even when I doubt myself.

Your extraordinary greatness inspires me to grow into my own greatness.

The strength of your love breaks opens my fearful heart.

The equanimity of your being quells my restless and anxious spirit.

I’m filled with deep gratitude to have found my greatest love and teacher in you.

To be able to spend my life living and growing old with you is a most precious gift.

Thank you.

All my love, forever and ever,

Jana

Note to self….

Note to self:

This past year has kicked your ass, ripped you open

and left you bleeding in the street.

Fear has left you feeling unloveable,

unworthy and overwhelmed.

You’ve been unkind to yourself

and allowed anger into your heart.

You’ve been manipulated and lied to by your ego.

Forgive yourself for all the mistakes you’ve made;

for unfairly judging yourself and others;

and for all the times you didn’t stand up for yourself.

Forgive others, even when they’re not sorry.

See the best in people,

even when they show you their worst.

Believe in yourself.

You have been through worse times than this

and came through them wiser and more resilient.

Believe in others and risk being let down and hurt.

A BROKEN HEART IS AN OPEN HEART.

Remember….vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.

Liberation through Accountability


“Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them; but do not let them master you. Let them teach you patience, sweetness, insight.” ~Helen Keller~

There is no word for shame or guilt in Tibetan. The closest translation is “intelligent regret that decides to do things differently.”  One of my biggest regrets is wasting so much of my energy on anger, instead of cultivating compassion. It wasn’t until I made the decision to look more closely at my anger, dig in and pull it out by the roots, that I discovered most of it came from feelings of shame.

I never set out to intentionally hurt anyone. I do the best I can with what I have to work with at any given moment in time. As I learn and acquire better tools, I become more adept at expressing myself honestly and productively, causing less collateral damage. When I’m wrong, I accept responsibility and endeavour to right that wrong. Denying my culpability is a complete waste of energy.  I cannot move forward and enact significant change in my life if I’m not accountable for every aspect of my life. I am the sole creator of my life experience.

Whenever conflict arises, it’s not always easy to see what my part is. It takes skill and rigorous honesty to unravel the knot and discover what part is mine. Then comes the real challenge… to not beat myself up about it. It’s this investigative process that leads me to a much deeper understanding of myself and others. This is where compassion is born.  However, if I’m being harsh with myself, that harshness will cloud my interactions with others. In order to gain freedom from anger and shame, I needed to snap out of delusion and fearlessly seek out the truth.

I began with my resentments. They serve as a rich guide, as I tend to resent in others what I most need to acknowledge in myself. When I took a hard look at my anger, my patterns became very clear. I have learned some painful truths behind my behaviours and expectations. I found that I often looked to others to fulfill my need to feel secure in myself…for validation and worthiness.  I allowed the behaviour of others to dictate whether I was happy or miserable.  I was a victim.

Through the following practice in honest accountability, I found liberation from shame and victim consciousness.  I discovered a well of happiness not dependent on outside circumstances… a sustainable happiness I could maintain by working with my mind. Taking people and circumstances out of the equation put me completely in charge of my levels of joy or suffering. The choice was, and is always, mine.

The practice:  Make a list of all your resentments, past and present. Give yourself permission to throw out all rationale and reasonableness and just vent all your feelings about the person or situation. Be as detailed as possible, but don’t worry about how accurate it is. Your perception is what matters in this exercise.

Next, write down how you were specifically affected by the circumstance that led to the resentment? Did it affect how you feel about yourself or what you believe others think and feel about you… your reputation?  Did it prevent you from getting something you wanted or did it cause you to get something you didn’t want?  Did it affect your sense of safety or security? Did it make you feel fearful or worried? Did it affect your finances? Did it affect your personal or professional relationships?

Now, describe any part you played in the event. This is where you need to be rigorously honest with yourself. There’s no point in this exercise if you’re just going to bullshit yourself.  Where were you harsh or judgmental… expecting others to behave the way you think they should?  Were you lacking in humility? Seeking to arouse jealousy? Was the need to be right (protecting your ego) the most important result to you?  Were you dishonest in any way? Be aware that blame is often dishonesty in disguise. Dishonesty includes, not only lies to others, but lies to yourself (denial) and things left unsaid.  Were you inconsiderate…only thinking of yourself?  Were you full of fear? Were you grasping… afraid of losing what you have or not getting what you want?

If you are able to be completely open and honest with yourself, you are likely to see your patterns of thoughts and behaviors underneath your resentments. It is only in identifying the hidden defense mechanisms we use and accepting responsibility for the role we play in all our interactions with others that we can begin to make real changes in our lives that create a new and healthy dynamic in all our relationships. Refusing to play the victim and allowing the behaviour of others to dictate our level of happiness is liberating. We will no longer be held hostage by our feelings, which, by the way, are constantly changing and very rarely based in fact.  As Helen Schucman says in A Course in Miracles, “Your understanding is not a powerful contribution to the truth.”  In other words, feelings aren’t fact. Anger, shame, fear….. all delusions.

So, be brave, seek out your truth and know peace.

Namaste.

Anger… my greatest teacher.

For the last few months I’ve been dealing with a very angry old man who has been terrorising my 14 year old son, who occasionally rides past his house to ride his motorbike in a large flat paddock in our community. I won’t go into very much detail except to say that it’s been bringing out the vicious mama bear in me.  As a Buddhist, I’m taught to practise loving-kindness and compassion toward all beings, but dealing with this man makes me want to kill!

My one small vindication (ok… let’s call it a rationalisation), is that my super patient, calm and reasonable husband has the same reaction to this person. We’ve tried to figure out how we’ve allowed this man to hijack our serenity and infect us with his misery. It feels as though he has some kind of super power, that when fuelled with alcohol, turns him into some kind of impenetrable demon. Trying to reason with him is like to trying to reason with a 2 year old mid-tantrum…. totally pointless.

What to do? We’ve tried ignoring him, but when he actively tries to seriously harm our son, we have to intervene. We’ve talked to the police who are unable to do anything until something happens, like our son ends up in hospital. We demand that our son always wear his Go-Pro so we have every interaction with this man on video, which I’ve uploaded into our police file so there’s a history of the abuse. We’ve even met with our community Board to attempt a compromise wherein we will minimise our son’s bike riding in that particular area. Never mind the thousands of dollars we spent buying him a quieter motorbike. So far, to no avail….

I’ve been desperately trying to find compassion toward this man who is clearly in the jaws of a serious alcohol problem and has a long and distinguished reputation of being a miserable prick!  Let me be clear here… I’m doing this for myself. This isn’t about changing him, but changing my reaction to him.  There will always be people or situations that cross my path that are unpleasant or downright infuriating. While I must take appropriate action to stand up for my rights and the rights of others to be free from tyranny and abuse, it’s also essential that I don’t add more anger and hatred to the mix. If I do…. everyone loses.

I recently began my tonglen meditation practice again in order to get back to my happy place and my body’s first reaction has been a wicked sore throat and cold. I’m hopeful this means it’s working.

My practice begins with this prayer:

“Having recognised the futility of my selfishness and the great benefit of loving others, may I bring all beings joy.  May I send all my virtues and happiness to others through the strength of my practice, and may I receive the suffering, obstacles and defilements of all motherly beings in all realms.”

I start by visualising a person or group of people who are suffering. I imagine their suffering pouring out of them as hot, dark smoke, as I breathe it all in deeply. I accept the feelings of pain and discomfort as they come forward.  This part is tricky as my first inclination is to move away from pain, almost reflexively.  When I catch myself doing that, I bring myself back to the discomfort, repeating the mantra, “May I remove all your suffering by receiving it fully.”

I then look toward a group of my loved ones and generate all the feelings of love I feel for them. Children and pets are particularly easy in helping to generate this pure, unconditional love as we don’t tend to hold any resentment toward them. I imagine this feeling of love as a healing white light surrounding me and dissolving the dark smoke within.

Next, I go back to those who are suffering and visualise the pure white light of love and compassion surrounding and embracing them. I repeat the mantra:”May I send you all my virtues and happiness and bring you joy.”

This tonglen practice can be done in 5 minutes when I practise it everyday. But if I’ve gotten away from it, it usually takes me longer as my mind is very busy and rambunctious, like a wild elephant.

The results are amazing and instant. Unfortunately, anger and resentment are difficult habits to break, so it takes a lot of practise to gain control of them. It can be frustrating in the beginning as it feels as though you can’t hold any image for more than a second before you start thinking about how annoying some person is or what you need to get done that day, ad infinitum.

Be patient with yourself and push through the roadblocks. It’s worth it… I promise.

Namaste

3 Things To Stop Saying Sorry For…

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Saying you’re sorry and meaning it is a powerful tool in taking responsibility for the consequences of your actions. It relieves you of guilt and empowers forgiveness and change.

However, we’re often saying sorry just for speaking our truth. Women, in particular, are prone to this social conditioning.  We’re so afraid of being thought of as a selfish bitch or a nag,  we suppress our truth and do what those around us want or need, often at the expense of our spiritual, mental and physical health.

It’s time to stop being sorry and start taking care of ourselves.  If you believe that makes you selfish, it’s time to look at the definition of the word…

“Selfish:  seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure or well-being without regard for others.”

Taking care of yourself and making sure your needs are met is not selfish as long as you are not completely disregarding the needs of others. I’m suggesting you put on your own oxygen mask first before attempting to help others.  Remember, you can’t give what you don’t have.  So, if you’re running on fumes, or worse, collapse altogether, you’re no good to anyone, least of all yourself.  Why not leave the martyrdom to the experts…

Here are 3 things we need to STOP saying sorry for:

  1.  Taking time for yourself – Exercising, resting, reading, meditating, vegging out in front of a movie, hanging out with your friends, date night with your main squeeze, or any activity you enjoy are all perfectly acceptable to engage in without feeling guilty. Whatever feeds your soul and brings joy & bliss to your heart, needs to be included in your list of priorities.  Making yourself a priority will empower those around you to do the same, which benefits everyone;
  2. Saying no  – Whether it’s help in some form, such as giving your money, time, resources, or your expertise in some area, it’s ok to say no. Of course, it’s important to help others when and where you can, but stretching yourself too thin weakens you and throws you out of balance.  I always ask the question, “Will my help empower or disempower them?”  I try to find ways to truly benefit others in such a way as to create independence and boost their confidence. This enables them to build strength and resiliency. The next question I ask is, “What is my motivation?”  Am I coming from a place of love and compassion or am I being self-serving in some way, such as, playing the hero to bolster my ego? Ensuring my motivation is pure is essential in every situation. When my help is peppered with wisdom and love, I find I don’t get out of balance or exhausted. It’s important to remember that sometimes saying no is an act of love.
  3. Asking for help – It’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to ask for help when you’re struggling.  I personally find this one the most difficult.  I am not an island, although sometimes I like to think I am. When you’ve been let down by someone, or many someones, who you counted on to be there, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing you can only rely on yourself and close off channels of connection. However, this disconnect can often to lead to narcissistic delusion. Together with my intuition, I need to bounce my ideas off trusted friends and family to gain a clearer picture of the truth.   Perspective can only be obtained through a broader view.  When we’re too close, everything becomes blurry.  So, don’t apologise for asking for help.  If you’re concerned about being a burden on someone, remember #2 – it’s their responsibility to tell the truth and say no if they need to.

VULNERABILITY

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“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”  ~Brene Brown~

Vulnerability, to me, means telling the truth, even when it gets me in trouble or causes me embarrassment.  It’s saying, “I’m sorry” and asking for forgiveness. It’s saying, “I don’t know” and, “I love you.”  It’s sharing my fears and secret shame with those I love and trust.  It’s admitting I was wrong and that you were right. It’s allowing myself to be really seen, flaws and all.  It’s following my dreams, despite the fear of failure.  It is writing this blog and sharing it with the world. 

Vulnerability feels like having a wide open heart; loving someone so much that they have the power to hurt me deeply, and loving them anyway.  It’s allowing others to care for me when I’m sick or grieving.  It’s sharing the truth when you ask me how I am feeling.

Being dependent is not vulnerability.  Dependency makes me feel weak.  I’m learning that there is a vast difference to being dependent and depending on others.  It takes vulnerability to depend on someone, knowing that they could let me down.  And if they do let me down, it’s knowing that I’ll be just fine, despite feeling hurt.  I think that’s the main difference.  Dependency creates the illusion that I have no power to create the life I want; that if you leave me or disappoint me, my life will come crashing down around me, causing irreparable damage.

Feeling pain is a sign of vulnerability.  Rather than run from it, I allow it to flow freely through me, rejoicing in the knowledge that my heart is open.  A closed heart doesn’t feel pain…it feels angry or numb, both defense mechanisms.  When my heart is really open, my spirit is aligned with Source energy.  This feels so amazing, it’s worth embracing and walking through the pain.

I would love to know what vulnerability means to you.  Please share your answers in the comments section below.

Namaste.

I’m sooooo sorry!

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“Classic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.”  ~ Aldous Huxley ~

I can only do my best in any given situation, depending on my level of awareness.  I can often drift into unconsciousness and not even notice I have caused harm.  If I am paying attention, however, I can always sense when I’ve said or done something that causes someone discomfort.

It is then that I go inside and analyze my motivation for whatever I said or did.  Was it ego motivated or sincerely from a place of wanting to help?  If my motivation was sincere, I then look at my delivery.  Was it harsh or lacking compassion?  If it was, or if I was coming from a place of ego, then I know that an amends is necessary. 

It is important to be clear about what I regret before I offer an amends.  We do not crawl or grovel before anyone.  That is not a sign of sincerity or humility, but an act of manipulation.  It says, “I have done this terrible thing, but look how sorry I am. That must mean I am really a good person.”  It puts others in the awkward position of having to validate you.  Begging for forgiveness places all the attention on you and discounts the other person entirely.  It is a performance of the ego.

True regret for a mistake is simply an acknowledgment of the act from a place of awareness, then an amends based on that awareness.  This process always benefits me more than whomever I make an amends to because it keeps me conscious and acutely aware of the energy I am putting out.  It is also an incredible humility builder.  The best part is that it releases me from the shame spiral.

When used correctly, there is great power in the words, “I’m sorry.”