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Buddhadharma : Summer 2010
29 summer 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly some options offered below. You can alter them in any way, or use others that you have created out of their unique personal significance. To begin the practice, take as comfortable a position as possible, sitting or lying down. Take a few deep soft breaths to let your body settle. Bring your attention to your breath, and begin to silently say your chosen phrases over and over again, in rhythm with the breath. You can also experiment with just having your attention settle in the phrases, without using the anchor of the breath. feel the meaning of what you are saying, yet without trying to force anything. let the practice carry you along. May I offer my care and presence without conditions, knowing they may be met by gratitude, anger or indifference. May I find the inner resources to truly be able to give. May I remain in peace, and let go of expectations. May I offer love, knowing I can’t control the course of life, suffering, or death. I care about your pain, yet cannot control it. I wish you happiness and peace, but cannot make your choices for you. May I see my limits compassionately, just as I view the limitations of others. D caregiving role, even though they have all the goodheartedness in the world, burnout is the specter that hovers close. Some years ago, on the request of roshi Joan Halifax, I wrote the following loving-kindness meditation especially for caregivers, in honor of their incredible work, and it was published in my book, The Kindness Handbook. whether you care for a young child, an aging parent, a rambunctious teenager, a client at work who feels helpless, any skillful relationship of caregiving relies on balance—the bal- ance between opening one’s heart endlessly and accepting the limits of what one can do. The balance between compassion and equanimity. compassion is the trembling or the quivering of the heart in response to suffering. equanimity is a spacious stillness that can accept things as they are. The balance of compassion and equanimity allows us to care, and yet not get overwhelmed and unable to cope because of that caring. The phrases we use reflect this balance. choose one or two phrases that are personally meaningful to you. There are IT TakeS TIMe and effort to develop immeasurable loving- kindness. at times we have enthusiasm for it, but at other times we feel indifferent or just lazy and think, why bother? Sometimes we may wonder why we should cultivate love for people we don’t know or who have negative attitudes and harm others. Some might even question the whole idea of cultivating love, thinking that it should arise all by itself. These obstacles are easily cut through if we simply contem- plate the benefits of practicing loving-kindness. when we see the benefits of growing flowers and vegetables in our garden, we are enthusiastic to do so. Similarly, by seeing the benefits of cultivating loving-kindness, we want to put our energy into it. This meditation involves visualizing Maitreya, the buddha who embodies the quality of loving-kindness (his name derives from the Sanskrit word for loving-kindness, maitri). In prepa- ration, sit in a comfortable position, with your back straight, and take a few minutes to relax your body and mind. let your eyes close gently, and let your body become relaxed, light and free from tension. let your breath flow in and out in a natural rhythm. relax your mind by letting go of thoughts—thoughts of the past or the future, thoughts of your work, other places, or people. let these thoughts drift out of your awareness, and decide to keep your mind in the present, focused on the medi- tation, without being distracted by anything else or wandering aimlessly away. Generate a positive motivation for doing this meditation. for example, you can think that you are doing the meditation Visualizing Love By Kathleen McDonald Any skillful relationship of caregiving relies on the balance between opening one’s heart endlessly and accepting the limits of what one can do. —Sharon Salzberg (BoTTom)LizamaTTheWs,(tOp)TimLoWLy