By Lori Lines
I often recommend, to my clients, a Mindfulness Meditation practice to strengthen their awareness of themselves, especially when they are concerned they cannot go under QHHT hypnosis easily. And, here's why:
The promises of a mindfulness meditation practice are well documented. From less stress, sleeping better and a lower incidence of a whole range of mental health conditions, mindfulness has been presented as a silver bullet that can make a difference to many of the problems in our modern lives.
But mindfulness is so much more than this. It’s so much more than a prescription, to be taken once or twice a day, to cure our ills. A mindfulness practice is a way of life that can utterly transform us, changing the way we see our minds, ourselves and the world around us.
And that’s where the real benefit comes in.
Mindfulness changes how you relate to the mind
Developing a mindfulness meditation practice can fundamentally change how you view the goings on inside your own mind.
In the first instance, mindfulness meditation makes you more aware of what is going on in your mind. It allows you to get a clear picture of how busy the mind really is. It helps you to see clearly the kinds of thoughts you are carrying with you.
It also allows you to get a clearer picture on your emotional life. How does the mind respond when something doesn’t go your way and a powerful emotion takes over? In what ways does the mind fuel these emotions? Regular mindfulness meditation brings clarity. It helps us to see the mind as it really is.
It also helps us to realise that our thoughts and emotions are here one moment and gone the next. As we pay attention to the mind, we realise that nothing is permanent. Everything changes. And so we can begin to hold less tightly to our thoughts and feelings in the moment.
It is only in seeing the mind as it really is that we can we begin to make positive changes to our inner world.
Mindfulness changes how you relate to yourself
All of this new information about how the mind works, and about your thoughts and emotional life, gives us a much deeper understanding of ourselves. It allows us to see more clearly what is going on in the mind and, with regular practice, it allows us to go deeper than the busyness of our thoughts, into a place of intuition and calm.
Many practitioners describe this experience of the mind using the analogy of the blue sky. Underneath the clouds, even on a cloudy day, the blue sky is always there. It's a bit like that with our thoughts. Some days there are less of them, and we can see the blue sky clearly. On other days the whole sky is dominated by clouds and we hardly even know that the blue sky is there at all.
A regular mindfulness meditation practice helps us to find acceptance. Acceptance that beneath our thoughts truly is a place of peace, a place of calm, and when we access this place we can live more intuitively and authentically. This doesn’t mean we chase the thoughts away. Instead we just wait for them pass, knowing that the blue sky is always there, right beneath the clouds.
For many people, this place within us, that exists beyond thought, is a deeply spiritual place. It is a place where we can access our truest self, our deepest wisdom about life and find guidance for the things in life that matter most. For some, this practice has allowed them to delve deeply into the imagination, accessing the multidimensional lives we live on other timelines.
Practicing mindfulness meditation, and carrying what you have learned in meditation out into your everyday life, allows you to live in a way that is more in tune with this deeper awareness, this true self. And this can be spiritually liberating for many.
Mindfulness changes how you relate to the world
A regular mindfulness practice also transforms the way in which we relate to the world. By drawing us into living life on a deeper and more intuitive level, we become less reactive.
Many mindfulness meditation practices begin with setting an intention for the practice and identifying who this practice will benefit beyond yourself. There are many ways in which those around us will benefit from our mindfulness practice. Those closest to us will benefit from the greater sense of calm that we experience as a result of regular mindfulness practice, but they also benefit from our greater ability to be present in the moment.
We live in a highly distracted age. There is always somewhere else to be or something else to do. Technology allows us to connect with anyone at any time. Our full attention, then, is one of the most precious things that we can give to anyone. Mindfulness practices helps us to strengthen the muscle of presence. It allows us to really be where we are and our relationships are often all the stronger for it.
Mindfulness practice can transform our relationship with the natural world. By being more present we begin to notice our surroundings so much more. And in noticing, we are much more likely to access our authenticity and experience feelings of genuine gratitude. Our gratitude for what we have, and the beauty of the world around us, can be a powerful driving force to protect our world and care for it.
When we regularly practice mindfulness, and become more in tune with that which matters most to us, we are more able to prioritize what really matters. We are able to work in the world for meaningful change, whether that is in the form of caring for others or caring for our beautiful planet.
We could easily enter into a mindfulness practice simply to gain the benefits that are so often talked about of an improvement to our wellbeing and mental health. And these are great goals to have.
But mindfulness practice offers us so much more. It offers us a way to connect deeply with ourselves and with the world. It gives us a simple way to begin to understand the inner workings of our mind and to access our intuition and wisdom.
From this place we can make intentional decisions about what matters most to us and how we spend our time and energy. We can live life in a wholly different way.
That is the true benefit of mindfulness.
In love and truth,
By Lori Lines
Over the last several decades, the age of technology has crept into our lives. With each decade, new advancements and discoveries have facilitated, accelerated, and, in many ways, encumbered our lives. Most people cannot say precisely when or how, but the media, technology, and artificial intelligence have become essential to daily functioning for many members of society. With that, issues with depression, anxiety, apathy, and spiritual, emotional, and mental imbalances have increased, lowering our vibrational frequency.
Yet, there is hope with the 3rd to 5th-dimensional ascension when we have the opportunity to lift our vibrations to resonate with the love, light, and harmony of "New Earth," or the 5D. However, the disconnection AI and the media fosters impairs our ability to achieve actual ascension. This disconnect leads many to numb the pain of the 3rd dimension, get lost in a state of learned helplessness, and resort to counterfeit forms of ascension that only temporarily elevate.
The time is now to break free from the disinformation, chaos, and despair the current fear-mongering, upheaval, and shallow experiences generate. We must empower ourselves, learn to honor our personal truths, follow our intuition, and realize and align with the harmonious vibration of the Divine that dwells within us, but how?
First, we must practice self-awareness. Without judging or projecting an emotional response, start asking yourself why. Why do you get up and turn the news on before you've nourished yourself? Why do you spend your free time exposing yourself to social media and the fear-provoking posts? Why do you lose yourself in your phone or tv to avoid sitting quietly with your thoughts?
By becoming aware of your motivations, what DRIVES you, you can gradually begin to change your behavior. This is how you will find the willpower to turn off the news and disconnect from social media. Allowing more time for you to connect with yourself as a spiritual being through meditation, journaling, or simply enjoying being one with nature.
We ARE nature unless we succumb to the noise of AI.
This is how you reencounter yourself as a being of energy and light, a spiritual being on a temporary human journey. This is not to say your body is inconsequential! Your physical vessel holds cellular memories of this life and the last. Your body is a temple to manifest the present and prepare for a more loving, aligned, divine future.
It is through honoring your physical body that you realign with the heartbeat of nature. There is a vitality and strength that comes from realizing that you are one with the rambling rivers, centuries-old trees, and the ever-changing seasons. By embracing this unity, you will reawaken to the divine universal interworking and the oneness and completion it represents.
Ultimately, we are meant to ascend the physical, but first, we must take a journey that celebrates our temporal vessels' preciousness and sanctity. For it is within that you will learn the divine resonance of empowerment, strength, self-assuredness, self-trust, and peace.
This is the meaning of true freedom, when you are liberated enough to think for yourself, act in accordance with your personal beliefs and highest values and pursue the path of ascension. As they say, freedom is not just doing what we want. It is doing what is right. Liberate yourself!
In love and truth,
To help get back into your body, check out my Body Scan Meditation by clicking here:
By Lori Lines
What an organ the brain is! All its wrinkles and folds, nuances and enigmas, powers and abilities, working in perfect alignment and synergy…until it doesn't! The brain can be separated into different lobes, functions, and systems. The primary distinction is that of the right and left brain. Sometimes referred to as brains, these two hemispheres are meant to work together, making up for what the other lacks. The left brain is responsible for logic, analytical thought, scientific and mathematical reasoning, and processing what we have been taught to believe is factual evidence.
The right brain processes holistic perceptions, creativity, imagination, art, music, and insightful reasoning. When the two hemispheres are balanced, together they give us a grounded perspective in which we can function in our day to day lives yet aspire, envision, and manifest a more fulfilling, high vibrational future.
Unfortunately, some people are out of balance, listening solely to their left brain. This can be referred to as literalism. Defined as "adherence to a meaning in an exact sense, or an exact representation or portrayal without idealization or inference." In simple terms, understanding and judging everything at "evidence or face value,"…but is it really evidential face value?
From an early age, based on our culture, society, and family values, we are all taught what to attend to, who to trust, how to perceive information, what is "fundamentally" true, and what is "fundamentally false." This is called social conditioning. Social conditioning is how we have been taught to function and think, somewhat like a default state for an electronic device.
When we rely solely on the left brain, or literalist perceptions, we limit ourselves, our consciousness, and our opportunities. We give our power away to social, religious, political constructs and people, we've idealized and over identified with, to determine what we see and how we see it. In this way, literalism is taking everything at face value or basing our perceptions on factual evidence. Instead, it conforms to what we have been socialized to believe is accurate, proven, and apparent.
Spoiler Alert: Knowledge, grounded in literalism, always comes to a stop. There's nowhere else to go to expand on ideas to grow! Repressing our natural tendency to question, to think beyond what appears to be physically present, and to grow as the spiritual beings that we are, stifles our true expression.
In my opinion, this has been the crux of a trickle down effect and why our generation suffers from systemic depression and that people, collectively, are suffering the Dark Night of the Soul.
All that we perceive and experience is transient, except for the experiences that change our soul. The soul or spirit is the entity that exists and bridges us from one life to the next. It never dies. We explore the universal consciousness through our soul, commune with the higher consciousness, and reach the higher dimensions. Locked within the soul is a template of our life path, all that came before and will come after. Alignment with this map or template is how we self-actualize, awaken, and achieve enlightenment through connection to the universe and Spiritual consciousness.
When we rely too heavily on the left brain's literalism, we tie ourselves too tightly to the physical realm's perceptions, experiences, and fleeting events. We lose touch with our higher selves, the universal unconscious, and the realm of the soul. Quickly we can become locked into the functioning of the day to day, observing the rules and regulations we have been conditioned to. A divide grows between who we are and who we are meant to be. We are not meant to follow, but to do the soul's work, honoring the template we come to this world with and the higher purpose we are destined to achieve.
As the division between who we are portraying and who we are meant to be, grows, life becomes challenging. We can lose our way, lose our sense of purpose, and life can lose all meaning. When we lose our "why," by habitually conforming to what we think we KNOW, we also lose our how and when.
There has never been a time where it is crucial for individuals to begin their self-actualizing, integrative process by whatever means is necessary than now.
Trusting the left brain too much can lead to not trusting ourselves at all! Our intuition and inner knowing repeatedly takes a backseat to what we have been conditioned to believe is right, even if it goes against what we want or what we feel. Like any other relationship, when we lose our own trust, it is difficult to regain it.
This state of feeling conflicted towards the answers "out there" and having the answers within withheld can render us powerless. This powerlessness can lead to depression, anxiety, and general apathy towards the very life we are living. If you have experienced this or are experiencing it, you understand how difficult a cycle it can be to break. Yet, nothing can change within your spirit or in your outer world until you do the spiritual work it takes to amplify and hear your inner truth again.
By bypassing social conditioning and the left brain's reasoning, the Quantum Healing Hypnosis Technique can access the part of yourself that can hear and feel your inner knowing again. QHHT can help you reconnect with answers that you have lost along the way regarding your everyday life and your spiritual calling. QHHT accesses the higher self and the collective unconscious through your spirit, your everlasting nature, and eternal awareness, rendering the confines of social conditioning and literalism powerless. In turn, returning your mental, spiritual and emotional balance and restoring your power!
I have spoken to many of you who are afraid of the QHHT process, those of you who know, on a deeper level, that you've clung to your literalism for far too long and believe you would not be successful at this practice. My answer to this is my Mindfulness Meditation and Awareness Series of coaching sessions that can help prepare you for a QHHT session. Practicing mindfulness to strengthen awareness naturally opens up the mind to balance and trust in your inner knowing rather than just accepting evidential proof, "out there" that may or may not be true.
When you can once again perceive the bigger picture, you will start to realize how "small" your physical existence truly is. Through connection to your higher self and your countless lifetimes, you can once again appreciate how infinite your options and opportunities are. You can begin to realize yourself and your exponential gifts and visualize unlimited new ways of living, and it takes trusting yourself to do so.
In love and truth,
By Lori Lines
In our present-day society, we are modern people. Lately, due to governmental mandates, many of us have had time to pause and reflect, whether we wanted to or not. We realize we have become very used to being stimulated regularly. Our minds are addicted to all kinds of buzz and frenzy.
Technology has only exacerbated this buzz as our minds hunger for more. When faced with the notion to be in the present moment, this may make many recoil in panic. In fact we expend a great deal of our money, our energy and our time doing our best to avoid boredom because, to some, this state of being commensurates death.
Seriously! Many of us can remember using phrases like "bored to death" and "bored stiff."
Consider the vast expanse of entertainment, amusements and diversions that we create and indulge in just to keep from feeling bored. And yet, the complaint of boredom still exists.
I once read a story where, ages ago, there was this Zen trainee who complained to his master that he didn't enjoy meditation because he found the practice of focusing on his breath to be boring. "Oh you don't find breathing interesting, huh?" Said the Zen master. "Well, come with me." The trainee followed the master outside stopping at a stream. At the edge of the water, the master told his trainee to gaze at his reflection in the water. As soon as the student bent over to look at his reflection, the Zen master thrust his head deep into the water and forcibly held it there as the poor student struggled not to drown. "Sooo," said the Zen master, "do you still find breathing boring?"
Most of us believe that our boredom is because of our outward circumstances. We think the situation we find ourselves in is simply not interesting. Those who practice presence, on the other hand, regard boredom as a product of inattention. We get bored, in other words, when we withdraw our full awareness to whatever we are experiencing at the moment.
Boredom is not caused by what we perceive as not happening, it is caused by our own mind. The cure for boredom is paying complete attention with focused awareness. Rather than paying attention, though, most of us are inclined to seek out more mental and physical stimulation to keep our minds occupied with trivial matters that just take up useless space in our heads.
The meditative practice of presence encourages us to let go of the craving for stimulation and simply be attentive to what is, in the present moment.
To digress a moment, I recall a time when I was new at practicing presence. My, then, 8 year old daughter came to me complaining, "I'm bored!" Instead of jumping into my usual response to engage her in something entertaining, I said to her, "Many brilliant ideas and works of art were created out of boredom." Then, I left it at that. Reluctantly, she decided to pull out her art supplies and, voila!, she created a masterpiece. A work of art I will treasure for the rest of my life.
When I asked her what she learned about herself when she was bored, her 8 year old self thoughtfully replied, "That I don't have to be bored when I'm bored." Indeed.
When we discipline our minds, we can take something that we perceive to be boring and make it into something that's profoundly interesting. Just as a submerged head can become fascinated with the breath, boredom, itself, can become interesting if we simply observe it without judgment.
When we can let go of our fear of being bored and direct our full attention to our breath, one might be amazed at what discoveries can be made. One might notice the pleasant sensation that relaxed breathing brings to our body. It may be very mild and barely perceptible, but it's there. When we can be wholly engaged with the simple pleasure of breathing, we find ourselves with a refined sense of completeness in that moment. All we need to know is the joy of the breath. In that moment, we know that simply breathing is enough and we want nothing else.
The benefits of practicing presence are immeasurable. When we learn how to be in a state of presence, we develop our intuition, we get to know who we really are, and we find focus in our lives, just to name a few.
I offer 1:1 sessions coaching clients on how to practice presence in their everyday lives. If this sounds like something you would like to do, just let me know and we can discuss it.
In love and truth,
For an appointment or for more information click here:
By Lori Lines
The mind can be construed as a double-edged sword. It is capable of providing us great benefit as well as great injury. Naturally, we want to cultivate our inner processes in such a way that we maximize or minds' capacity for doing good and to minimize its tendencies for causing pain and suffering.
It is important, in this juncture in our evolution, to nurture our minds in a way that will bring us greater joy. The mind tends to operate in a rather haphazard way, bounding from thought to thought with little or no apparent prompting of direction. Our minds seem to have a mind of their own. It might appear that our minds are thoroughly out of our control as if we have no choice of the kinds of things that drift across our minds.
Although thoughts seem to come out of the blue, they are, in fact, conditioned
by previous patterns of thought. The thoughts that our mind produces now have been shaped by its history of thinking. This history can connect all the way back to previous lives we have lived as well as our current life history of thinking.
Neuro-scientific research has shown that routine patterns of thought make incremental but substantial changes in the way the brain is structured and the way the mind functions. These alterations make the brain more effective at doing what it is asked to do. If we habitually think in certain ways, then our minds become more adept at these patterns of thought. Patterns of thought becomes belief. Beliefs manifest patterns of behavior and circumstances that can benefit us or injure us.
Thus, as the concept of conditioning suggests, positive or wholesome thoughts create a propensity for more positive or wholesome thoughts. Fortunately, we can use this dynamic principle to our advantage. While we may not be in conscious control of each and every thought, a meditation practice can show us that we can choose which thoughts to entertain and to develop and which to observe and release. In this manner, we can influence the kinds of thoughts we are more likely to produce in the future.
Knowing this, we can use our power to select and foster or relinquish thoughts that can help us to cultivate a skillful and clear mind that serves us well.
I invite you to become aware and observe your thoughts as they arise, but also identify the kinds of thoughts you are having. Once identified, we can make conscious choices about how we will handle them.
What can occur in a QHHT session or in a Mindfulness Coaching session is when one begins to wake up to the types of thoughts they habituate, one comes to an understanding of how these habitual thoughts have manifested problematic patterns in one's life. And, with this self-knowledge, one can begin to shift and change the trajectory of ones life altogether.
In love and truth,
By Lori Lines
A few years back I made a correlation. I had been doing a little research on the subject of Karma and, when traveling through my own Dark Night of the Soul, I kept receiving spiritual messages about the importance of practicing mindfulness. As the Age of Light ushers in (for most of us we are already there), we need to be aware, more than ever before, of those thoughts and actions that take place within and without because those thoughts and actions (intentional or not) are creating our reality at an accelerated rate. I have received the information that with the Age of Light, one can expect "instant karma." And, with instant karma, we are simultaneously waking up, becoming more and more sensitive to the energies swirling around us. We are awakening to the truth on many levels of our existence. And, with that said, our emotional highs are higher than ever as well as our emotional lows are lower than ever. Where once there was just one big dark night of the soul for a person, and karma coming around over many years or lifetimes, we are now having more dark night of the soul periods, where karma is experienced anywhere from immediately to just a few years.
So, I asked my Higher Self, that in this Age of Instant Karma and Age of Light, how do we mitigate our thoughts (intentional and unintentional) and still be able to take full accountability for those thoughts? This is what I understand: There is much work to do to harness our thoughts in the first place so that unintentional thoughts are less common and there are practices that can be used to mitigate, move, or make up for those thoughts so there is not an unintentional consequence. One thing the Guides want to make clear is that instant karma is not a trick and the Age of Light does not make everyone perfect. So, do not worry that you may be tricked or put in a precarious position by moving through enlightenment.
We are constantly understood and forgiven and it's imperative to do this for ourselves. What is more important to understand is that the patterns in our thoughts and the accrual of the patterns is what builds up the energy of Karma. For example, if you think violent thoughts every time you are driving, even if none of those thoughts are intended but becomes a habit, then you will start acquiring Karma around that.
Therefore, it is so important for you to get to know yourself so well that your habits are known to you and your habits are decided by you. it is up to you to notice the thought patterns that you have and then, if you want to, make a decision of how to let those go and then begin a practice of letting them go - whether it's through meditation or listening to loving music, or saying something kind out loud. There are millions of ways to practice letting habitual thoughts go.
The way you choose to let go of habitual thoughts that create negative karma is and will be very necessary as you move into this enlightenment.
Also, things you have been denying in your life create a thought pattern that accrues Karma. So, the better you know yourself, the better you are going to be at navigating yourself through enlightenment.
How to do this? By practicing mindfulness to strengthen your awareness.
Mindfulness meditation practice is intended to assist us in not controlling our karma but to demystify it by going within, strengthening our intuition, so that we can be intentionally more co-creative in our experience rather than just being an innocent bystander or "victim" in our lives. Therefore, our lives will be lived more efficiently in the evolution of our souls...moving us into light and happiness more quickly.
If you are interested in hearing more on my teaching/mentoring program on mindfulness, please contact me for more information.
I remember very little when I was a child but one thing, intuitively, stuck out for me at a very young age when I heard Robert Kennedy eulogize his brother as a "good and decent man who saw wrong and tried to right it, who saw suffering and tried to heal it, who saw war and tried to stop it." At a very tender age, these words were deeply moving as I watched the funeral on television.
It was not until many years later that I recognized, in those unforgettable words, the precise description of the essence of compassion.
Compassion is the desire to alleviate suffering and it entails the courage to face it, the wisdom to gaze deeply into it, and the resolve to respond to it in a way that brings relief. Compassion is not merely a feeling. More than just sentiment, it is born of a brave consciousness and a strong will. It may arise as a tenderness of the heart, but it requires the support of a tough mind. It is not pity, although the two are sometimes confused.
Pity is simply feeling sorry for someone. It is feeling bad because someone has to endure suffering. But pity keeps its distance from suffering. Pity often sounds like this, "so sorry things are not going well for you, and thank goodness it's not me." Pity can't get past the element of fear. It's really afraid of pain and suffering. It wants to flee from their presence, fast.
Compassion doesn't keep its distance. Compassion literally means "to experience or to endure with." It is unafraid and willing to be with the suffering. To gaze into it. Up close and personal. The compassionate person can do this because it has learned to accept rather than to resist suffering.
People going through hard times can usually tell if they are being treated with pity or compassion. When my mother was in the hospital, dying from cancer, I was often sitting with her as she received visitors. I could tell when guests were uncomfortable seeing my mom, their friend, their loved one in bed. And, I'm sure this did not pass unnoticed by my mother, when she was lucid, because she could read others like a book. Ill-at-ease visitors usually felt compelled to talk, often, about anything other than her illness. If her sickness was brought up, some visitors often spoke hollow words assuring my mother that everything was going to be alright. The uneasy guest occasionally looked at his or her watch during the conversation and sometimes took the first opportunity to depart. And, of course, we all have that one or two family members who avert compassion and "enduring with" by making the whole situation all about themselves. These visitors were not uncaring, they merely found it hard to be in the presence of someone suffering.
On the other hand, those who seemed, to me, to bear the face of compassion did not appear eager to direct the conversation away from my mother's pain and anguish. Yet, they may not have had much to say about it. Words are sometimes used to hide our discomfort and suffering. Sometimes we just don't know what to say, but it's better to be quiet than to utter vacuous words.
The compassionate person does not flee from pain or silence. In many cases, the person who seemed to bring the greatest relief to my mother was one who was willing to stay by her side and listen when necessary. Even without words, one can bring comfort to another by merely being physically present, maybe holding their hand, and being mindfully attentive.
Such gestures can strengthen others by conveying it is possible neither to resist nor to run away from suffering.
Compassion is not something we have to learn. It is what we are. The capacity for compassion is in our deepest natures as human beings. To be sure, some of us manifest the face of compassion more plainly than others. For me, the clearest and most common expression of compassion can be seen as the mother's love for her child. As a recipient of that love as a child, I wasn't always appreciative of my own mother's attention and selflessness. Having usually had them it was always difficult for me to think of life without them, or even imagine what great care was expressed at times. But, I came to understand maternal love more clearly when I had my own child and lost my own mother during the same year. Having my daughter, I've been able to experience, up close, the power of that bond. Amazement is not too strong a word for my reaction.
I am certainly not the only one to consider motherhood as the prime exemplar of compassion. Please don't think I'm romanticizing motherhood in this example. I'm fully aware, me being one, that mother's don't always exhibit compassionate natures. I'm also aware that fathers can be as compassionate as mothers, although, social construction of modern masculinity makes the expression of compassion more difficult for males.
When we fail to act in a compassionate way, as we often do, we've either been conditioned to avert suffering or we have suppressed the desire to relieve it. Our frequent failure to be compassionate does not mean that compassion is not a basic part of who we are. It simply means that our fundamental nature has been obscured and needs to be gently revealed.
Much in our culture works to separate us from our compassion and, hence, alienate one another and from ourselves. Our love of competition, our fear of pain and suffering, our quest for pleasure and our endless forms of distraction all function to enshroud compassion. But, if we continue with a daily meditation practice and if we practice presence in everything we do then we can subtly counteract those aspects of our culture.
Being able to see suffering is the pre-requisite to deeper compassion. For anyone with a television or access to the internet it's easy to see the overt manifestations of suffering. But perceiving the deeper expressions of suffering isn't easy and requires the skills of attentiveness that the practice of presence sharpens. Seeing the subtle and extensive nature of suffering permits us to be more adept at identifying it and becoming more familiar with it.
That familiarity, in turn, helps us accept it as a present moment experience which we need not run from nor resist. Compassion requires the willingness to look at suffering, tragedy, and pain without aversion or attachment.
Recognizing the subtle nature of suffering also enables us to see how its clearly evident manifestations, like war and conflict, are interrelated with its less apparent forms such as greed, fear, and disappointment. Common to all experiences of suffering, are self-centered desires that often outstrip the capacity for reality to satisfy them. Insight into the conditions that give rise to suffering is necessary to being able to respond to the suffering constructively.
Recognizing suffering in our own experience is critical to seeing it in the lives of others. Unless I understand the nature of my own suffering I can do little to help you with yours. Paradoxically, then I can take my own conditioned tendency to focus on me and use it to turn outward to others in compassion. As we practice compassionate presence, we begin to see this is hardly a paradox at all. As we come to understand there is not my suffering and your suffering - there is only suffering.
Being compassionate toward others is based on empathy. This is when we put ourselves in the place of others. Knowing that I want to be happy and free from suffering, I can infer that other beings want this as well. Knowing that about others, I ought to treat them accordingly.
The first step in being compassionate toward others thus involves imaginatively involving into the interiority of another person sharing his or her inner life, in a profound way, by recognizing that they are like me. This basic empathetic principle is hardly a revelation to any of us. The world's religions and philosophies almost uniformly endorse this precept and make it the cornerstone of their ethics. It's the basis of what we in the west call the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
Despite its ubiquity most of us find it difficult to remember to be empathetic which may be a clue why the principle is so repeatedly articulated in religious traditions. I don't think it's necessarily because empathy is particularly hard for us, sometimes it arises in us spontaneously, perhaps moe than we ordinarily recognize...unless we are practicing presence. But, just as often, we neglect to practice empathy because the illusion of self gets in the way. In other words, my conditioned tendency to regard the Universe as revolving around me makes it easy to forget that the rest of you thinks that the Universe revolves around you.
When I am absorbed, seeking my own happiness by the usual frantic and misguided methods, I'm too preoccupied to appreciate that you're seeking the same freedom from suffering that I am.
Throughout my life I've had occasion to be sitting in hospital waiting rooms and to observe families of patients who were in intensive care units as family members anticipated word on their loved one's condition. As the patient lay in critical condition, quartered away elsewhere in the ICU, anxious relatives waited in uncertainty, never knowing if the doctor would be walking through the door with news of improvement or decline. Or, perhaps even death. The days could be long and waiting often seemed endless. Yet, although they can be grim places to visit, I sometimes saw things in these waiting rooms that inspired me immensely.
These were the times, and they were not rare, when I observed how the medical crisis would draw family members and loved ones closer to one another. In the space created by grave situations that they shared, members of a family seem to become more sensitive and kinder to one another - offering to get a cup of coffee for one, recommending another go home for some much needed rest, speaking in soft and gentle tones to one another. I even witnessed how two or three different family members, all total strangers, but united by trying circumstances, suddenly overcame any awkwardness to talk and commiserate with one another. I can well-imagine that in other circumstances these individuals will have remained within the safe confines of their own family, without reaching beyond it. Sometimes, families of course, stayed isolated from one another. But, just as often, their common lot, freed them to cross the imaginary barriers separating them. I often saw solidarity emerge between different families as members of one would share the joy or good news received by another. Or, share the grief when the news was unwelcome.
While observing this outpouring of compassion and kindness in the hospital waiting room was encouraging for me, I was also a bit saddened that it required such a liminal experience to bring it out. Why couldn't we be this way all the time - caring for one another as if we were always in the waiting room of the hospital? After all, life isn't that much different from such places. We are all subject to sickness and death, we are all liable to receive bad news about a loved one at any time. We all spend a great deal of time in uncertainty.
Fortunately, there are ways to encourage a deeper empathy with others even when our circumstances are less dire than in the hospital. When you're not feeling particularly empathetic with some of your fellow human beings, here's a simple practice to remind you of the common humanity we all share beneath the labels and identifications that divide us. Any time you find yourself annoyed or alienated from someone, recite these words, "just like me."
Here's an example: Let's say you are at the airport. Which, by the way, is one of the greatest places on earth to practice mindfulness. Where else do you have such wonderful opportunities to experience the subtle manifestations of suffering? To practice patience, anger management? To observe other people and even meditate? If you are seeking an ideal place for testing your progress on the mindfulness path, there is no better place than an airport. The bigger and busier the better! Thank your lucky stars when your flight has been delayed or even cancelled. Now you have an unrivaled opportunity to attend to what's really important in life.
So, you find yourself waiting in one of these several airport queues you have to go through to get to where you are going. Just ahead of you, as you are rushing to get through security, is a bumbling passenger who has no clue how to negotiate this procedure quickly. You know the one...the man or woman who forgets to empty their pockets and sets off the scanner. The one who leisurely removes his shoes and belt, completely oblivious that others have planes to catch in the next ten minutes. Or, consider the passenger behind you who's in such a hurry, she's practically pushing you and your stuff out of the way, cursing under her breath. Need I say more? Now is the time to practice your skills of empathy. As you watch the bumbling passenger, you say to yourself, "just like me." Here's a person who forgot to pack travel-sized containers and you can say, "I could've done that." How many times have you been in such a hurry that you've forgotten things while packing? Or the fella who forgets to empty his pockets? You can say, "just like me."
It is easy to get frustrated going through stressful queues that you can understand how someone could overlook that step. And the guy who takes his time with his shoes and belt, "just like me." Perhaps he suffers from such physical pain that he can't move any faster. You can say, "I too, have struggled with debilitating pain."
And the pushy woman behind you? "Just like me." Perhaps she is late for a flight and eager to get home to her sick child. I've been late for flights, and I know I'd be in a rush if my sick daughter were waiting for me. Ok, true you don't know if the pushy lady actually has a sick child waiting for her at home, or if the slow fella has arthritis, maybe. Maybe not. You don't know.
What you do know is that they are seeking happiness just like you. And, probably doing so in the same misguided ways as you. And, by the way, each of these examples I've cited come from my own experiences. Not only have I been personally annoyed by the pushy woman and the bumbling man, I have actually been the pushy woman and the bumbling man, becoming nuisance to someone else.
The "just like me" can be practiced anywhere. It can be practiced when you are watching the news on TV, taking a moment to ponder why others behave the way they do, trying to imagine how you would react to such a situation. Reflecting on ways we share a common humanity. It can be practice when you drive, wait in line at the grocery store, or endure poor restaurant service.
This tool is extremely effective for establishing empathy with others. Particularly those we find difficult to like. Empathy and compassion do not require that we feel affection for one another. We can have compassion for our worst enemies. Ultimately, the full pursuit of compassion practice requires that we cultivate empathy for some very tough characters, including those who we know to be perpetrators of horrendous violence or abuse. Compassion cannot be selective. For most of us, the skill to be compassionate of such persons comes at the end of a very long road. For now, though, let us try to work with the easier cases and gradually progress to the harder ones.
There is, however, one very tough character that you will have to work with before you can go away further with this practice. Yourself. For some of us, it may be harder to muster compassion for ourselves than others. And, there is a saying attributed to the Buddha, "you can search throughout the entire Universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and compassion than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anyone, deserve your love and compassion."
Author Lori Lines
Disclaimer: Lori is a high-level channel. The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.