Community Drop In Group 6/24/20
I recently heard a very helpful teaching. I’ve been doing a wonderful online course from
tricycle.org with Christina Feldman and Chris Cullen called Universal Empathy. I love having
the structure of the course to follow over the week, and even more, I love their way of looking at
the Brahma Viharas, a root teaching of Buddhist psychology on the foundational qualities of
lovingkindness, joy, compassion and equanimity.
I will likely make this into a series of talks, but for today I just want to hone in on one teaching
of theirs that I find particularly useful.
When practicing with the heart qualities, it’s not the feeling that matters most, but rather the
Kindness, compassion, gratitude— these are all qualities that can be challenging at times for us.
If we are feeling stressed, anxious, depressed or even just a bit hyper, or down, and then someone
tells us to open to kindness, compassion or gratitude, these qualities are likely to not feel
immediately accessible. And when we can’t generate these feelings on demand, then we likely to
add a layer of self-judgement or blame for “what’s wrong with me that I can’t feel kind or
This was certainly my experience early in the practice. Teachers would guide a beautiful
lovingkindness meditation, and I’d try to connect but just couldn’t generate any of the warm,
soft, ease I thought I was suppose to be feeling. So these practices ended up leaving me feeling
more cold and alienated at first instead of connected to resources of strong heart. It actually took
me years to muddle my way into a lovingkindness practice that I could connect to. If I had had
this teaching earlier, this would have been much easier...
Just taking the time to meditate is at its essence an act of self care. Therefore it is a kind or
compassionate act by definition. Therefore, because it is the intention that matters most, not the
feeling, just by doing the practice, we are already in the field of the strong heart. The important
piece is not a warm, soft, ease generated on demand, but rather waking up an awareness that our
intention to meditate, however it unfolds, is putting us in the direction of the strong heart.
Feldman calls this inclining the heart towards care. Knowing that we are inclining in this
direction is enough
So our practice becomes much more about strengthening our awareness of intention in the
direction of care than about generating a feeling tone we think we should have. Ironically just by
doing this, the feeling tone is much more likely to open on its own, but we always know that it is
okay if it doesn’t.