Displaying 46 - 47 of 47 entries.

Why Do We Have Difficulty Loving Ourselves?

  • Posted on March 27, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Last night at our sangha (meditation group), the facilitator brought up the topic of loving ourselves. Sometimes, the topic doesn’t generate very much discussion, but this one sure did.

Several people shared about the difficulties they’ve had loving themselves, and why. Most of the comments revolved around our upbringing and how we were taught to always put other people before ourselves. Otherwise, we were labeled as being selfish and uncaring.

Though I’ve heard similar comments before, I could see that some people were deeply affected by the discussion. It reminded me of how much our society reinforces the notion of placing other people before ourselves. Though it is changing, there are still many people who grew up in a time when we were expected to put ourselves last on our list of priorities. Our families always came first. While this sentiment is noble, how can we take good care of other people if we are spiritually weak?

There is an old story about a man and his daughter. His wife had died years earlier, and the two of them performed an acrobatic act to make a living. The father one day said to his daughter, “We need to look out for each other while performing, so that we don’t make a mistake, get hurt, and jeopardize our livelihood.”

The daughter thought about the father’s comments, and in her wisdom she said to him, “Wouldn’t it be better if we each took good care of ourselves and made sure that we performed our act correctly? That way, we would be taking good care of both of us.”

We’ve all heard the adage; “We can’t love other people until we’re able to love ourselves.” Since most of the people I associate with are on a spiritual path, I see this sentiment in action every day. People who’ve neglected themselves their entire lives are beginning to take good care of themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I was fortunate to have begun a spiritual path at a young age, so I’ve made considerable progress toward loving myself. I know that by taking good care of myself, I can be of better service to others. Though I don’t forget that other people still struggle with loving themselves, I don’t always see how deeply they’re affected.

Whenever I see how deeply some people suffer from having difficulty loving themselves, it is a stark reminder of how important our work is here at the Mindfulness Meditation Institute. There is still a lot of suffering to overcome.

Four Reasons Why Beginners Have a Hard Time Learning How to Meditate Properly

  • Posted on March 21, 2012 at 12:56 am

In the beginning of my meditation practice, I had such a hard time learning how to meditate. Each time I asked someone how to do it, I got a different answer—and a vague one at that. Then I turned to meditation books—and they weren’t much help either because they didn’t give clear instructions. At first I thought it was just me, and I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I didn’t get it.

Years later when I finally figured out how to meditate, I realized that I wasn’t the only one having a hard time. Today, almost everyone I talk to about meditation has had the same experience. I’ve identified 4 main reasons why people have trouble learning how to meditate:

1) Few people truly understand meditation. It’s hard to find someone who truly understands how to meditate properly and can explain it clearly. Since I got a different answer each time I asked someone about meditation, it became obvious that none of them had a firm grasp of the practice.

2) Most books are confusing. To this day, I have not found a book that does a good job at explaining the actual meditation techniques. They usually overwhelm you with so much information that you end up more confused than before. Some books even use a lot of cryptic language that makes it even more confusing.

3) So many different forms. With so many different forms of meditation, it’s hard to tell which ones really work. Since they vary in their approach, so does their effectiveness. And since most books don’t explain them very well, it makes it even harder to tell the difference.

4) Trying all of them. When confronted with too many choices, we either try as many as we can, or none at all. Either way, we get nowhere. If we’re always trying different forms of meditation, we never become proficient in any one of them. It’s like trying to learn how to play a different musical instrument every week. You’ll never learn to play music that way, so why would you expect to learn how to meditate using the same approach?

It clearly makes more sense to choose a well-established form of meditation and practice it until you become proficient with it. Then you’ll have a basis for evaluating other forms.

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