Displaying 46 - 49 of 49 entries.

How Mindfulness Meditation Can Help Us Forgive Ourselves

  • Posted on April 11, 2012 at 12:01 pm

We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. Some of us have even done things we’re downright ashamed of. The feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse can be major obstacles to our spiritual development. The good news is that through the practice of mindfulness meditation, we can learn to forgive ourselves and to let go of the painful emotions associated with the memories of our unwholesome acts.

When I was a young man, I was so socially inept that I apologized in advance for any insensitive remark that I might make. In time, I realized that it was safer for me to just not talk and avoid the embarrassment. The problem with this approach was that I alienated myself from people, and as a result, I grew weak spiritually.

As you know, forgiving ourselves is not easy. Have you ever tried just telling yourself to forgive yourself for the things you’ve done? It doesn’t work too well, does it? That’s because forgiving ourselves takes a great deal of spiritual strength.

In my experience on the path to spiritual development, I’ve seen a direct correlation between how strong I am spiritually and how much I can forgive myself for my unwholesome behavior. That is because with a higher self-esteem, I can accept the fact that I am human, and therefore, fallible.

I am also now more mindful of my actions. I am much more aware of my thoughts and actions, and how they can bring either harmony or discord. I have found that by being kind and loving I bring greater harmony in my life, and in the lives of those around me.

Of course, most of this is the result of my meditation practice. Mindfulness meditation has enabled me to be at peace with myself, and with the people in my life, both past and present. I finally have the strength and courage to forgive myself. I can also forgive those who have harmed me.

I realize that some of us may have experienced more traumatic events that require professional help to overcome. Though meditation alone may not be enough, we still need the spiritual strength we get from mindfulness meditation to heal these wounds and be free of them.

It is a wonderful feeling to finally be free of all the guilt, shame and remorse from my past. And helping other people find the same freedom truly enriches my life and gives me the spiritual nourishment that keeps me growing.

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Learning How to Love Ourselves

  • Posted on April 3, 2012 at 10:07 pm

In last week’s post, we talked about some of the difficulties many of us have in loving ourselves. As one commenter noted, our actions often revolve around other people’s expectations. That is, we try to meet those expectations in order to gain their approval. This doesn’t leave much time for taking care of ourselves.

Those of us who have been on a spiritual path for any length of time know how much work is involved in changing our views, thoughts, and behavior. With some experience, we sometimes learn what works, and what doesn’t work. Unfortunately, by the time we learn what does indeed work, we’ve already put in a lot of time in effort.

In this post, I’m going to share with you a very powerful and effective exercise I recently discovered, which can change a lifetime of unwholesome habits in a just short period of time. That exercise is called writing meditation.

Now, this writing meditation is not the same as others you may have encountered. Most of the others revolve around some form of free-style writing of what is on your mind at the time. This writing meditation is nothing like that. In fact, it is much simpler.

In our writing meditation, all you do is copy by hand in a notebook the affirmations that were developed for a specific purpose. The loving-kindness meditation works extremely well for changing our attitudes about other people. Through the meditation, we become more loving and compassionate toward everyone we encounter, or have encountered in the past. The writing meditation has a wide range of benefits:

  • Heals the wounds from the past. As we become more loving and understanding, we’re able to forgive those who have harmed us, including ourselves.
  • Become more outgoing. Our new attitudes about other people will manifest themselves in our interactions with them. We become more sociable and outgoing.
  • Enhances our spiritual development. As we engage more people in a positive manner, we receive the spiritual nourishment we need to grow.
  • Helps us sleep better at night. When done before bed, the exercise will quickly calm down your mind after a hectic day of activities.
  • Learn to love ourselves. The writing meditation will transform our attitudes about ourselves. We’ll finally realize that we are just as deserving of our love as anyone else.

Probably the most amazing thing about this writing meditation is that you will realize these effects without any conscious effort. The only effort involved is in doing the writing meditation for 10 to 15 minutes a day.

The reason this writing works so well is because it literally imprints in your mind the ideals of unconditional love. I’ve found that writing it out by hand is much more effective than simply reciting or listening to the loving-kindness meditation.

Try the exercise for a few days, and share your results with us. You can download the loving-kindness writing meditation with instructions at:

Loving-kindness writing meditation

You’ll see for yourself that it only takes a few days before you start to see noticeable results. I’m sure it will help you learn to love yourself more, and others also.


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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.


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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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