“Always first draw fresh breath after outbursts of vanity and complacency.”
The Power of the Four Immeasurables
As we head into the final weeks of the year, and reflect on all the highlights and lowlights of 2013, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Many of us will be hosting family; some of us will be visiting family; others will spend this time in hermit-like self-reflection. And for many of us, we will immerse into a blend of all possibilities.
This time of year brings lots of comparison and judgment as we look around at everything that’s happened and didn’t, things we have and don’t have, all the people in our life, and all the circumstances that have unfolded over the past 12 months.
As we spend time with friends and family, we may find ourselves asking, “What happened to me this year?” “Where is my life going?” “Why do I feel this way?”
If we are in an abundant space, then we are in celebration and sharing mode. If we are in a constricted space, we may be feeling waves of sadness, turbulence, or overwhelm. It’s important to feel, to honor those emotions, and to recognize that somewhere we have moved out of balance. But, we can make a subtle shift and still honor how we feel. And in time, we come back into balance and move to a more abundant, whole, and heart-based expression of who we are.
One of the most powerful shifting tools in my life is the cultivation of bodhicitta – pronounced bo-dee chit-tah, a Sanskrit word, which literally means awakening that which is conscious. In Buddhist thought, bodhicitta is defined as a heart-based state, essentially having a mind that strives toward awakening and compassion for the benefit of all sentient beings.
Among the many methods of cultivating Bodhicitta in our life is contemplation on an ancient Buddhist teaching known as the Four Immeasurables, or in Sanskrit, the Brahmaviharas – (pronounced brah-mah vee-har-ahs) and according to the Buddha, cultivation of the Four Immeasurables has the power to cause the practitioner to be shifted into a Brahma realm – or a divine state.
The Four Immeasurables are:
• Immeasurable Loving-Kindness or benevolence
• Immeasurable Compassion or rooting for another’s suffering to end
• Immeasurable Joy in the good fortune of others
• Immeasurable Equanimity or mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper especially in a difficult situation.
We can cultivate our bodhicitta each day by weaving the Immeasurables into the fabric of our BEing. Right before our morning meditation, spend two minutes (30 seconds on each Immeasurable) making them personal.
Start out by closing your eyes, taking a long slow deep breath in, effortlessly release it; and then drift your attention to one person who could benefit from your benevolence – see them in your minds eye, and radiate it out to them; then drift your attention to one person who could benefit from your from your compassion – see them in your mind’s eye and radiate it out to them; then drift your attention to your heart and feel the joy at the good fortune of a friend or relative…stay in that space and let it settle in. And then begin your meditation practice – daily meditation will awaken your equanimity.
Don’t keep the Four Immeasurables a secret. Share them with everyone you know this holiday season. And before you begin your holiday meal, the sweet collective you’ve assembled can open their hearts and radiate the Four Immeasurables out to everyone they know. Remember…we transform the world by transforming ourselves. So let’s begin our bodhicitta transformation right now and don’t forget to join me on LIVE! from the SweetSpot on Hay House Radio!
Blessings and peace. See you in the gap!! –davidji
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