Stefan Ravalli continues his series, Tweaking Our Compassion Computer, with Part II: Practice.
To cultivate our ability to connect to the other, one way of doing this would be to leap immediately to what is outside of us, which can be a powerful process of vaulting out of our petty preoccupations and into a greater whole. Call this an outside-in approach, which a great practice that can help provide perspective, and weaken whatever blockages we’ve been imprisoning ourselves with. However, too much outwardness can leave the necessary inner healing unattended to.
It is too easy to allow our egos to hijack acts of selflessness and twist them into self-sacrificing martyrdom, but compassion involves the relationship of two or more parties, and one of those two is still yourself. And since compassion is about universality, how can you express universality if you are not connected to your own universal nature? If there are obstacles to compassion, then we must return the focus to an inward place. We may find that we need to nourish ourselves and make us a better vessel for the other, because awareness of our universality is easily kinked by psychophysiological baggage. Sometimes, deep in our being we want to be compassionate, but the physical self does not have the capacity, and the heart closes against our better judgment. So our meditation will be inside-out in direction. Because to have a good compassion computer you need to be unblocked in disposition.
The “inner healing” phase of the meditation consists of an Ayurvedic healing visualization adapted from Deepak Chopra’s Perfect Health that engages the physical heart and circulatory system. The “unbounded love” phase is adapted from the Ramayana, beginning with the awareness on the energetic heart and expanding then to the universal heart and its boundless connection to all things, broadening our perspective to the whole totality of life. Because understanding is not about knowledge of someone as some sort of sovereign entity – no one’s behavior exists in a vacuum. It is part of a whole. And if we expand to include the whole of existence, then we can see someone as an essential member of a continuum, and respond lovingly, with gratitude for their role in the totality.
The agent of this heart meditation will be our minds. Our minds will trigger the necessary processes, engaging the heart-mind connection and melding the two. We will initiate this through visualization. However I hesitate to call it that since meditation is always about so much more than the visual. Success in meditation is not measured by how well you capture an image of something. It is not helpful to worry about failing to render the shorelines of Norway with all the detail and nuance of Google Earth. The goal of Visualization is not to transport yourself somewhere, but to trigger a conscious event through the power of intention. The sensory experience of a meditation is never the measure of success. Simply the intention on its own provides enough juice for all those harmonizing psychophysiological processes to fully unfold. Profound changes will occur beyond what you can immediately see or experience. This is true for all forms of meditation. So when meditating in any fashion, the golden rule is to just trust in your own abilities that will spontaneously emerge without you even trying.
Cosmic Compassion Meditation
- Sit comfortably in a cross-legged position with your hands lying open on the knees in a receiving position; you can use back support if this reduces discomfort.
- Close your eyes and sit quietly, letting your mind rest in as quiet of a state as it wishes to. Do not try and quiet your mind.
- Take three deep breaths, inhaling deep into the body, and visualizing exhalation coming out through the heart.
- Settle your awareness into the body, relaxing eyes, jaw, face muscles, and stomach.
- Become aware of the sensations of the body breathing – no need to focus, just be aware of this natural rhythm of breath giving life to your body; The body breathes by itself
- Feel gratitude that this life process of breathing is taken care of for us; And all necessary healing will unfold as the body finds the need.
- Bring your attention to your heart – acknowledge all the things for which you feel gratitude; Have the intention to let go of all grievances.
- Attention: create a vision of yourself liberated: no thoughts, no fears, no ego, no body, no limitations; this is you authentic, universal self. To this universal self silently, internally repeat to it like a mantra: “express your will through me”
- Attention: your internal dialogue; Intention: quieting internal dialogue.
- Attention: breathing; intention: slowing breathing.
- Attention: heartbeat; intention: slowing heartbeat.
- Attention: hands, feel your throbbing heartbeat; Intention: increase blood flow and temperature of hands.
- Attention: eyes, feel your throbbing heartbeat; Intention: increase blood flow and temperature to eyes.
- Attention: face, feel your throbbing heartbeat; Intention: increase blood flow and temperature to your face, relaxing it.
- Let your awareness move free through you body; pulling the warmth and energy of your heart anywhere it wants to go – anywhere that needs healing. Do this for several minutes.
- With your awareness on your nourishing heart energy, silently repeat to yourself this intention, like a mantra: “healing and transformation”
- Bring your attention back to your heart, with no intention
- Feel the pulse of the heart. Feel it electrically – not like a shock, but like a field. Like a sun, pulsing and flaring.
- Expand the heart throughout the body.
- Feel gratitude for this body – let this body sit in an ocean of your gratitude, your heart melting away any residual pain, imbalances, anything stored deeply, blocking you from being the open compassionate being you can be.
- Let your heart expand a few inches beyond you.
- Let it expand to the person next to you – feel their pulse; feel gratitude that they could be the conscious mirror to your own consciousness.
- Let it expand to fill the room – feel the pulse of the room, filled with the varied beautiful expressions of nature’s intelligence.
- Let it fill the building.
- Let it fill the neighborhood.
- Let it fill the city.
- Let it fill the state.
- Let it fill the continent.
- Let it fill each adjacent continents, moving south and then West until they have all been attended to.
- Let it expand to fill the earth.
- Let it expand to all the people – feel the collective pulse of humanity. Feel their heartbeat, beating with the earth’s, just as yours is.
- Let it expand all the sentient animals and plants, the pulse of one biosphere, unified and harmonious. Feel their heartbeat, beating with the earth’s, just as yours is.
- Let it expand to hold all the anger, sadness, and suffering of the earth, all the potential threats to yourself and your ego; this field of heart energy is too powerful to even be blemished by any so-called negativity
- Let it expand to surround the whole earth – feel the heartbeat of the earth; feel its electromagnetic field expanding outwards from two poles, just like the field of our heart. Feel how familiar this pulsation is. This is what we feel when we feel compassion: familiarity.
- Let it expand to the whole solar system.
- Let it expand to the whole galaxy.
- Let it expand to the myriad galaxies and celestial bodies of this universe.
- And to the whole universe – and infinitely outward as is your true nature. Hold that universe in your radiating heart.
- You’re now in your body, in your heart, beating with the pulse of the whole universe.