In this 12-minute episode, celebrated Buddhist mindfulness teacher Jack Kornfield offers up a lovingkindness meditation from Omega's 2013 Neuroscience of Well-being, Mindfulness & Love Workshop in New York City.
This episode is part of Season 2 of Omega's award-winning podcast, Dropping In. This season, we're bringing you teachings from our treasure trove of audio archives.
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Cali Alpert: Welcome to Dropping In from Omega Institute. I'm Cali Alpert. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Rhinebeck, New York, campus is temporarily closed, but we're still here for you. Now, instead of dropping in on campus in real time, we're dropping in to our treasure trove of audio archives to offer you talks, teachings, and practices from some of Omega's most memorable workshops and conferences. In this 12-minute episode, Jack Kornfield offers up a lovingkindness meditation from Omega's 2013 Neuroscience of Well-being, Mindfulness, and Love Workshop in New York City. So put some time aside for yourself, get comfortable, make sure you're not behind the wheel, and drop in.
Jack Kornfield: And so this is the training, the beginning training, beginning. The Zen master, Suzuki Roshi says, "The goal of meditation practice is to always keep your beginner's mind." And my dear friend, Sharon Salzberg, who is a friend of both of ours, colleague, who lives and teaches in New York, she was in India. She'd been practicing for a few years, doing these very arduous and wonderful meditation training, when she got a copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, it was in the seventies, her first copy. And she looked at it and she said she sort of tossed it aside, "Oh, this is for beginners." Only later, did she look and see it said, "The goal, the end of practice is to keep one's beginner's mind." So exactly where you are is the place of awakening. Let yourself find a way to sit, with your feet flat on the floor, upright, with some sense of dignity, but also gracious.
Jack Kornfield: Meditation is not a grim duty. You go to the gym, you do your therapy. You work out, you diet, and now, "I've got to do meditation." The point is not to make meditation another grim duty. You have enough of that in your life. It's an invitation to presence into a kind of deep love. And it doesn't matter, actually, what experience you have. Those are just experiences, praise and blame, and pleasure and pain. Sometimes the body will be tight. Sometimes soft. Sometimes the mind will be contracted, sometimes expansive. With loving awareness, you say, "Oh yes. This is the space to bow to, to notice what's happening. Whether it's in the city of Najaf, in that story, or in the mansion of your own experience.
Jack Kornfield: So let your eyes close, gently. You take your seat halfway between heaven and earth in this mysterious human incarnation. And feel yourself seated here first and notice, without any judgment or agenda, the state of body and mind, heart. Bringing a loving awareness. You are the loving awareness that's noticing this. Moments, life experience.
Jack Kornfield: If it's helpful, you can release any obvious tightness or tension in the body, soften the eyes and face, loosen the jaw, let the shoulders relax, and the arms and hands rest easily. Let the belly be soft and the breath natural. And let the heart be soft as well, to receive whatever arises with a spirit of compassion, kindness.
Jack Kornfield: And now with this embodied presence, begin to notice the fact of the body's breathing, the life breath. And feel it as coolness in the nostrils, swirling, tingling in the back of the throat. Lower the rise and fall of chest or belly. And relax with the breathing. Let the body breathe its own natural rhythm. And by sensing the breathing, you bring the body and heart and mind together, just here, in the rhythm of life. Sense it. And if it's at all difficult to feel the breath, put one hand on your belly and feel the rise and fall of your belly in the palm of your hand. Just leave it there.
Jack Kornfield: And after a few breaths, one of the background waves will arise and pull your attention from the breath. When you notice a strong wave, come, sadness, longing, love, planning, remembering, tension, pain, whatever pulls you from the breath, instead of struggling against it, let go of the awareness of breath, and receive this new wave of experience, as if with a bow, with respect. And name it gently, planning, planning, or worry, worry, or excitement, excitement, or sad, sad. And feel the whole wave of energy as it moves through the body and mind, as you name it gently. And then when it passes, or you feel at ease with it, let it go. Rest in the space of loving awareness and feel the breath. Again for a time, let the small waves be in the background, rising and falling like waves of the ocean around the breath. Be with the breathing, (silence) until another strong wave calls your attention.
Jack Kornfield: This breath, relax and feel it breathe itself. With each breath, a calming and settling, a loving awareness.
Jack Kornfield: Or this moment's experience, this wave. Acknowledged gently, respectfully with a name, sad, sad, excited, excited. Just this moment.
Jack Kornfield: Relax with this breath. Present, loving awareness.
Cali Alpert: Thanks for dropping in with us. If you enjoyed today's episode, please check out our many online learning opportunities, featuring more of your favorite teachers and thought leaders. Visit the learn online section on eomega.org, for more information. Dropping In is made possible in part by the support of Omega members. Help Omega remain a source of hope and healing, and receive special content, invitations, and discounts designed to support Omega's engaged community of members. Visit eomega.org/membership today.