Oakville Zen Meditation



In our Western culture, we find it difficult to direct loving-kindness and compassion to ourselves.                                       We may feel that we are unworthy, or that it is too egocentric or that self-discipline to fix flaws and mistakes is more important. Of course, good insight and fixing our problems are important, but it is not the point.                                                                                                                                                 So rather than starting loving-kindness practice with ourselves, which is traditional, I find it more helpful to start with those we most naturally love, and care about, then to move towards self.                                                                     One of the beautiful principles of compassion and loving-kindness practices is that we start where it works, where it’s easiest. We open our hearts in the most natural way, then direct our loving-kindness little by little to the areas where it’s more difficult than is self.                                                                                                                                                                                        

First, sit comfortably and at ease, with your eyes closed. Feel your body seated and your breath breathing naturally. Let your body-mind relax slowly.

Think of someone you care about and love a lot. Then let natural phrases of good wishes for them come into your mind and heart. Some of the traditional ones are, “May you be healthy, serene, safe” protected, and painless”.Then picture a second person you care about and express the same good wishes and intentions toward them.

Next, imagine that these two people whom you love are offering you their loving-kindness. Picture how they look at you with concern and love as they say, “May you too be healthy, serene, safe”, protected, and painless.

Third step: Now turn their good wishes toward yourself. Sometimes people place their hand on their heart or their body as they repeat the phrases: “May I be healthy, serene, safe, protected. And painless”

With the same care let your eyes open, look around the room, and offer your loving-kindness to everyone around you. Feel how great it is to spread the field of loving-kindness.

Finally: Now think of yourself as a beacon, spreading the light of loving-kindness like a lighthouse around your city, around the country, around the world, even to distant planets. 

Zen says that the awakened heart of loving-kindness, compassion, and freedom is our birthright as human beings. “The Buddha said this: If these things were not possible, I would not teach them. But because they are possible for you, I offer these teachings of the dharma of awakening.”   

Last point but not least: It is important to remember that expressing loving-kindness, and compassion to others is impossible   w/o, first, practicing it toward yourself. Self-forgiveness does not mean ignoring our mistakes and flaws which can/should be corrected if possible; it means achieving acceptance of self and serenity. 

Without them how can you be nice with others while being mean and unfriendly with yourself?   THANKS, A