The more deeply we learn to live, the less we value & busy ourselves with material possessions, most experiences, achievements & social status (our own & others'); and the more we simply value & embody kind awareness - intimacy & unconditional love.
The journey is often on "a long and winding road":
“Painful self-doubt and self-criticism are epidemic in our culture, and can wield a power that is enormously destructive and paralysing. Although perhaps the seeds of such distortions of view are only completely eradicated through (deep meditative insight), in most cases it is vital to find various means to at least somewhat disempower their claims right at the beginning of the path. There are so many helpful possibilities and a great deal could be said in relation to these difficult inner constellations. Here though, we will just mention a few things very briefly.
Perhaps the most important is to reiterate the wisdom of proceeding gradually (in our meditation practice)... By witnessing the freeing success of one’s efforts step by step, confidence develops naturally. Implicit in this statement, however, is that we each need to find what actually works for us in meditation. Very often a large part of what underlies the proliferation of self-doubt in relation to practice is that we have not yet discovered ways of working in meditation that we can really feel for ourselves are helpful. With experimentation we can find out; and once we do, self-doubt begins to melt as confidence slowly develops.
We might emphasize too the importance of kindness in meditation in general. And in particular, the gradual transformative and inexorable healing power that comes through devotion to regular loving-kindness (metta) practice should not be underestimated. Here again, it is absolutely vital to find ways of cultivating metta that work for you. There is no ‘right’ way of doing that. Creativity, playfulness, and experimentation are indispensable.
Often untapped, there is also an equally great power accessible in heartfully connecting with our own deepest aspirations. Self-criticism tends to squash these aspirations and obscure our connection with them. Conversely though, tuning into & sustaining a focus on the felt force of these aspirations within oneself – in ways that allow them to gather strength, and allow the being to open to that strength – can significantly undermine the dynamics of self-criticism.”
Rob Burbea. “Seeing That Frees. Meditations on Emptiness and Dependent Arising.” Hermes Amara Publications, 2014. - an excellent book for experienced meditators.
I HIGHLY recommend Bill Morgan's wonderful 10-minute talk on being kinder to ourselves during meditation (followed by a 20-minute meditation), after clicking the link below, scroll to the bottom of the page & play the video immediately below "July 21": https://www.buddhistinquiry.org/resources/daily-sit/
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