At one time or another, we will all want to learn how to use our meditation practice to work with pain. There is no literal, paint-by-numbers prescription for relating to pain; however, there are several important teachings and skillful awareness practices to consider when working with pain and unpleasant sensations.
The acronym RAIN is an easy-to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness and compassion using the following four steps:
Recognize what is happening;
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
Investigate with interest and care;
Nurture with self-compassion.
You can take your time and explore RAIN as a stand-alone meditation or move through the steps whenever challenging feelings arise.
Listening is more than a communications skill, it is a capacity that arises from receptive presence and awakens our awareness. As we learn to listen inwardly, we begin to understand and care for the life that is here. And as we listen to others, that same intimacy emerges.
One of the most powerful spiritual practices in the world is to reflect on your heart’s deepest intention. These resources look at the way that ego-based intentions perpetuate thoughts, feelings and actions that keep us imprisoned in feeling separate and limited. In contrast, remembering our deeper intentions calls us home to the freedom of our true nature.
There is an inner freedom that expresses as happiness and peace, and it is accessible when we arrive in openhearted presence. As the Buddha said, If it were not possible to find liberation, I would not teach about it.
Grieving loss consciously is at the center of the spiritual path. It is soul work — healthy, cleansing, and intelligent. The process allows us to metabolize the pain of loss and continue living. It lets us open to love. By honoring what has passed away, we are free to embrace the life that is here. Yet grief is so deeply painful, so hard to endure. A question I am often asked is: How do I find refuge in the midst? What can help me move through the pain of separation?
Gratitude is like breathing in – letting ourselves be touched by the goodness in others and in our world. Generosity is like breathing out – sensing our mutual belonging and offering our care. When we are awake and whole, breathing in and out happens naturally. But these beautiful expressions of our heart become blocked when we are dominated by the fear and grasping of our survival brain.
Forgiving means not pushing anyone, or any part of our own being, out of our heart. As we bring a full, compassionate presence to the wounds that we’ve been protecting, we release the armoring of hatred and blame that has been imprisoning our heart. We cannot will this process of forgiveness, but we can be willing. It is a challenging and courageous life practice that frees us to love without holding back.
In Buddhist teachings, compassion is described as a “quivering of the heart” in response to suffering. Compassion awakens as we allow ourselves to be touched by our shared vulnerability – our own, or that of another. It’s the medicine we most need to bring healing to our world.
Most of us, in some way, struggle with fear – instinctually tensing against it or becoming overwhelmed by it. Shifting our relationship with fear is central to the evolution of consciousness. While fear is a natural, intelligent emotion, when it goes into overdrive, we are in a trance that contracts our body, heart and mind. Our resistance to fear sustains this trance and perpetuates our suffering. As we learn to attend to fear with mindfulness and care, its grip loosens, and we reconnect with our full aliveness, wisdom and love.
Beliefs and thoughts are navigational maps that are not inherently true. Rather, some serve us and others cause feelings of separation, self-aversion and/or blame of others. We can free ourselves from harmful beliefs by investigating them with a dedicated, mindful and courageous presence.
I composed this song “Find Your Way Om”, originally called “Find Your Way Home” back in 2011. I was walking along a beach before heading into the mountains of Spain for a solitary meditation retreat. And this song popped into my head – so I recorded it there and then on my iPhone!
I composed this song back in 2011. I was walking along a beach before heading into the mountains of Spain for a solitary meditation retreat. And this song popped into my head – so I recorded it there and then on my iPhone!
I set an intention to write an album of spiritual songs this year. The first song is called Listen and available for free download from this site and via the podcast. On the day of the last full moon, May 18th 2019, I spontaneously given birth to a new song. It’s called “Love Comes Through” and I’d love you to hear it.
Part 1 of an interview with Paul John Roach. Paul hosts a weekly radio show entitled World Spirituality on the Unity.fm internet radio network.
I visited the Isle of Wight and enjoyed a bike ride with Gary Hill, my friend and fellow mindfulness practitioner. So much happened within the space of 24 hours that helped with our practice!
Interview with David Cole – international Spiritual Teacher. Includes discussion on how mindfulness and meditation integrates with Christianity.
Until recently, when people asked me my opinion on climate change, I told them I didn’t know enough about it to comment. I’d respond by explaining how the earth is like everything in that it’s created, sustained and ultimately destroyed. I felt a little ignorant about the whole climate change thing if I’m being honest.Recently, two events took place which increased my awareness and understanding. A friend of mine was locked up in a police cell for protesting about climate change in London. And I watched David Attenborough’s recent BBC documentary. I view David as a “trusted source” when it comes to nature.I learned about climate change being (in David’s words) “Our greatest threat in thousands of years”. And that we may only have the next decade to take dramatic action and avoid irreversible damage to nature and collapse of societies.From there, I contemplated what this means in terms of spiritual practice. In my book “Living a Life of Harmony – 7 Guidelines for Cultivating Peace & Kindness” there are four guidelines that are highly relevant to this situation:Act with kindness, considering everyone and everythingUnderstand the truth, communicating it skilfully and selectivelyHarmoniously obtain and retain only what you needDo only what needs to be doneKindness features in all spiritual teachings. Personally, I believe it stretches out well beyond people into all of nature. And when you stop and think about it, if we’re unkind to nature, we’ll be harming people as well! Eating less of the foods that we know contribute towards climate change like lamb and beef can be an act of kindness to the animals and to nature.I feel it’s important that we understand and communicate the facts when it comes to climate change. I appreciate that most of us aren’t scientists who can directly evidence or infer what’s going on. However, we can turn to our trusted sources like David Attenborough to help us. And then there’s the question of how we communicate what we believe to be true – to ensure that our words and actions have the best possible impact.Having only what we need plays a big part in helping manage climate change. When we buy items excessively we’re encouraging their transportation which is often international and contributing towards higher CO2 levels. If we can buy only the items we need, go for quality, and make them last longer, that’s going to help. And obtaining items harmoniously means considering how they’re made and supplied.Finally – doing only what needs to be done – especially in the area of personal travel and transport will certainly help.All of these guidelines need to be applied at the collective as well as the individual level. Families, organisations and countries all need to be directed to do the right thing. And the right thing aligns beautifully with the basics that we find in spiritual teachings.
Richard Anderson is an all-round great guy, an awakening coach, spiritual author and blogger. I spent a day with him and his lovely family in Devon, UK. He interviewed me about my first book Being Present.
Two modes of the mind
How the book came aboutInfluences of Eckhart Tolle
The history of being
Integration of different teachings
How religions and philosophies have different emphasis’ and strengths
Using spiritual practice to achieve a peaceful mind
Different ways to cultivate a peaceful mind
Planned and spontaneous practiceIs everybody awakened?
Is comparing people spiritually delusional?
Is Presence there all the time?
Do we share our essence of Presence?
Who is the book Being Present for?
Why do you need spiritual practice when you’re awake anyway?
Do you degrade spiritually without practice?
How is spiritual practice similar to exercise?
How is suffering used to help us evolve?
Is it OK to be fearful of pain and suffering?
What happens when we coast spiritually?
What are the 7 guidelines to cultivate peace and kindness?