Dear Still Water Friends,
In January this year, I participated in the Five Mindfulness Trainings Transmission ceremony and received the Dharma name Courageous Compassion of the Source. The idea of a new name, a recognition of a different facet of myself to contemplate, resonated with that universal question that I know we all ask ourselves at times, “Who am I?”
I have found that consciously aligning with the two beneficial qualities or mind-states in my Dharma name, ‘compassion’ and ‘courage,’ is helping me to receive a clearer sense of not only who I am but also what I offer to others. In Yoga Nidra, the guided meditation practice that I study and teach, there is a stage of the practice called in Sanskrit Sankalpa, or Heartfelt Resolve. Swami Satyananda Saraswati writes of Sankalpa in his book Yoga Nidra,
“It is an important stage of yoga nidra and a powerful method of reshaping your personality and direction in life along positive lines….but first you must have a direction. Most of us are floundering in the dark like ships without rudders, sails without sheet anchors. We don’t know which way we are headed because we are being led, forced and pushed by the tempest of life….
The sankalpa takes the form of a short mental statement which is impressed on the subconscious mind when it is receptive and sensitive to autosuggestion during yoga nidra. The sankalpa has to be made, not when you are intellectually active, but when your mind is calm and quiet…Sankalpa is a seed which you create and then sow in the bed of your mind. When your mind is clear then the Sankalpa grows very well. If you first prepare the bed with fertilizer and manure, remove the seeds and grass, and then plant the seed, the plant will grow better. In the same way, you have the mind and you have an idea. If you prepare the mind, and sow the seed properly, then it will grow in your life and become a powerful directive.”
I have found it helpful to use this practice in guiding myself to align more deeply with my compassion and courage and have adapted it for my students so they can choose and work with their chosen beneficial qualities. Some examples of these beneficial mind-states besides compassion and courage include generosity, gratitude, kindness, equanimity, authenticity, integrity, and joy.
This Thursday, after our sitting and walking meditations, I will offer a guided meditation on Heartfelt Resolve in which practitioners will choose one to three qualities with which to align. Afterwards, in the Dharma discussion, we’ll discuss our experience in the meditation, and share ways in which beneficial qualities have appeared as guides or beacons in our lives.
You are also invited to join the Still Water community this Saturday, May 18, for a Special Tour of the Freer Gallery Buddhist Collection,
A related quote by Thomas Merton on the Vitality of Spiritual Seeds is below.
Deepening Our Practice: Savoring Life — A Three-session Study and Practice Group. Saturday, June 1 (also June 15 and 29), in Takoma Park, MD.
Touching Life Deeply: A Day of Practice, June 2, 2013 at Blueberry Gardens, Ashton, MD
Vitality of Spiritual Seeds
from New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton
Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men. Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them: for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the soil of freedom, spontaneity and love.