Part of Nalanda Institute’s Offerings for Uncertain Times
Given the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the constants in our lives have shifted or are under challenge. We all find ourselves more directly confronted with our vulnerability and mortality as living beings, and that naturally stirs anxiety and a sense of powerlessness. We all have had to resort to an unprecedented degree of social isolation, and that naturally stirs loneliness, insecurity, and a sense of loss. And we’ve all had a powerful reminder of how interconnected we all are, regardless of all our differences, and that naturally stirs a sense of dislocation, uncertainty, and overwhelm.
When we reflect on each of these challenges in light of the timeless wisdom and contemplative practices that bring us together in this community, we can readily see why the great Nalanda Masters would encourage us to turn the very real adversity of this pandemic to advantage. How can such real threat be an opportunity to learn? By prompting us to delve deeper into our reflection and practice. After we’ve done all we can in the way of taking reasonable precautions and supporting others, hopefully we can use some of the down-time we all face to work at improving our moment-to-moment resilience and peace of mind, or maybe even to advance our lifelong journey towards the blissful freedom of profound wisdom and great compassion.
We offer these guided audio meditations as potential aids for you and yours in coping with these uncertain times. Please use them for your own sake and for the good of all.
Brief Practice of Body Mindfulness
The most basic application of mindfulness is focused on the breath and extends to the breathing body. Breath and body serve as focal points to develop a centered state of presence and self-awareness that balances clarity and calm.
Brief Practice of Balanced Sensitivity
This practice reviews body mindfulness and non-reactive mindfulness, and then applies them to develop a balanced mode of mindful sensitivity that supports equanimity in daily life.
Brief Practice of Open Awareness
This practice reviews body mindfulness and balanced sensitivity and then opens up to focus on the flow or space of pure awareness that supports and contains the surface contents of thoughts, images and emotions. This practices helps develop the self-observing capacity psychologists call meta cognitive awareness.
Brief Practice of Mindful Insight
This practice uses open awareness to reengage with the flow of thoughts, images, and emotions that normally occupy our waking mind. It focuses insight on distinguishing implicit bias and traumatic habits from healing insight and caring habits, so we can clear our heart and mind for cultivating open-mindedness.
Brief Practice of Equal Empathy
This basic compassion practice uses mindful awareness and insight to expose and clear the innate and learned biases which trigger reactive clinging, confusion, and anger. In place of reactive bias and habit it focuses on equal empathy that helps cultivate healing emotions of pure love, human kindness and compassion, tolerance and acceptance.
Brief Practice of Self-Compassion
This critical compassion practice harnesses mindful insight and care to trace our stress-reactive bias and habits to their roots—our traumatic self-constructs and stress reflexes—then works to bring healing insight and self-care to clear these blocks to radical self-acceptance and compassionate openness.
Brief Practice of Give and Take
This key compassion practice relies on the application of mindful insight to stretch the limits in our capacity to feel wise compassion for others—by taking our awareness of others’ suffering deep into our hearts, dissolving it into our own healing insight and care, so that we can give back healthy love, human kindness, and radical acceptance to others—close, neutral and far—one heart and mind at a time.
Brief Practice of Invoking Mentors
This practice relies on mindful insight to expand our capacity to access and manifest wise compassion by envisioning mentors of kindness and compassion, invoking their guidance, blessing and encouragement as a resource to inspire our altruistic spirit, and to emulate their way of being.
Open Mind, Warm Heart
This condensed meditation touches on all four compassion practices, starting with the basic practice of unbiased empathy, moving through self-compassion, then touching on giving and taking, before culminating in invoking and emulating mentors.
Brief Practice of Role-Modeling Imagery
This “top-down” embodied practice relies on radically open awareness to deconstruct our traumatic sense of self and world and to envision an encounter with a congenial role model who mirrors our ideal vision of self and world. It rehearses a seven step practice of admiring, internalizing and integrating the caring way of being we admire in mentors and models of wise compassion and altruism.