Affairs of the heart

I am a work in progress. I am working towards being a better human being. The essence of our being is reflected in our hearts. Our hearts are like mirrors. They either show our own ugliness, or they show the goodness.

One of the ways that helped me figure out, how many grudges and ill feelings I had been holding inside, was through meditation. I developed this meditation technique back in 2018 after, a friend told me about compassion meditation and shared some interesting facts about how our brains are wired, how the subconscious plays a key role in shaping who we are, and why we feel and do what we feel and do?

This meditation technique is known as Compassion Meditation. A Buddhist practice. The link attached is a short lecture with a guided practice.

I adopted this technique the way it would work for me. Here’s a short description of it, if you prefer to follow this method, I describe it briefly below:

  1. Start by sitting in a relaxed position in a quiet place. Make the body still.
  2. Close the eyes. Cutting off the sensory stimulation.
  3. Be present by focusing on the individual sounds in the surrounding (not busying the ears).
  4. Establish the focus on the breath. A few deep breaths to connect with the present moment.
  5. I start the compassion meditation by being compassionate to myself. I say a prayer in my head imagining myself, I echo this prayer until the force of the prayer is all around me in my head, then I start including those who are close to me expanding the circle of compassion in my head with every prayer. After that I bring the image of the whole earth in my head and echo the prayer in my head. The prayer translates in English to: Our Lord, have mercy on us. Bestow mercy on us!

The practise can last from anywhere from 5 mins to 20 mins.

This meditation technique really helped me let go of grudges and resentment I didn’t know I was holding on to. When I first started practising this technique, images of people that I disliked or was angry or holding some negative emotion for, started to pop up in my head while meditating. I countered this by including those people in my prayers too. I realised that I was holding onto unnecessary and unwanted feelings and emotions. I started becoming more aware of my negative side. I questioned myself why I didn’t like them? Was it useful to hold on to grudges and resentment? Was it helpful? Eventually, I was able to include everyone in this meditation practise without feeling any grudges, dislike, and resentment towards others. 

Back to the intro… I am a work in progress. Although I was happy to discover that some negative emotions found place in my heart and head easier than others. To give you an example, anger and fear found place in my heart and mind easier than other emotions like hate and envy. The reason I am writing this is because, in the past week or 2, I find that anger and fear is once more easily finding place in my heart and occupying my mind. However, armed with the tools to combat them, I am able to keep my composure. However, I cannot remain calm in everything I do, so this highlights that I should start practising this meditation daily, looking deeper inside my heart and subconscious. I am also sharing this because since developing this method, I have consumed a lot of content and found out that similar practices of contemplation have been part of the Islamic tradition too. Here’s a lecture series that talks about the practise of Tafaqqur by Dr. Abdullah Rothman. He talks about 9th century scholar Muhasibi, who mentioned a similar practise in his works. Muhasibi highly influenced the main scholar of metaphysics Imam Ghazzali.

Few months back, I also came across compassion meditation practise in Professor Jason M Satterfield’s course for ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Techniques for Retraining the Mind’. This meditation practise is especially useful in identifying and contemplating upon the state of our hearts and rectifying its affairs. It’s also helpful in combating anxiety and depression.

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