Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations.Fourth Mindfulness Training
Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in away that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.”
A guided meditation to develop a personal practice of love meditation.
We begin by practicing the love meditation on ourselves (“May I”). Until we are able to love and take care of ourselves, we cannot be much help to others. After that, we practice them on others (“May he/she/they”) – first on someone we like, then on someone neutral to us, and finally on someone who makes us suffer.
“May I be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit. May I be safe and free from injury. May I be free from anger, afflictions, fear and anxiety.
May I learn to look at myself with the eyes of of understanding and love. May I be able to recognize and touch the seeds of joy and happiness in myself. May I learn to identify and see the sources of anger, craving, and delusion in myself.
May I know how to nourish the seeds of joy in myself every day. May I be able to live fresh, solid, and free. May I be free from attachment and aversion, but not indifferent.”
Dharma sharing is an extension of love meditation and is an opportunity to benefit from each other’s insights and experience of the practice. It is a special time for us to share our experiences, our joys, our difficulties, and our questions relating to the practice of mindfulness. By practicing deep listening while others are speaking, we help create a calm and receptive environment. By learning to speak out about our happiness and our difficulties in the practice, we contribute to the collective insight and understanding of the Sangha.
Dharma Sharing Guidelines
Practice deep listening and loving, mindful speech
Even though we have the intention to listen deeply, our mind will wander. Perhaps we are agreeing, disagreeing, feeling agitated, wanting to respond, or drifting. If we are mindful of our thoughts and inner dialog, we can choose to come back to being present with the person speaking.
It is best to avoid discussions that are theoretical. Instead, we speak from the heart about topics that emanate from our life and practice. This involves speaking with awareness in a way that could be of benefit to others as well as ourselves; speaking with kindness, in a voice that is clear and loud enough for everyone to hear; connecting with others by making eye contact; and perhaps smiling from time to time. We all benefit from hearing each other’s insights and direct experience of the practice.
It is good for the atmosphere of the Dharma sharing for participants to take three breaths before speaking to allow time for the previous person’s speaking to be fully received.
Before speaking we may wish to make a flower with our hands and bow. When we bow, we are signaling that we would like to share. The Sangha bows back, acknowledging that we are ready to listen deeply. When we are finished we let the Sangha know by bowing again. Knowing that we will not be interrupted creates a safe and harmonious environment.
Avoid giving advice, even if it is asked for.
In general it is helpful to always use the word “I” instead of the word “you.” Speaking from our own experience eliminates the opportunity to give advice. If someone asks for advice and a practice that we have worked with comes to mind it is fine to share our experience.
All that arises is confidential
“What is said here stays here.” Confidentiality secures the safety of the group and helps avoid gossip. Also, after the Dharma Sharing time, if we want to talk with someone about what they said in the group, we first ask if it is okay. Sometimes a person does want to talk more about what they said and this is a respectful way to honor that.
We are encouraged to speak mindfully, “not too much and not too little” for the number of participants. This ensures that everyone can speak and provides a space where we can benefit from all of our Sangha wisdom. Near the end of the time the facilitator may offer an opportunity for those who have not spoken to do so if they wish and may address any unanswered questions.
Share with the whole circle
Whatever we share is for the benefit of all those present. We do not engage in cross-talk with another participant. If we ask a question we ask the whole group and if we answer a question we speak to the whole group and not just the person who asked. If we ask a question we should not expect an answer straight away. Another topic may be addressed first and only when someone feels ready will the question be addressed. However, if towards the end of the sharing, the question has not been addressed the facilitator will do so to the best of his/her ability.
We might invite the bell now and then for us to pause and create space especially when intense feelings arise (judgment of self or others, frustration, impatience, exclusion, anger, etc.). This can be done at the outset of a sharing or spontaneously as needed.