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Week 10 - Extending Care to Others

Let’s begin with a mindful centering practice to fully arrive to this space.

First, notice your body posture at this moment and begin to make adjustments to sit in an upright position that would allow you to pay attention fully in the next few moments.

You can let go of anything you may be holding on to out of concern, worry, desire, or resentment. Bring your feet flat on the floor, back straight but not stiff, shoulders relaxed, facial muscles relaxed, and hands resting comfortably on your thighs or in your lap. Let your eyes gently close.

(pause)

To begin, let’s take a few deep breaths as an invitation to bring the mind and body together. Take a deep breath through your nose, and let the breath come out through your mouth. Make the exhalation slow and long. Let’s do this two or three more times. Watch the body release as you exhale slow and long.

(pause)

Now let your breath move at its own pace and just pay attention to the flow of the breath in and out. Just notice the sensations of breathing.

(pause)

First, bring your attention to your physical body and notice any sensations.

How is your body feeling right now?

(pause)

Now, bring your attention to your mind and see what thoughts are there. When you notice a thought, just label it as “thinking”.

(pause)

Then, begin to notice any emotions in the body and mind. When you notice any sensations, just label them as “feeling”.

Remember that whatever you notice, you can allow these sensations to be there without having to change them, push them away, or hold on to them. And when your mind wanders, just notice and allow it to quietly return.

Now we will begin explore further our connection with other people beyond our close family members and friends.

Now to begin bring  to mind someone who makes you feel happy as soon you think of them such as a relative, friend, or an animal.

Sense that person or animal in front of you now and let a natural sense of care for this being rise to the surface. If you need to, think about a situation in which that person has done something remarkable or caring for you, or has suffered, or had hopes and dreams that were unfulfilled, or remain uncertain. Consider whatever you need to so that natural care wells up from within.

Notice the kinds of sensations that arise in your own body as you experience this strong sense of care.

(pause)

Begin to wish this person or animal well by reflecting on these simple phrases:

May you have the strength to go through the difficult times in life.

May you be free from stress and anxiety.

May you be free from all fear.

May you feel safe and protected within a circle of caring others.

May you flourish.

Now anchor your attention on the breath for a few moments and notice how you feel in your body.

(pause)

Now bring to mind someone who you have noticed in your life but is a complete stranger to you otherwise. It could be a custodian in a building, someone who you have noticed in class or office but not interacted with, or anyone really.  Imagine this person present in front of you as clearly as you can, however you can. If you can’t see them clearly, try to recall the physical setting in which saw or usually see them, or any physical attribute you have a fragmentary memory of, or the type of activity they were engaged in when you saw them.

Remember the natural care that you felt for those closed to you; reevoke that feeling and consider that this stranger too, in their life, deserves to be loved and cared for just like you love and care for those in your life. While you may not be able to responsible  for providing te care and support they deserve and need, consider experiencing them as a person with all the complexity, awareness, emotions, hopes, and vulnerabilities as those you love. With that mind, recite to yourself these hopes for that person:

May you be safe and protected from danger

May you be happy and peaceful.

May you be healthy and strong.

May you have ease and wellbeing.

Or, use your own words that are more relevant.

Pause and anchor your attention on the breath for a few moments and notice how you feel.

(pause)

Finally, bring to mind someone with whom you may have some type of difficulty, that may have wronged you in some way, and caused you stress, or suffering.  Again, try to recall the physical setting in which saw or usually see them, or any physical attribute you have a fragmentary memory of, or the type of activity they were engaged in when you saw them. Remember the natural care that you felt for those closed to you; reevoke that feeling and consider that this person too, in their life, deserves to be loved and cared for just like you love and care for those in your life. They too, just like you and those you love, are also a human being with their own hopes and fears, disappointments and joys. Although you don’t need to like this person or agree with what they are doing, you may still extend wishes of care and love for this person. With that in mind, quietly recite the following:

May you have the strength to go through the difficult times in life.

May you be free from stress and anxiety.

May you be free from all fear.

May you feel safe and protected within a circle of caring others.

May you flourish.

Because you person are a fellow human being… just like me and those I love.

 

Pause and notice any feelings, any sensations present in your body and mind.

 

(pause)

 

Now, let’s return to your breath and anchor your attention there again.

For a few moments, pay attention to the rise and fall of each breath and the feeling of the breath inside the body.

Let your mind rest in the natural cycle of your breath.

There is no need to do anything right now.

Just rest in the experience of your breath.

(pause)

To close our practice, let’s bring to mind a sense of gratitude. Take a moment to feel the sense of appreciation for all different kinds of  people around us and how our common humanity in all of its various manifestations unites us on some of the most basic levels of human experience, needs, and desires for everday  happiness and flourishing. See if in your daily life you can be more attentive to this common humanity shared by those around us even though they appear to us as a stranger  and different from us at first glance.

(pause)

Now, slowly begin to bring some movement into your fingers and toes, bring some movement into the whole body, stretching gently, and then allow the eyes to open when you’re ready. Take your time.

Week 10 - Extending Care to Others
Collection The Art and Science of Human Flourishing - Fall 2017
Visibility Public - accessible to all site users (default)