Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Homework, Week One -- Perfect Just As You Are

This week's homework for our Four Immeasurables class has two parts:

1. Make a list of people or animals who, when you think of them, you spontaneously feel a sense of openness, tenderness, expansion... in other words, love. It can be only one person or animal, and they may be living or dead.

2. At some point during your daily sit, take at least two minutes and experience receiving love. You may think of a particular situation or experience in the past when you felt complete, unconditional love. Bring it to mind and sit in the experience of receiving love.

Pema Chodron mentioned that if you're visually oriented, you might want to see light rays coming from that person and absorbing into you. You may also consider adding Dr. Martinez' biocognitive technique of including a physical sensation. He recommends crossing your arms and caressing your arms with a gentle stroke of your hands. Another method that works well for me is to apply the palms of my hands -- one to the heart chakra and one to the throat chakra.

When I tried Dr. Martinez' method yesterday, the memory arose of lying down with my head in my mother's lap as she caressed my head. It was a vivid sensory and emotional experience, so it gave me plenty to work with. This morning, I tried the chakra method and a different experience arose. The important note is to make it a felt experience, not conceptual.

Then notice what arises for you in the experience of receiving love. Do you open? Shut down? Expand? Resist? Are there reactive emotions that arise? If so, bring them into your attention and breathe with them. Feel yourself supported in your chair, feel your back to the wall or chair, relax your jaw, and continue in the experience of receiving love.

And if you'd like, come Friday night ready to share what you're noticing. We'll receive the practice on cultivating lovingkindness at the next class. Have a great week!

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