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Whole Motion by Derek Beres

Whole Motion by Derek Beres

Author:Derek Beres
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Carrel Books
Published: 2017-06-11T16:00:00+00:00


Meditation #2: Break on Through

This meditation asks you to imagine the pain of others in order to come to terms with your own capacity for empathy and healing. This is not an easy meditation, especially if you feel vulnerable. Yet I personally believe that’s the best time to practice, given that a sense of hurt is prevalent. Meditation is not an escape but an entrance. Inspired by the Tibetan practice of tonglen, which means “taking and receiving,” the most famous purveyor of this meditation is the Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön. This format is designed to strengthen your brain’s resilience system. It is also the meditation I used when going through a divorce and cancer. In both situations it helped me manage the darkness I had entered and come through the other side stronger.

Hormesis is the phenomenon used to describe the act of creating tension to gain strength. This meditation works in a similar manner. You’re momentarily injecting an emotional toxin to build resistance. The end game is not only helping yourself, but being more open with others. As Richard J. Davidson writes, “Part of an empathic response is feeling someone’s pain. Indeed, recent research has shown that when we empathize, the brain activates many of the same networks as when we ourselves experience pain, physical or otherwise.”21

Remember, you’re merely introducing a small amount of toxin into your inner network of thoughts and feelings to emerge stronger. When you disassociate the feeling of psychic pain with the content that produces it, you come to terms with your inner world in startling new ways. By envisioning the pain of others you heal your own, developing a better relationship not only with yourself, but with those around you.

1. Find a comfortable seat. Closing your eyes, visualize someone who is suffering. It could be a child you saw on the news or a loved one dealing with a disease. Or it could be your own pain in the form of someone else’s body. I’ve personally found better success imagining people I know; it is easier to relate to them. At the same time, if it’s too close to home, invoking a random person might be a better option. If it is your own pain the figure can be shadowy or incomplete. What’s important is that you recognize an entity in your mind’s eye.

2. With every inhalation, picture yourself breathing in this person’s pain, physical or existential. Envision that pain traveling through your nostrils, into your lungs, and radiating to all edges of your body.

3. As you exhale, imagine the pain leaving your body. Notice the sensation as your body is alleviated of suffering.

4. Repeat for at least twenty breaths, longer if you can sustain your focus. Over time the number of breaths won’t matter, but in the beginning it’s helpful to have a stable number to focus on. When complete, sit still for a few moments longer before opening your eyes again. Notice the shift in your feelings.



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