Practice: Goodwill Meditation | iHanuman


Love, Service, Devotion, Yoga

Practice: Goodwill Meditation

More and more of our prison friends are spending time on lockdown during this difficult age. Many of them feel frustrated that they cannot do anything to help others. But we can all help others. Praying for others is very real and, depending on the strength of our minds, can be very powerful as well. Below is one specific "goodwill meditation" you can use at a regular time each day which will benefit others during times you are unable to be in closer contact.
Sit straight and quietly, eyes closed, and let the attention focus on calm breathing for a minute or two. Let other thoughts go. Now bring to mind the image of someone or something you love in a very sweet and affectionate way (not a passionate romantic love, but more like a baby or child, a parent or grandparent, a childhood pet, or even a favorite place in nature). Breathe into the center of your chest (your spiritual heart-center) as you feel the gratitude and affection associated with this image, and quietly expand it so that you are offering a blessing to that person, place or thing which means so much to you. To offer a blessing can be as simple as thinking, "May you be well; may you find true peace in your life." Imagine the face of that person or pet receiving your blessing and smiling.
Continuing to breathe into that affectionate heart-place, bring to mind the people in the cells around you, and don't let the feeling of affection slip away. Picture each of them, including the guards, and offer them the same blessing. Remember, anyone who finds true peace in their lives will never be cruel to anyone else, so it doesn't matter who this person is or what they are like, your blessing will not only help them, but help others as well. Keep expanding your images outward, including the whole building you are in, the city, region, state, nation, and finally the world. Whenever you feel your affection slip away, bring back your original image to get the feeling back again.
At the end of this practice, when you have included all beings in your blessing, "see" yourself sitting right where you are, like a shining angel, radiating light outward in all directions equally. At this moment, because of your goodwill, no one in the whole world is unloved. No one is unforgiven. No bitterness or grudges are festering in you. Recognize your power and your responsibility to pray for the world in this way, and then offer the same blessing to yourself: "May I be well; may I find true peace in my life."
A meditation such as this can be a very powerful service practice to develop in our lives. His Holiness the Dalai Lama once told me that men and women doing practices such as this in little caves in the Himalayan Mountains are part of the reason the world has not destroyed itself so far. They may never leave their caves, yet they affect the whole world by the compassion in their hearts, which is then projected outward through the strength of their minds. Hearts and minds. Yours, mine, can be purified and focused to become a potent force both in our local environments and the world itself.
This is a good practice for anyone to do, and it is especially good for those of you who feel you cannot participate in service in any other way. Make a regular time each day to do this, slowly and sincerely, for at least ten or fifteen minutes. Each day, your ability to concentrate and "see" others, and "see" the light around you going off in all directions, will increase. It's very gradual, but you will get better and better at it to the point where this will probably be your favorite time of the day. You may notice the people around you actually changing from your secret, daily dedication to their well-being. We have heard this from many people who did this practice.
If there's a particularly nasty staff member, focus on him or her every day for a month, picturing their face softening, heart opening. You may be astounded at the change in that person. If violence breaks out in your prison, focus every day on all the parties involved, and you will be like a secret spiritual "swat team" doing your part to bring an end to the conflict. Take responsibility however you can, from wherever you are. You do have influence if you are willing to develop your skill in projecting it. If you meditate or meet with others on a regular basis, do this goodwill meditation as a group and you may see even more results. But whether you see results or not, I promise you that your efforts are not wasted. Never. So do your part.

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