When we try to help, how can we make sure that our actions will be truly beneficial? Even though we are trying to be kind, sometimes the result is disappointing. We may be misunderstood, or our actions may have unfortunate consequences that we never imagined. This can lead to a great sense of discouragement, or even hopelessness and depression. How can we avoid that type of situation? In our efforts to develop caring mindfulness, and make kindness and compassion a part of our everyday life, we can become very idealistic. We might be playing a role of our image of a kind person rather than listening to each situation to feel what is appropriate. Caring mindfulness starts with listening to our own mind, being aware of how thoughts and emotions arise, of what impulses are beneficial or harmful, of what creates true happiness and what leads to frustration. On that basis, with some understanding of how the mind works, we can listen to others, and gradually come to understand their needs and what they are able to receive at a certain moment. Each person lives in their own world, with their own landscape of emotions, hopes and fears. It is not surprising that sometimes we touch a sensitive point that we had not noticed. Definitely, by having a kind and generous attitude, by rejoicing in others’ happiness rather than being jealous, and by truly caring when others are unhappy, we will have a positive influence around us, but we may sometimes be trying to impose our ideas and opinions rather than listening to discern the true needs of individuals at a specific moment.
Learning to Listen
Translating good intentions into truly beneficial actions is hard in the complex world we live in, where there is such a variety of opinions and emotional reactions. That is one reason why our meditation practice is so important. When we have clarity and stability we can become aware of what each moment needs and we naturally become more skilful in our activities. This is a long process which requires constancy and patience, but it is infinitely worthwhile. All of Imagine Clarity’s authors offer precise guidance on developing basic calm and mindfulness.
Mindfulness of the present moment, of your every thought, will help you to sustain loving-kindness and compassion. —Matthieu Ricard
To maintain the mindfulness you have developed in meditation, offer yourself a few moments of inner calm whenever you think of it. Even a few seconds can make a difference. Breathe in, coming back to your inner mindfulness and breathe out, releasing the tension. Matthieu also suggests that every hour we spend 10 seconds wishing for someone’s happiness!
A regular meditation which educates us to develop truly altruistic love can reset our attitudes. With consistent training, we can develop an ability to maintain our stability and kind-heartedness even in difficult situations. This is so vital for ourselves, for those around us, and ultimately for society. Start today with Matthieu’s Meditation on Altruistic Love. You can get in touch with the wealth of instinctive kindness that you already possess, and progressively develop a more meaningful and compassionate relationship with yourself and others with my course Exercises for a kind heart. It puts you in touch with your deepest feelings and helps you to use them in a beautiful way. Some people find this more difficult than others, but everyone can benefit. I think you will already feel encouraged if you listen to the introduction. You can come back to a basic sense of tenderness which everybody can naturally feel. That very simple natural feeling of kindness is the starting point for developing our enormous capacity for love and compassion. A kind of universal friendliness with no barriers. The first act of friendship we need to do is to be friendly to ourselves. To establish a sense of inner stability and harmony we start with the simple practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of the breathing. Our body has wonderful capacities, and at the same time is so fragile. Starting with a tenderness for ourselves, in this fragile body, we can develop a tenderness for the fragility of others. We all have a basic nature that we can feel in these moments of presence. That very simple tenderness is the inheritance of all human beings. Charles Hastings
We have had very encouraging feedback about how this approach has made a difference in people’s lives:
I listen to you regularly and, recently, especially to your meditations on the heart and altruistic love, my favourites. I wanted to tell you how much your meditations are a support to me and affect me deeply, transforming me from within. —Stéphanie, Belgium
I am very happy with the application, for which I do not have enough words to thank you... Day after day, this training reveals a part of me that I had no knowledge of. This training is the best thing that could happen in my life. —Elena, Mexico
I have reviewed more than 100 apps on meditation, mindfulness & training the mind. The depth & clarity of teachings in this app are superlative and unmatched! Developing loving kindness and compassion are as important as cultivating mindfulness: and this is the only app which covers these aspects skilfully. —App Store Review