Sunday is always my favorite day of meditation practice as it's the day I'm fortunate enough to practice with my budding Sangha. We have a small, blooming Sangha in my town and, while we're still "young" as a Sangha, we have a great group of people. I'm really lucky to have somehow, unintentionally and quite unexpectedly, found such like-minded, wonderful people!
Anyhow, our format altered slightly this week. It was raining, and we had a new member, so we decided to review the basics. We used Sharon Salzberg's guided meditation from the first week of Real Happiness which contains all the things perfect for a new person. It's simple instruction and gives a touch of everything you should and shouldn't be concerned with. It is really great for starting out.
Following that, we opted out of our usual garden walking meditation and decided to watch Thich Nhat Hanh's DVD on Walking Meditation. That ran longer than expected and instead of doing more meditation, we opted for chatting. So, while our meditation was on the lighter side Sunday, we had a great time getting to know one another and discussing our group and some future things such as retreats.
Following Sangha, late at night, I sat for 30 minutes. Normally, I wouldn't do an additional sit after Sangha, but I felt the need for it, and I wanted to focus on the Calling Up Difficult Emotions practice in Week Three.
There's not much to tell. It's basically the same as what I wrote about yesterday, but specifically dealing with difficult emotions. You call up a time in the past where you felt some negative or difficult emotion. If at any time you are uncomfortable, you can take a break by following the breath for a bit. When observing your body during this meditation, take a look at how it makes your body feel or react. Note these things. Bring them up, recognize that you can examine them without getting swept away by them, acknowledge these feelings with compassion and then gently let them go. Don't cling to them, and do not push them away. Just allow them to move on. Try to pay special attention to the fact that these emotions are not you…they are just emotions. During your daily activities, start noticing when similar feelings happen to you. You might find that you are better able to handle difficult emotions calmly because of this practice.
I've said it over and over during these last few weeks, but I can't stress it enough. While I'm hopefully providing some useful introduction to this book, Real Happiness, I would strongly recommend that you pick it up and read and practice from it yourself. I keep finding myself recommending it to people, and the more I work with it, the more I feel it's a great beginning point.