Welcome to Mondo Samu - Questions and Answers about my self-work.

Mondō: "questions and answers"; a recorded collection of dialogues between a pupil and teacher.
Samu: Work service; meditation in work.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

#RealHappiness 28 Day #MeditationChallenge 2012 - Review

Late in January, I decided that I would participate in the 2012 Real Happiness 28 Day Meditation Challenge after telling a host of friends that the Real Happiness book by Sharon Salzberg was a great way to help them start a daily practice but watching them struggle to do so. I figured it would help motivate them if they had a little company from someone they knew who was directly participating.

Having been practicing for almost two years now, and having read the Real Happiness book previously, I didn't think it was going to do much for me to participate in this thing. What I found was that just reading the book and actually participating in the challenge are two very different things!

From what I observed, this is for two reasons:

1) Doing is better than reading! I had read the entire book and had even practiced many of the methods or - more accurately - something close to them. The difference, this time, was doing them in a daily, planned fashion with guidance. This structure, I feel, translated to a lot of insight and benefit that I didn't expect. The challenge aspect and this structure compelled me to want to track my effort by writing about it.

The second reason I think the results of the month of dedicated practice was such a surprising help was...

2) Responsibility. The commitment to participate in the challenge and, more importantly, to write about it publicly gave me a sense of responsibility that helped me stay at it. While I already practice daily and don't require any additional motivation to practice, I think that writing about it daily made me stick strictly to the books practices rather than settle for ones I might prefer normally.

These two things provided a sort of motivation loop that kept running on its own steam, one step feeding the other, perpetually. So much so, that I'm a little sad to see it stop! But, then, that's a good reason to remember the most important lesson the month had to offer:

Start over!

#RealHappiness - Day 27 - Circle of LovingKindness

This one was the only meditation in the book that I found a little alien and uncomfortable. The only reason was this idea of imagining yourself at the enter of a circle of the most loving beings you can think of. I think the first clue that I need to practice in this manner was this uncomfortable feeling. The second was the very telling fact hat I had a hard time thinking of who would form this circle. The first couple were easy. Siddartha Gautama, Thich Nhat Hanh, The Dalai Lama and so on. I added a few other leaders of the world who were known for their compassion. They were easy because there aren't many. Then, I thought I would add some I knew personally. That's when the discomfort returned.

It's very easy to imagine the cheerful smile and goggly glasses of HHTD wishing me well, but when I thought of some of the people closest to me, I didn't think I could imagine them being purely loving toward me. This is disturbing because there are certain people you should be able to automatically count on for unconditional love. Right?!

The first sign of trouble was when my Dad popped to mind but my Mom didn't. I won't divulge the list, in it's final form, here but it was interesting enough that it bears my returning to it later to practice the LovingKindness meditations on the folks who didn't make the cut! ;-)

With my list complete, I settled in and began with breath meditation and some Metta phrases for myself. After a bit, I imagined the people of the circle giving me their full attention and loving regard. Some of those people are some of you reading this now. I envisioned the easiest one first. Sid. Can't imagine him having anything but loving regard for anyone, right?! Then Thich Nhat Hanh, HHTD and so forth.

You choose three or four phrases like the ones we've been using to have these beings offer to you. These should be big, broad phrases in their scope. Then imagine the beings in the circle offering you these phrases with all of their regard and love. I chose these:

May you be free of suffering.

May you be happy.

May you be at ease.

May you be at peace.

May you love and be loved.

The book warns that this may be uncomfortable, but I didn't find it so. Then it says to let whatever emotions arise pass through you without pursuing them. This is a little harder, but still was fairly comfortable for me, perhaps because of my daily practice. Perhaps it would be more difficult if I didn't already have a daily practice in place.

Simply practice this receiving of love from people wishing you love for as long as you like and when you are ready, you end the practice.

With this beautiful and simple practice, I brought the practices provided for the Real Happiness 28 Day Meditation Challenge to a close. Tomorrow I will practice a core sitting meditation while reflecting on the month.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

#RealHappiness - Day 26 - Lovingkindness While Walking

The practice Sharon provides for LovingKindness While Walking is a very simple instruction. Simply walk as you would for a walking meditation but instead of focusing on the movement of our steps and the breath, we focus on repeating phrases of LovingKindness to ourselves.


May I Be Peaceful. May I Be Happy. May I Be Safe.


As we walk, part of our attention will fall on our thoughts and part will fall on our surroundings. We can start by repeating the LovingKindness phrases for ourselves. As we go along, thoughts of other people may arise, perhaps someone we love or someone we have conflict with. When they do, offer them the phrases altered for them, then return to yourself.


May You Be Peaceful. May You Be Happy. May You Be Safe.

May I Be Peaceful. May I Be Happy. May I Be Safe.


Practice in this way as long as you like or for the duration of your walk. That's it!


Last weekend, when I performed this practice, I was out of town visiting friends. As I've mentioned, this trip provided a plethora of opportunity for various LovingKindness practice, much insight and some real healing and deepening of my understanding of this practice.


One such example was when I had the opportunity to walk with one of my old friends whom I had great difficulty with. During the walk, we talked a lot. When we weren't talking, I used the quiet to mentally offer us each the phrases above. Then, when conversation came, I found myself warmed to the task and able to talk openly about our past, our present, our families and so on with an open heart and warmth. It was really great for both of us. I highly recommend this practice. It's good for you inside and out, physically and mentally!