Mindful Loving-Kindness reaps peace within and undergirds the curriculum in the social media “Peace Ambassador Training 2.0” course.
By Eileen Fleming
On 13 January 2016, over 180 global citizens from over twenty countries such as Pakistan, Turkey, Bosnia, Egypt, Bangladesh, Ireland, Germany, Australia and America united in a twelve week “Peace Ambassador Training 2.0” online course.
“Peace Ambassador Training 2.0” is designed to empower 10,000 Peace Ambassadors by 2020 seeking to reach the tipping point towards peace in our world.
In the first session we learned how “ALGAE” disturbs the peace and “ALGAE” stands for Anger, Lust, Greed, Attachment and Ego.
Being a hot reactor who became inflamed over American policies post 911, I had been driven by ANGER over America’s collusion in Israel’s nuclear deceptions and military occupation of the indigenous Palestinians since my first trip to Palestine Israel in 2005.
However, just over two years ago, I began practicing some yoga asanas [positions] Mindfulness and Meditation and I have grown in patience, no longer internalize the suffering of others and my compassion has grown for their oppressors.
After over a decade of dedicated “peace work” nothing changed: except me!
The more I learn the better life becomes, and it all began with ACCEPTANCE of all things just as they are and being MINDFUL of how I am being!
Mindfulness maintains a moment-by-moment awareness of ones thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.
Breathing deeply into mindfulness will reap acceptance of situations that had previously felt intolerable.
Mindfulness means we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them or giving into believing that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel.
Mindfulness tunes into the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
Mindfulness is rooted in Buddhist meditation with branches that reached the American mainstream through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, launched at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979.
Thousands of studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness, which has inspired schools, prisons, hospitals, veteran’s centers, and others to practice Mindfulness.
In this Greater Good video, Jon Kabat-Zinn explains Mindfulness is not “about sitting in the full lotus, like pretending you’re a statue in a British museum. It’s about living your life as if it really mattered, moment by moment by moment by moment.”
Mindfulness can be cultivated through formal meditation but that is not the only way. Kabat-Zinn and others teach:
- Pay close attention to your breathing, especially when you’re feeling intense emotions.
- Notice—really notice—what you’re sensing in a given moment, the sights, sounds, and smells that ordinarily slip by without reaching your conscious awareness.
- Recognize that your thoughts and emotions are fleeting and do not define you, an insight that can free you from negative thought patterns.
- Tune into your body’s physical sensations, from the water hitting your skin in the shower to the way your body rests in your office chair.
Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness, even for just a few weeks, can bring a variety of physical, psychological, and social benefits such as:
After eight weeks of practicing Mindfulness the body’s immune system is boosted, positive emotions increase and negative emotions decrease as does feelings of stress. One study suggested Mindfulness can help fight depression and prevent relapse as well as antidepressant medications.
Research has found that Mindfulness increases gray matter density in the brain regions linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy. Mindfulness also increases our compassion for ourselves and all others.
Loving-kindness, or metta, as it is called in the Pali language, is unconditional, inclusive love, a love of compassionate wisdom. Metta is not restricted to those you know and love but extends out to include all living beings. There are no expectations for any return and that is pure love.
We must begin by loving ourselves unconditionally and accept ourselves just as we are: perfectly imperfect just like everyone else in the world.
Loving-Kindness meditation softens the heart and opens the mind to deeper levels of feeling of pure love. Loving-Kindness is not a sentimental feeling of goodwill, or obligation, it comes from a selfless place. It does not depend on relationships or how any other person feels about you.
Make yourself comfortable either sitting or lying down. Breathe deeply through your nose and exhale with a loud sigh. Repeat three times and imagine your breath flowing into and out of your heart center [chest, solar plexus]. Anchor your mind only on sensations at your heart center as you say or think:
Keep your mind on sensations at your heart center and think of a mentor, benefactor, teacher, or anyone you respect. Repeat the same phrases for this person, subsisting their name for “I”.
Next move onto a dear friend and repeat the phrases again in their name as you continue breathing in and out of your heart center.
Next think of someone you feel neutral towards, you neither like nor dislike them. As you repeat the phrases, you many have to give yourself permission to feel loving kindness towards them, so do it!
Next think of someone you have difficulty with or feel hostility or resentment against.
It is OK to alter the phrases and say, “To the best of my ability I wish that they be free from inner and outer harm and danger, etc…”
If negative feelings towards that person arise, return to your benefactor until feelings of loving kindness return before returning to your difficult person.
After the difficult person, imagine loving kindness flowing from your heart center out to all beings and say:
During my first guided Loving-Kindness meditation when I was led to think of a person I was having difficulties with, all I could think of were my frustrations, distress and ANGER over US policies which sustain Israel’s nuclear deceptions coupled with a Media that has ignored Israel’s nuclear whistle blower Mordechai Vanunu’s human rights struggle and the illegal and untenable occupation of the indigenous Palestinians.
While breathing out those feelings from my heart center, an unexpected torrent of tears erupted releasing deeply rooted anger and then filling me with overflowing compassion and pity for all those who inflict pain of any kind on any other being!
That watershed moment also freed me from “fighting” for peace for it illuminated that peace can only abide within a calm heart.
The heart is a highly complex information-processing center with its own functional brain, called the heart brain that communicates with and influences the cranial brain via the nervous system, hormonal system and other pathways. These influences affect brain function, most of the body’s major organs and play an important role in mental and emotional experience and the quality of our lives.
According to the HeartMath Institute
The heart also communicates with the brain and body biochemically by way of the hormones it produces. Although not typically thought of as an endocrine gland, the heart actually manufactures and secretes a number of hormones and neurotransmitters that have a wide-ranging impact on the body as a whole.
The heart was reclassified as part of the hormonal system in 1983, when a new hormone produced and secreted by the atria of the heart was discovered…Nicknamed the balance hormone, it plays an important role in fluid and electrolyte balance and helps regulate the blood vessels, kidneys, adrenal glands and many regulatory centers in the brain.
It was later discovered the heart contains cells that synthesize and release catecholamines (norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine), which are neurotransmitters once thought to be produced only by neurons in the brain and ganglia.
More recently, it was discovered the heart also manufactures and secretes oxytocin, which can act as a neurotransmitter and commonly is referred to as the love or social bonding hormone. Beyond its well-known functions in childbirth and lactation, oxytocin also has been shown to be involved in cognition, tolerance, trust and friendship and the establishment of enduring pair bonds. Remarkably, concentrations of oxytocin produced in the heart are in the same range as those produced in the brain.
In my first book, KEEP HOPE ALIVE, I wrote:
For every misunderstanding, every condemning thought, every negative vibration, every tear torn from a heart, every time one grabbed and wouldn’t let go, and they only did it because they did not know: The Divine is within all creation and within all women and men.
For every tiny kindness you have ever done, every gentle word spoken, every time you held your tongue, every positive thought, every smile freely given, every helping hand that opens, helps bring in the kingdom. And the kingdom comes from above and it comes from within. Imagine a kingdom of sisterhood of all creatures and men.
If you want Peace give Loving-Kindness and Mindfulness a chance and then:
“If you want peace work for justice.” – Pope Paul VI
More confessions to be published HERE by this peace activist in “Wabi Sabi Body: ETERNAL SPIRIT” at the conclusion of “Peace Ambassador Training 2.0”
- Response to Israeli expert on whistleblowers and The Matter of Mordechai Vanunu - September 19, 2020
- America’s 19th 9/11, Stand or Fall - September 3, 2020
- USS Liberty Survivors of The Six-Day War Read and Write - August 2, 2020