Reader comment on Isabel Hickey's passage ...

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    On Sep 4, 2012 Ross wrote:

     Two transformational exercises

    LOVE - recently I came up with the idea of feeling love in my heart towards all that I saw, this was a CHOICE  (had not considered it as such before), I had a wonderful day, more relaxed and open with everyone, and hopefully it was good for others too.

    Compassion - This helped me recently totally change the impact of a difficult relationship I had.  There is an amazing exercise in Buddhism called Taking and Giving (Tonglen in some traditions) where with pure motivation and compassion (this is crucial otherwise it will not work) we imagine all the suffering of others (this can be one specific individual you care for or are having problems with, a group of people such as people suffering from specific illness or problem that YOU may also be suffering from). Then having developed compassion for them we imagine and breathe in the suffering (anger, depression, illness, bad fortune....) in the form of Black smoke into our own heart center (with the belief that this dissolves our own self-centered attitude which is very strong when we are unwell or are having problems AND eradicates the suffering of the other). Then we imagine that we breathe out White smoke which is full of blessings and completely fills their bodies making them healthy and happy.  We then meditate on this sense of joy:  Our own relief from self-centered attitude and their relief from suffering.  This is extremely powerful - it is impossible to have problem with people that you care about by creating compassion towards them. How can you be angry or have problems with someone that you cherish, and this is all down to you!!!! By doing this exercise YOU take control in being happy and develop better relationships.  Initially this may be challenging as:  we may not want the other to be happy!!!  or worry about breathing in the Black smoke.  However if we do not want the other to stop suffering, we will suffer as we are in relation with them and are exposed to the results of their suffering (bad relationships, anger, depression, etc) so effectively by increasing our compassion we are protecting ourselves too.  The black smoke can not harm us as we are taking it with a pure motivation of Compassion and we are directing it at our self-centeredness (self-cherishing) which ironically tends to cause lots of problems in the first place.  This is all down to practicing a mental exercise focused on virtue of Compassion, we do not have to keep repeating the attitudes that can be customary  around us like choice-less individuals, this however will take some practice but then dealing with any unhelpful habit does require a little effort. Good Luck 

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