A Summer Practice

Exercise 5.3: Sweetening the World

Sustainable happiness is the pinnacle of human experience. Having descended to the dark depths of internal existence in the previous four Steps (Reflect, Release, Realize, Refine), we’ve surfaced with something far more valuable than all the stuff, achievement, and sensory stimulation we could ever imagine: the union of clarity and selfless kindness. This hard-earned union enables us to be effectively content. The fruit of this effectiveness and conscious contentment is sustainable happiness and the enjoyment of life.

Life is sweet but there is a cost. We are each the cost. To nurture this rare fruit, we must continue to regenerate it by remembering and acknowledging the endless tough circumstances of life and descending again and again into the depths of our being, letting go of what is not accurate or beneficial, acknowledging just what actually is and doing what needs to be done with a sense of responsibility, duty and in the service of the common good.

Now, in this Step, we’re going to bring this hard earned awareness to the ever-present muck and thorns of everyday life. This rare sweetness is a potent medicinal energy that empowers us to heal ourselves and society as we move with the uncertain seasonal patterns and processes of life and existence. From the muck and thorns of uncertainty, we’ve emerged with a profoundly sweet healing elixir: love — because that’s what happiness is. This unique and rare state of being isn’t what often passes for love in our bankrupt society, full of conditions, hunger, and expectations. It isn’t fairy tale love, packaged and taught to us by the greedy and aggressive, which we’re rightfully cynical about. It isn’t playacting love, as if we are television characters. This organically grown love is the water of life, healing when it flows, and becoming toxic if dammed up or hoarded. The following exercise is a method for sharing this sweet elixir with others as we consciously turn with the wheel of life.

To prepare for this exercise, sit in a cross-legged position or on a straight-backed chair. Check to see that the spine and neck are erect but not rigid. Relax the body and face. Keeping the eyes open, lower the gaze slightly, awareness directed inward. Inhale deeply and then exhale fully. Let your breathing return to normal. Take a few moments to quiet the mind and focus the attention on the heart area of the body. If distracting thoughts or feelings surface, acknowledge them, let them go on their way, and return the attention to the flow of the exercise.

Part 1: Offering Yourself the Medicine of Love

Speaking to the deepest part of your being, repeat the following lines:

May I be safe and protected

May I be contented and happy

May I be healthy and strong

May I have the ease of wellbeing

In balance with the seasons of existence.

Speak to yourself as if talking comfortably to someone you know very well and trust completely. Avoid dramatizing / singing the phrases. Just sincerely speak them to yourself in a way that allows you to really hear them. Say them with understanding and willing receptivity. Let these words and their energies in.

Part 2: Offering the Medicine of Love to a Friend

Visualize a valued friend or someone you really respect (it’s best to select this person before beginning this exercise, so as not to break the flow). Now repeat each of the following lines:

May they be safe and protected

May they be contented and happy

May they be healthy and strong

May they have ease of wellbeing

In balance with the seasons of existence.

Again, speak directly and intimately from the heart. Try saying and hearing these lines anew every time you do this exercise, rather than simply memorizing them and repeating them by rote.

Part 3: Offering the Medicine of Love to an Acquaintance or Stranger

Next, clearly visualize someone you don’t know very well and toward whom you have no feelings of like or dislike — someone you regard neutrally. This may be a neighbor, someone who works in a store that you frequent, the mail carrier, a social media acquaintance. Recall as you speak these lines that all living beings are always experiencing uncertainty and the movements of the seasons in every moment.

May they be safe and protected

May they be contented and happy

May they be healthy and strong

May they have ease of wellbeing

In balance with the seasons of existence.

Part 4: Offering the Medicine of Love to Someone Who Annoys You, Who You Dislike, or Who Has Hurt You

“Love is the extra effort we make in our dealings with those whom we do not like and once you understand that, you understand all.” — QUENTIN CRISP

Visualize THAT person, living or deceased. You know which one. No, love isn’t always an easy medicine. This part can be challenging. It can make us uncomfortable and maybe even press red-hot buttons internally. If this part is too difficult when you first start doing this exercise, take a deep breath, gently exhale, and move on to the next part. But before you do, visualize the person and try to get a sense of how they might have been conditioned by the muck and thorns of their life and the toll that it has taken. Take a walk in their shoes. Briefly note the quality of your resistance to the idea of extending the medicine of love to them (anger, sadness, resentment, depression, apathy, and so on) and name it without getting sticky with it. Then move on. This curiosity may open a window to forgiveness at some point further along. Don’t continue to avoid this part of the exercise forever. You may need to pretend at first, but pretend with attentiveness and receptive curiosity. In the end, it will be well worth the effort, though how that’s possible may not be apparent at first. Try to remember that even the most difficult person was once a defenseless child and is now trapped in unconscious habits of grabbing at and pushing away, a reflection of all of us, to varying degrees. Take a chance and trust the power of this healing medicine of love. Not doing so deprives us of an opportunity to free our hearts, and erodes the potential for hard-earned, sustainable happiness.

Once you have visualized the person, repeat the following:

May they be safe and protected

May they be contented and happy

May they be healthy and strong

May they have ease of wellbeing

In balance with the seasons of existence.

Part 5: Offering the Medicine of Love to All Living Beings in Planet Earth

May all beings be safe and protected

May all beings be contented and happy

May all beings be healthy and strong

May all beings have ease of wellbeing.

In balance with the seasons of existence.

With this short and simple exercise (that children can easily do too) we’re practicing internally to bring a medicinal energy to a confused and sick society in realtime; a society that wreaks havoc on itself and all living beings to the point of madness. And we’re also offering this medicine to ourselves, because none of us are exempt from the cause and effect of a received and painful amnesia, social demands, corporate hypnosis, the shifting nature of the earthsphere, and the grinding patterns of the cosmosphere. By consistently wishing well to all living beings, we pattern our relationship with those who share this fragile and exceedingly unstable planet with us, and with ourselves, in ways that dissolve the walls of division that have been constructed between us and those we habitually perceive as “other.” We sweeten our view of, and relationship with, all living beings and all of life. By following the path of the Five Steps, we’ve found the juice of the hard-earned fruit of happiness — love — and we’re offering it freely, even to the greedy and aggressive among us. In fact, we’re offering this love especially to them. This dark season upon us, and the degenerating society that we’re a part of, are now creating people who loath life and that actively, though largely unconsciously, work against it. We are a death culture, so it isn’t surprising that we’re creating these suffering people who unconsciously regard degradation and destructive behaviors to be normal. This is to be expected, given the condition and thought patterns of society in this darkening time. It’s important that we generously extend our kindness and love to them, exposing them to another way of being alive.

This is a very practical medicine. It has the potential to change us and our world profoundly, and to deepen our enjoyment of life. Remember, what we give is what we get. That’s not just a clever little phrase — it’s a diamond-like truth, and the ability to consciously grasp and apply this truth is the real gift that comes with finding ourselves appearing here in human form. Union means that we’re right in the thick of it. We can flavor life with love. (Guys, take note: this love stuff isn’t just for women. Men are fully wired to love all living beings too — and judging from the state of the world, our love is sorely missing and much needed. It’s time, individually and collectively, to man up and fix that.)

We started in Step 1 with muck and thorns and we end up with sustainable happiness and freely flowing love. But note that we’re not candy-coating the world with this exercise. We’re not wrapping everything up in a flower-filled pink bubble. There’s nothing supernatural about this exercise, and the sentiments expressed aren’t greeting-card jingles. We’re not forgetting that life is tough, even unbearably so for many, and that it can get tougher in the blink of an eye. We understand that this happiness doesn’t happen overnight and that it takes sustained practice, but the benefits are well worth the effort for everyone, including ourselves.

[ from No Solid Ground: Renewable Contententment and Sustainable Happiness in an Age of Uncertainty. Rights reserved ]

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Author of No Solid Ground: Renewable Contentment and Sustainable Happiness in an Age of Uncertainty.

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Jeffrey Joe Miller, MA — Clinical Psychology

Jeffrey Joe Miller, MA — Clinical Psychology

Author of No Solid Ground: Renewable Contentment and Sustainable Happiness in an Age of Uncertainty.

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