Compassionate Integrity Training Final CIT training manual 11-30 - Page 46

Compa ssionate Integrit y Tr a ining A S e cu l a r Ethic s A ppr oac h to C ulti vat ing Pe rs on al, S o ci al and E n vir on me n tal F lo u r i shing ask, “cultivating what?” One can cultivate many unfolding of experience in the present moment. things, including mindfulness, lovingkindness, Focused attention practices, also called “stabilizing” compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, etc. Similarly meditation, involve focusing the mind on a par- the Tibetan word goms is translated as “to ticular object, such as the breath, and maintaining familiarize.” One can familiarize one’s mind concentration on that object in order to refine with many things, again including forgiveness, attention. While such practices have become gratitude and compassion. The Sanskrit and quite popular in modern culture, and have many Tibetan terms therefore show that meditation benefits, recently attention has also turned to involves cultivating something or familiarizing “analytical” meditation. Different from simple oneself with something so that it grows. This present moment awareness, analytical meditation shows that we can engage in a wide variety of involves investigating an object or topic in order meditations, since there are many inner qualities to gain insights into it. For example, it would we can cultivate. Meditation, therefore, is not be rather straight-forward for us to select just one thing. someone who has been very helpful in our life and then meditate by stabilizing our mind on As we will see, it is critical to understand the gratitude we feel for this person. Such a prac- the skill one is trying to cultivate in order to tice would certainly be beneficial and would re- know what the object of that practice is. If we constantly familiarize our mind with something then that thing will get stronger and more deeply rooted into our everyday life. As we have seen, this idea is supported scientifically through the process of neuroplasticity, whereby the brain is constantly restructuring neural pathways based on environment and practice. If we cultivate distraction, anger or frustration, then our minds begin to more easily react to stimuli in those ways. If we practice their opposites, however, such as mindfulness, kindness, gratitude and compassion, then over time, these values and skills become stronger and more deeply rooted into our lives. inforce the gratitude we feel. However, such a practice would not help us feel gratitude toward someone who harmed us and who we considered an enemy. This is where analytical meditation comes in. Through analytical meditation, we can use our mind to investigate the person in question to try and find some way to feel gratitude toward this person, not necessarily for the harm they caused, but for other things they may have done that have benefited us. In this way, analytical meditation can lead us to new insights that can increase our gratitude, forgiveness and compassion. This allows us to overcome obstacles that stand in the way of our own happiness and that of others. The specific strategies for cultivating gratitude, Some forms of meditation are nonanalytical, forgiveness and compassion come later, but for meaning that they do not require a critical now it is simply important to know the difference engagement with an object of focus. Mindfulness between non-analytical and analytical meditation, meditation, for example, involves maintaining since both are useful. Most of the meditations in an observant and nonjudgmental stance to the CIT are analytical meditations. Ce n t e r for Compa s sion , I nteg r i t y and S e cu l ar E t hics | L ife Uni ve rsi t y | M ar ie t ta, G e or g i a - 40 -