Last week I was at Samye Ling teaching the first Compassion Based Living Course (CBLC) teaching skills retreat. So we now have 21 Compassion teachers trained to teach the course, ready to share the transformative power of Compassion, which is wonderful.
During the retreat we work in groups with each person delivering part of the CBLC course and we went through the whole range of Compassion practices from soften, soothe and allow, through compassionate imagery and loving kindness practices to Tonglen practice.
Three things came to mind. The first is the challenge of facing our difficulties. The second is the transformative power of Compassion practice. The third is the importance of practicing gratitude and appreciation for all the wonderful things we have in our lives as a balance to the facing up to suffering that is the fuel for our Compassion practice.
After training in Mindfulness and Compassion for several years, I was very focused on facing my difficulties, allowing them, feeling them and coming to terms and accepting them. This is an important part of our Mindfulness and Compassion practice and leads to personal growth, but I was finding it a bit relentlessly grim.
Then I went for an interview with Lama Yeshe Rinpoche and his very strong advice was – You need to practice appreciation, appreciation, appreciation!
Taking this on board this is something I practice every day – informally in daily life when I am enjoying a walk in nature, the sun on my face or a nice cup of coffee and formally at the start of my sitting practice. Now I feel like one of the most fortunate people on the planet and this gives me the resource to face the difficulties that come my way.
We will ask Lama Yeshe Rinpoche to talk about appreciation practice at our Compassion in Action weekend at Samye Ling on 11 to 13 March, for which there are still some places available. To book your place, please click here.
Also, the free gift at the Compassion in Action weekend is a gratitude journal and multi-coloured pen. The journal says on the front of it:
Time to pause
Time to smile
Tine to write in this gratitude journal
All the things I appreciate today
It is a beneficial practice, every morning when we wake up, to write in a gratitude journal all the things we are grateful for in our lives. Also, at the end of the day it is beneficial to reflect back on the day on one thing that we appreciated that day and spend some time recalling and writing about the experience in terms of thoughts, emotions and sensations.
This is a particularly important practice if you are quite a serious person or a glass half empty type of a person.
Also, at our Membership Compassion in Action weekend we can form gratitude texting groups, which have proved very popular among our MSc students. Two or three people share their mobile numbers in a group text then when one of them experiences gratitude or appreciation for something in their lives, they share this with the rest of the groups. Rejoicing in the good things in life is catching!
So I hope you join me in this appreciation practice. Have a go and let me know what happens.
–Heather Regan Addis