Emptiness – Meditation Practice
The Brahma-Viharas (higher abodes) include four powerful meditation practices ( Loving Kindness/Maitri or Metta; Compassion/Karuna; Sympathetic Joy/Mudita; and, Equanimity/Upekkha) that involve boundless radiation outwardly all the way into the infinite universe. These boundless or infinite space meditations, working with deep absorption and projecting kindness outwardly, may lead to positive changes. Experienced practitioners have reported mental beauty, positive affective attitudes, kindness, benevolence, generosity, and liberation happiness. The meditation below also requires that we utilize awakening factors such as mindfulness, concentration, joy, energy, letting go, and tranquility. Hopefully, your practice of this compassion meditation will also reduce your sense of a solid, impermanent self as it leads you to experience the sphere of infinite space. Caution: If at any time you experience the discomfort of extreme dissociation, decide whether to continue or stop. If you stop, simply rest in good self-care. Breathe and relax. If you feel that you desire the company of another person, invite a supportive meditator to share this experience with with. The following meditation is based on the Chinese Agamas, especially the Samyukta Agama as presented by Bhikku Analayo. I have modified the presentation to enhance the practicality of practice.
- Begin with a brief period of loving kindness meditation, then shift into a brief self-compassion meditation dealing with personal suffering you have experienced – suffering you know other people have also experienced.
- Now with calming breath, continue with loving kindness and compassion for specific people you know, then to specific groups, ending with suffering that all people experience in life. May all beings be safe, healthy, happy and at ease.
- Continue to practice, but now work on reducing the perception of space between you and others who suffer.
- Now practice by reducing your attachment to personal possessions. Concentrate and contemplate on the personal meaning of this attachment-reducing practice. Notice your resistance or lack of readiness. Let go!
- Now practice reducing your emotional clinging to your physical body. Reduce, reduce, reduce!
- Allow yourself to move your perception BEYOND your personal experiencing of the SELF, your self.
- Drop your self-cherishing and self-centeredness as you work very hard to expand your authentic caring about other people and their happiness. Place them first; place yourself last. This is challenging!
- Now we are ready for a HUGE leap! Practice letting go of your self-attachment to your ego. Experiment with letting go of attachment and experience – even perceiving your mind and its actions. Go blank!
- You have probably experienced some reduced perceptual energy as you cultivate moving gradually toward emptiness of self, emptiness of mind, emptiness in general.
- Experience the flavor of being in a boundless compassion as you experience moving BEYOND your physical mind and physical body. You have entered the experiential edge of boundless emptiness. Where is the self now?
- Imagine experiencing (without self conceptions) compassionate movement toward and into the sphere of infinite space. Notice the feeling as you approach emptiness.
- Being well on your way into emptiness, experience sympathetic joy for others with good fortune. Personalize this via specific people you may know. Notice as you begin to enter the sphere of infinite consciousness. Notice without evaluation the feeling of being so far out there! Just notice. Perhaps there is a floating feeling.
- Being even more on your way into emptiness, notice the experience of deep equanimity – moving closer to the sphere of nothingness. Remain in that space for a moment.
- Relax in your blissful state of joy. Rest in your present awareness and notice your personal joy in liberation.
- Rest now. Allow in whatever helps you most in this experience. Just BE as you are now! Notice the joy.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
Author of Mindful Happiness
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