Monday, July 15, 2013

Educating the Heart: Ethical mindfulness is the key to happiness

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. 
If you want to be happy, practice compassion." 
~ His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso
Educating the heart, also called Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is "in." Everyone, without exception, wants to be happy. No one wants suffering. That's a universal truth. What does it take to be happy? What are the causes of suffering we need to abandon? What are the causes of happiness we can adopt?

From Mind and Life Institute introduction video

Happiness is a mental state, hence any solution to the conundrum of happiness will be internal, related to the mind, rather than external - "more stuff." "More stuff" doesn't lead to lasting happiness. Acquiring more stuff is like drinking salt water. The more you drink, the thirstier you get. The more stuff you acquire, the more you feel you lack. There's always more and more and more you can get. One ends up chronically dissatisfied. What's the solution? 

Getting off the hamster wheel...

There are three essential conditions or necessary elements for cultivating lasting happiness, a profound sense of well-being, of inner contentment, of inner peace: single-pointed concentration, compassion and wisdom.

COMPASSION is a strong wish that all beings be free of suffering, a deep and sincere concern for others' well-being. The foundation for developing compassion is the practice of universal ethics. In this context, 'universal' means: applied to all without exception, a non-biased ethics. We abandon harming others and gradually adopt a loving and compassionate altruistic outlook, extending our concern beyond the familiar, those who are near to us, to include neutral people, strangers, people we have difficulty with, even our so-called "enemies." Love is the strong wish that all beings be happy, and is a prerequisite and counterpart to compassion, the strong wish that all beings be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.

Developing the Mind of Great Capacity - 2 Methods for Cultivating Compassion 
by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Expanding Your Circle of Compassion - Robert Thurman

Exchanging self and others: Tonglen 
Excerpt from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche (The teacher is problematic but the book is excellent.)
Complete book as free pdf download:

Loving Kindness and Compassion - Geshe Pema Dorjee

WISDOM is the profound understanding of selflessness, of the emptiness of inherent existence of self. In Thich Nhat Hanhs's words: interbeing. We exist interdependently and co-evolve. We ourselves and all compounded phenomena exist in this interdependent, impermanent, continual changing, selfless way.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

~ Matthew 7:3-5 King James Version (KJV)

The more our view of reality is in accord with reality, the less anxiety and the more happiness and well-being we experience. It is said that the ordinary mind perceives: suffering as happiness, impermanence as permanence, and selflessness as self. The wisdom mind perceives: suffering as suffering, impermanence as impermanence, and selflessness as selflessness. Wisdom mind has no confusion, no mistake, no exaggeration of positive or negative projection tacked onto the perceived object - the perception of reality accords with reality. Our mistaken perception of self, of "I," is the "speck in the eye" that gets in the way of clearly perceiving self and others.

3 Root causes of suffering to abandon: ignorance, attachment, aversion
From Integrative Public Health Model to Heal Violence

In order to properly cultivate and internalize compassion and wisdom at the most subtle levels of mind, we must cultivate single-pointed concentration. Single-pointed concentration prepares the mind to be "serviceable and pliant." We can exercise our "mental muscle" in a way that is analogous to exercising our physical muscles. By continually bringing our wandering attention back to a consistent object of concentration - the breath, the body, the mind, or a mental image - we can train and tame our wild and unruly monkey mind, our wild horse mind, our wild elephant mind.

ETHICAL MINDFULNESS, mind training, taming the mind, is essential for happiness. Our mind colors every moment of our experience. In order to have a stable unwavering mind that perceives reality compassionately, yet without exaggeration, we must train our minds.

Excerpt by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on inner peace as our top priority. 
His Holiness ranks 1. inner peace, 2. health, 3. friendship, 4. money, in that order.  

Analytical meditation on the selflessness of self - His Holiness the Dalai Lama 
(See third of three meditations) Buddhist website, generic meditation by His Holiness. Site also has excellent generic intro to meditation.

Two views of the "I" - photo/painting 

Resources for students, teachers, administrators, human beings

Photo from The Dharma Primary School, UK website

How to Meditate on the Breath?
An Experiment in Single-Pointed Concentrative Meditation 

Today's Adventure: 
  • What is meditation? Why meditate?
  • How to meditate on the breath?
  • What did we learn experience or discover?
1. What is meditation?
Meditation is also called mind training, mindfulness or awareness. Meditation = Ethics (not harming others) + Single-pointed concentration We will learn concentrative single-pointed meditation on the breath.

Why meditate?
Meditation helps develop a calm and peaceful mind. By counting 10 or 20 breaths instead of reacting immediately when we're angry, we can deal better with our anger and the situation.

2. How to meditate on the breath?
Sit comfortably. Listen carefully and please follow my instructions....

5-10 minutes every morning upon waking, and every evening before going to sleep. Sit 1. cross legged, or in a chair, feet on floor, 2. straight back is most important, 3. hands on knees, 4. shoulders relaxed, 5. head straight and slightly bent forward, 6. eyes very slightly open, letting in a sliver of light, 7. tongue touches the upper palate. Bring attention to the tip of your nose, where the air comes in and goes out. Notice if you can feel the cooler air coming in and the warmer air going out. Count ten breaths, then repeat. Gradually bring the attention back to the body to end the meditation.

3. Please share aloud (and/or write down), in one or two words or a short sentence, what you learned, experienced or discovered about meditation?

Nurturing Mindfulness in Families, Schools and Youth - Mark Greenberg 45 min
Classroom Handout
Please feel free to copy, use in your classroom, distribute

Ethics is the basis for mindfulness and inner peace. 

Top 10 Ways to Reduce Stress 

3 of Body:
No Killing, No Stealing, No Sexual Misconduct
What to adopt: Saving Lives, Generosity, Fidelity

4 of Speech:
No Lying, No Divisive, Harmful or Meaningless Speech
What to adopt: Honesty, Reconciliation & Conflict Resolution, Kind & Meaningful Speech

3 of Mind:  
No Envy, No Harmful Intent, No Wrong Views - 
especially no mistaken view of self, no exaggerated self-importance
What to adopt: Rejoice in Others' Happiness, Benefit Others, Put Others Before Self

Good Mantras

A Mindful Nation for Our Children:

Building a Mindful Nation for Our Children with Congressman Tim Ryan:

Being Your True Nature 

Free the Mind - Trauma recovery with mind training (Just about everyone's got it.)


Ethics links:

The Dalai Lama Foundation (DLF):

Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World  (DLF study guide in preparation)

Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche quote on mindfulness and ethics

Ethics for a More Prosperous World - H.H. the Dalai Lama

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje:
Educating the Heart / Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Programs and Trainings:

CASEL Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning

Nurturing Mindfulness in Families, Schools and Youth - Dr. Mark Greenberg, University of of Pennsylvania

Goldie Hawn Foundation - MindsUP

Nation of Change article on SEL

Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, Dr. Richard Davidson

Cognitive-Based Compassion Training, Emory-Tibet Partnership

Being Your True Nature trailer - Osel Hita
(16 Guidelines, also above, under Ethics
Becoming Your Own Therapist by Lama Yeshe - wonderful book, free download

Congressman Tim Ryan - A Mindful Nation
Building a Mindful Nation for Our Children 5:08 min 
The Holistic Life Foundation After School Program

Bhutan Schools Focus on "Gross National Happiness" 4:06 min

Sir Ken Robinson:
Janna Weiss' cautionary note: Creativity is only useful if coupled with compassion, with a pure motivation to benefit others. The A bomb was also a creative endeavor.
More Great Education Links:

Bunker Roy - Learning from a barefoot movement

Bhutan Gross National Happiness and Sustainability 

The Drugging of Our Children - Gary Null

Compassion Research - Contemplative Neuroscience: 

Center for Investigating Healthy Minds (also above)

Emory-Tibet Partnership (also above)

Mind and Life Institute
Mind and Life intro 8:24 min

Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, Stanford University

DeSteno, D. The Morality of Meditation. New York Times. July 5, 2013

Weng et al. Multi-Voxel Pattern Analysis of Brain States After Compassion Training Predicts Charitable Donations. Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS) 2012.

Take Compassionate Action:

Begin a daily meditation practice.

Start or join a Study Circle for Ethics

Sign the Charter of Compassion

Participate in the Compassion Games

Watch Occupy Love (full film for a small fee) and/or I Am (hope this Vimeo link is ok to offer)

Share with others.

May all beings be happy. May all beings be free of suffering and its causes.

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