Christopher Germer, PhD, author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion; clinical psychologist specializing in the application of Buddhist psychology and meditation to alleviate difficult emotions in psychotherapy and everyday life. Brahma Kumaris Australia was established in Sydney in 1975 (then known as Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Centres) after a young traveller came across this spiritual wisdom in London and brought it back to his homeland.
We can get ourselves into a bit of trouble when we think of compassion only in terms of “giving.” It leaves a huge opening for our ego to step in.
Even worse, the mask can become a shield for hiding away the parts of myself that I don’t want to show the world.
A few years ago, I was on a retreat that focused on becoming more ourselves and living up to our potential. Sunada Takagi is on a mission to help people open their hearts and minds through mindfulness. Sunada also teaches and leads retreats at Boston Triratna Buddhist Community and Aryaloka Buddhist Center. As a postscript, I’d like to post a comment I got elsewhere in response to this article. The idea behind compassion-based meditation is that "the feelings we have about people can be trained in optimal ways," says Lobsang Tenzin Negi, who developed the protocol. The meditation protocol, known as Cognitively-Based Compassion Training, or CBCT, was developed at Emory by study co-author Lobsang Tenzin Negi, director of the Emory-Tibet Partnership. The research team also included senior author Charles Raison, formerly a psychiatrist at Emory's School of Medicine and currently at the University of Arizona, and Emory anthropologist James Rilling. When most people think of meditation, they think of a style known as "mindfulness," in which practitioners seek to improve their ability to concentrate and to be non-judgmentally aware of their thoughts and feelings. By registering, you may receive account related information, our email newsletters and product updates, no more than twice a month. By subscribing, you will receive our email newsletters and product updates, no more than twice a month. A few years later, Dr Nirmala Kajaria from the Brahma Kumaris in India was asked to base herself in Sydney as the BK senior teacher, while the young traveller went to South America to start BK Centres.

It’s such an easy trap — to fall into acting from that mask rather than a fuller experience of my being. It’s more a contrived act than something springing from a fresh, alive connection to my feelings in that moment about the person and the situation.
It makes my ego feel good to think I’m strong and capable, someone who can step in and be of help. As much as it wants to see itself as the proverbial cavalry riding in to save the day, it’s not the most helpful way to see things. I first came across it over ten years ago, but it’s only now that it’s starting to sink in what he meant. Her work includes leading classes in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in the Boston area, and coaching individual clients through life transitions -- from anywhere in the world via phone and Skype. Although derived from ancient Tibetan Buddhist practices, the CBCT program is secular in content and presentation. While CBCT includes these mindfulness elements, the practice focuses more specifically on training people to analyze and reinterpret their relationships with others. Another new BK student returned home from London and opened a second centre in Collingwood, Melbourne. To put it in the worst terms, I suppose it’s like the compassion gets a bit institutionalized.
She hadn’t said much the whole weekend, and I knew that she too was struggling with her demons about taking a stand and openly being herself in front of others. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just be a human being, here to share the fullness of who I am. True presence and real communication can sometimes be pretty gritty and unpleasant, but that doesn’t make it unspiritual. We have been providing some financial assistance to them for the past 8 years and this will be our first meeting. One “secret” I shared with the group was how I wanted to be a singer, and to have the courage to perform publicly.

It’s when I stop trying so hard to be something I’m not that something genuine pops up out of nowhere. This boost in empathic accuracy was detected through both behavioral testing of the study participants and through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of their brain activity.
Sunada flips that idea on its head — that it may be just as important to be vulnerable as it is to be strong, and to receive as it is to give.
An example is giving spare change to a homeless person because I had decided that I’m going to be kind to a homeless person today. A Near Enemy is something that sort of looks like the real thing, but isn’t on closer examination.
But the Buddha always taught that it’s not the action that counts, but the true motivation behind it. Well of course, it’s impossible to say that to a group like this without getting prodded into singing before the weekend was through.
Am I using my kind acts as a way to make myself feel better and compensate for all the icky stuff inside that I don’t want to deal with? In other words, it’s only when we can bring the whole of ourselves forward to meet someone that a real connection takes place. For that one moment, I felt a strong connection with her because something real in me touched something real in her. But of course, everyone gave me a big round of applause and kudos, because this was SUCH a supportive group.

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