We also bid farewell to Ram Dass, beloved teacher, yogi, counterculture icon, and Be Here Now author. He was 88.

With his guru, Indian teacher sadhu Neem Karoli Baba in the background

“Ram Dass was always loving, but now he is love.” -Mirabai Bush

May wisdom guide you in navigating this one wild and precious life through its 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows.

8thC Indian teacher Shantideva’s famous questions: 

”Why be unhappy about something if it can be remedied. And what is the use of being unhappy if it cannot be remedied.”

Receiving a bag of candy before a test means better score?

I continue to focus on the practice of Loving Kindness (LK). Presence of positive emotions not only feels good but makes us more creative – according to researchers. “The form of positive emotions is that they open us and the function of them is that they improve us, we become more creative.”

A researcher did some testing of creativity using graduate school admissions tests and found, if people were given a bag of candy before the test, they scored higher. Unfortunately these tests are no longer used for admissions!

What if practicing loving kindness changes our negative thought patterns? There is now solid scientific research that proves the utility of this practice.

Barbara Fredrickson, of UNC Chapel Hill, one of the top positive emotions researchers, has taken to practicing LK and she had this to say: “Positive emotions broaden our awareness – they literally expand our peripheral vision. Just as a waterlily opens with the sunrise and closes at sundown, our mind opens and closes with the presence of even, mild, positive emotions.  So why does this momentary opening of awareness have consequence for us? An accumulation of moments of broadened awareness, changes who we are and helps us to become better versions of ourselves.”

Loving kindness practice is the practice of wishing goodwill towards oneself and towards someone else. We don’t even have to have feelings of love or kindness. Having the hint of the wish inside – then giving an expression to our intention in thoughts or words. The intention is like a seed and then watering that seed with the water of some phrases and letting that wish grow and get stronger. The words must be meaningful to us so you can choose some phrases from the traditional words below.

Begin the compassion practice by taking a few deep breaths… then letting go of the control of the breath and bringing your attention from the breath to the area around your heart. You might consider placing a hand on your heart and saying these phrases:

May I be happy

May I be safe

May I be healthy

May I be peaceful

…Other words you might use such as

May I be filled with joy

May I be at ease

May I have physical well-being

May I have mental ease

May there be kindness

May I be at peace

Pick 4 phrases or so and then extend LK out to everyone in our inner circle and then expand it to others, then to all living things, including others that we may have difficulty with.

Ancient teaching is that, a difficult person in your life is your teacher. I have not been short of teachers since I started my practice earlier this year of sending loving kindness to a difficult person daily.

My intention for the coming year is to send LK wishes as soon as I feel judgement or negative feelings towards someone.

Here is an excerpt from an ancient poem or chant:

This is the work of those who are skilled and peaceful, who seek the good.
Wishing: May all beings be happy,
may they live in safety and joy.
All living beings, whether weak or strong, tall, stout, medium, or short, seen and unseen, near and distant, born or to-be-born
May they all be happy!

As we head into the new year, I will leave you with a celebration.

Celebrate (with a bow to Dr. Seuss) by Danna Faulds

Celebrate harmony, celebrate cheer, celebrate courage, and celebrate fear. Celebrate easy, celebrate stuck, celebrate nervousness, celebrate pluck. I think you are getting the simple idea that to celebrate everything is why you are here. So celebrate silence and celebrate noise, celebrate matter flowing in from the void. Wherever you are in your life as you read, celebrate freedom, abundance, and need- Because all of it’s Holy, the whole thing divine, so get on with enjoying – don’t waste any time!