Wise Understanding being the first step in the Eightfold Path. Ask yourself what is your intention for this class? What unmet need is asking to be fulfilled? Is it to physically heal? Rebalance your energy? To support your mental-emotional health? To reconnect to spirit? To learn new things, learn about yourself and practice with new tools? This will inform your intention for this practice.
The second step in the Eightfold Path is Wise Intention. Intensions guide us along the path we walk in our lives like guard rails reminding us of what is truly important in our lives and a deep calling from our soul’s longing to fulfil a purpose as we move forward in our daily lives. Practicing this way develops the ability to create positive and compassionate intentions, such as the desire to be kind, generous, and ethical towards ourselves and all beings. By cultivating these qualities, practitioners are encouraged to let go of negative thoughts and emotions, to develop empathy and compassion, and ultimately contribute to the well-being and happiness of all beings. In Buddhism to form intentions it is said that the practitioner nurture and grow the Four Bhahmaviharas within the heart.
These are The Four Brahmaviharas:
- Metta (loving-kindness): (Metta is Poly, Maitri is Sanskrit) This is the quality of unconditional love and friendliness towards oneself and others. It involves cultivating an attitude of benevolence, compassion, and goodwill towards all beings, regardless of their background, status, or behaviour.
- Karuna (compassion): This is the quality of empathy and compassion towards oneself and others who are suffering. It involves developing a deep sense of understanding and empathy towards the pain and suffering of others, and a willingness to take action to alleviate their suffering.
- Mudita (sympathetic joy): This is the quality of taking joy in the happiness and success of oneself and others. It involves cultivating an attitude of appreciation and delight towards the achievements and happiness of others, without any sense of jealousy or envy.
- Upeksha (equanimity): This is the quality of calmness, balance, and non-attachment towards oneself and others. It involves developing a sense of inner peace and equanimity in the face of changing circumstances, and a recognition of the impermanence and interdependence of all things.
Together, the Four Brahmaviharas are seen as a powerful means of cultivating a balanced, compassionate, and wise heart. From this place practitioners can truly declare intentions that stem from a loving peaceful and content place. Ask yourself, what do you need from this practice to restore you to a state of serenity, sanity and peace? Courage, strength, hope, tolerance, patience, acceptance, energy, creativity, joy, kindness, tenderness, love, peace, stillness?
Choose a word that is compassionate (Karuna) and kind (Metta) to your unmet needs, that you feel if fulfilled that joy (Mudita) and equanimity (Upeksha) is experienced. State your personal intention as you inhale and exhale mentally say ‘be with me’. This is to declare to your body, heart and mind what you feel you need from this practice to help you.
In the Yoga Sutras it points out though when you practice Yoga, you will find four common symptoms of suffering;
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1. Negative thinking,
2. emotional distress,
3. instability felt in the body,
4. disturbances within the breath that mirrors the mind.
Yoga Sutras are saying similar things to the four Bhramaviharas in how to approach suffering;
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- States to cultivate non-judgemental loving awareness,
In this practice we will use the personal intention you create as well as common Buddhist phrases to direct the words and their meaning to have a positive and compassionate impact on ourselves.
Here are the phrases we will use:
- (Your personal intention) be with me
- May I be safe, healthy, happy and live with ease
- May I be strong and vital
- May I know the natural Joy of being alive
- May I be free from inner and outer harm
- May I find peace in the midst of life’s greatest challenges
- May I accept myself just as I am
- May I know the truth of who and what I am
- May my heart and mind awake
- May I be free from fear
- May I reclaim my wholeness
- May I be held in the arms of the beloved/Grace/Loving Presence
- May I be filled, touched, held, know, offer by Loving Kindness