February 18, 2014

Meditation Month: You Can Only Do So Much

Day eighteen of our monthlong challengeJoanna Piacenza

February is Meditation Month! The Tricycle team members have challenged ourselves—and our readers—to meditate every day and blog about our experiences. We needed a little help, so we called in bestselling author and meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg to lead our meditation-themed retreat this month and speak to us on how to incorporate meditation practice into the workplace. We’re also featuring three meditation e-books: Tricycle Teachings: MeditationTricycle Teachings: Meditation, Vol. 2, and Tricycle Teachings: Commit to Sit. Last but certainly not least, back by popular demand is Brad Warner, known this month as our Meditation Doctor, here to answer any questions we have about our personal practice.

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Tricycle is providing lots of meditation inspiration this month (retreats, podcasts, articles, posts) but the writing that resonated the most with me was this excerpt from Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s new book, Meditations 6: Dhamma Talks

Right from the start, the blog post brings up one of the surface hesitancies I had when I first started dabbling in Buddhism: passivity. How much good are we doing for others by simply sitting? Shouldn’t we be actively doing something to help others?

I say “surface” because the deeper you dig into Buddhism, the more you understand how bettering yourself benefits others. Here’s an especially poignant excerpt from Than. Bhikkhu:

Happiness is something that has to come from within. It’s based on being skillful in the way you act, which includes not only your physical actions, but also your speech and the actions of your mind—and in particular, the act of intention….To formulate intentions that really do lead to happiness is a skill. And because it’s a skill, nobody else can master the skill for you; you can’t master the skill for anyone else.

This last sentence resonated very heavily with me, as someone who tends to over-sympathize and bring “caretaking” to a whole new (read: inappropriate and unhealthy) level with loved ones. The larger lesson I've learned from this week of meditation, with the help of Than. Bhikkhu's post, is: when it comes to making others happy, you can only do so much. Step away, balance, breathe.

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jennifer.stefani's picture

Yes! Thank you to Thanissaro Bhikkhu for pithy dhamma teaching. This teaching resonated with me, too, in the same way. In another place I heard him say that hurting someone's feelings is not the same as doing them harm--another thing I sometimes get mixed up about! Sometimes saying no is a skillful thing to do, even if it is disappointing to someone else.