Heart cultivation practice is a mindfulness technique that acknowledges everyone in your periphery, but does not focus on the mutual judgements and expectations you have for each other.
The greatest challenge to misunderstanding yourself is navigating interpersonal relationships. If, as Sartre said, “Hell is other people,” then how can we escape that hell? Sartre did not literally mean that other people are poisonous villains; He meant that much of our understanding of ourselves comes from the knowledge that other people already have of us.
Our interactions with friends, strangers and coworkers creates parameters for how we are judged. In turn, we judge ourselves by the same criteria. If we can escape this judgement and stop allowing other people’s perceptions to be the dogmatic definition of ourselves, we achieve a sense of peace and a deeper understanding of ourselves.
Exercise the four qualities of the heart with heart cultivation meditation. It’s a strategy for managing difficult emotional times, but is most beneficial as part of a regular practice.
The Four Qualities of the Heart
Loving Kindness (metta)
Sympathetic Joy (mudita)
Download the Heart Cultivation Meditation instructions to create your own guided meditation.