Am I being virtuous? Am I focusing on what is important? What follows are what I call my Seven Meditation Anchors. During times of relaxation (before bed, with morning coffee, or even when I think I need to relax–e.g. heavy traffic or when family has driven me to the limit). I use these 7 anchors to help me come back to what is important. Sometimes I focus on one of them, other times I meditate on each in turn. I rarely meditate for longer than 15 minutes.
For those familiar with Zen/Buddhism, four of these, Compassion, Love, Joy, Equanimity will have a vaguely familiar look…the Four Sublime States are a cornerstone of my anchors. They are what I call the spiritual/emotional anchors. They speak to the cerebellum, the medulla, the spiritual/ancestral (limbic and reptillian) brain.
The remaining three, Understanding, Patience, and Persistence, I consider rational anchors. They speak to the cerebrum (Neocortex), or thinking brain. They elicit cause and effect, and help with the “why’s” of what to focus on.
So, here they are with a short description for each. Don’t worry, I will expand upon each in the upcoming days. (Rationals are blue, Spirituals are green)
- Compassion – is to feel the suffering of others.
- Understanding – is to put yourself into another’s mind, or into a situation and really think about what you would do
- Patience – is to understand that things take time, despite large amounts of effort
- Persistence – if things take time, then great effort is required over and over and over…
- Joy – is not just joy, but sympathetic joy. This is to revel in the good fortune of others…the opposite of envy
- Equanimity – is the ability to see things as they are, from a distance, to be the water and not the waves (see Passionate Equanimity)
- Love – as in Lovingkindness; this is love without possessing, without judging, without expecting it in return, it is to love as if a god
Note: You may be wondering why these are listed in this particular order. It’s a simple practical decision for me: it’s because in this order, they spell CUPP-JEL, which I can remember easily. None is more important than another, in my opinion (see last paragraph of my credentials here). You might choose to start with the “rationals” and finish with the “spirituals,” or vice versa (that would spell UPPJELC). For all I care, use PLUC-JEP.