Can We Be Kind to Ourselves? (Westside)
with Acharya Emily Bower
Many of us tend to judge ourselves harshly, or unfairly hold ourselves
to an unrealistic standard. Even those of us who have achieved success
may continue to be hard on ourselves. If we are always struggling with
our inner critic, how can we find joy in being alive, or extend
friendliness and kindness in our relationships?
One of the fundamental teachings of the Buddha is on the
power of discovering contentment here and now. How is this done?
Sitting in meditation is not enough. Many of us apply that same
familiar inner critic to our meditation technique, driving ourselves
and trying to achieve something. According to the Shambhala and many
other Buddhist schools, just being, accepting our experience right
now, is the highest spiritual achievement. From that state of openness
and gentleness, we can extend to our family, friends, colleagues,
other drivers on the road, animals, insects . . . to all beings, with
genuine curiosity and friendliness.
Emily Bower was appointed as an Acharya, or senior teacher, in the Shambhala Buddhist community by her teacher, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, in 2004. She has been an editor of Buddhist books (and books on many other topics) for 15 years. She worked closely with the Sakyong on his first book, TURNING THE MIND INTO AN ALLY, as well as on several other books, liturgies, and poems while serving in his office from 1998 to 2000. From 2000 through 2010, she worked full-time as an acquiring editor at Shambhala Publications, and she recently retired from that job in order to serve more fully as an acharya and to go on retreat. She started meditating at the Berkeley, California, Shambhala Center in 1987.