Lately, I’ve been wondering what would be on my personal list of top five practices (all tied for first place). You might ask yourself the same question, knowing that you can cluster related practices under a single umbrella, your list may differ from mine, and your practices may change over time.
One of top five is bless, which means see what’s tender and beautiful, and wish well. (For some, this word has religious connotations, but I’m not using it that way.) Blessing includes compassion, kindness, appreciating, honoring, non-harming, warmth, cherishing, and love; you can see I’m using this word broadly. It’s leaning toward pain rather than away, helping rather than harming, giving rather than withholding, opening and extending rather than closing and contracting, wishing well rather than ill, delighting in rather than finding fault. You can bless others, the world, and yourself – and any parts of any of these.
Blessing is obviously good for others and the world, and that’s plenty reason to offer it. As a bonus, it’s also good for you. It strengthens gratitude and gladness, opens your heart, deepens connection, and tends to evoke good treatment from others. You experience people and the world as blessed rather than threatening, disappointing, or rejecting. By blessing, you feel blessed.
Deliberately feel warmly toward someone while wishing him or her well – that he or she not suffer, and be truly happy. Also be aware of a benevolence toward others, looking for good things in them. Use this to know what the act and the attitude of blessing feels like, and to take in the experience of it so you can call upon it in the future.
To bless someone, see their goodness, efforts, hopes, suffering, and what’s neat about them. Let yourself be touched, moving past the idea and the should of blessing to the experience itself. Feel a warmth, a kindness. You can express good wishes with actions – a touch, a door opened, a charitable gift – or words (e.g., “may you be at peace, may you be loved”), or inside your heart alone.
Blessing means not harming, hurting, criticizing, or dismissing; if any of these is present, blessing isn’t. Don’t let blessing feed a subtle superiority, the bless-er who is better than the bless-ee.
Let others be who they are, and don’t presume you know what they need. In the moment of true blessing, there’s little if any sense of self, of I-me-mine. You bless for them, not for yourself.
Bless people you know, and also bless strangers. It’s powerful to look at someone passing on the street, get a sense of the person, and then wish him or her well. See what happens when you bless people who have really helped you, friends and family, even people who are difficult for you. See what it’s like to deliberately offer compassion, kindness, prizing, or love.
You can also bless parts of yourself – your pain, your darkness, your light – as well as yourself as a whole.
Do blessing deliberately. And over time, be blessing. It becomes where you come from, your ground and natural inclination.
You can be pressed and stressed and still bless. Find your warmth and good wishes amidst the mental clutter, like hearing wind chimes outside amidst storm and rain. But also take care of yourself. It’s hard to bless if you feel bad. Blessing does not mean approving; you can wish people well while also disengaging from them.
Fundamentally, blessing means treating another person as a “thou” not an “it,” not a means to your ends. Think of “thou” as a verb. To bless people is to thou them.
Rick Hanson is a psychologist and author of four books, including the best-selling Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence. His latest book is Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness.
This article appeared in one of Rick Hanson’s recent newsletters, Just One Thing. Thanks to www.RickHanson.net for permission to repost it - and you can read more of his writings there.
When the heart awakens to love, it can carry the human being beyond the horizon of the ego.
You can’t have the life you want without letting go of the life you have
Coming to Peace with All that Arises in Everyday Life
Love is the highest and most precious "asset" of human existence.
Jul 16–19, 2020
Family Constellation can be understood as a mindfulness practice.
The path to transcendence is through compassion and through compassion one is led to oneness
The “awe-full” qualities of horror and terror may share essential roots with those underlying transformative states such as flow, awe, presence, timelessness and ecstasy.
Cognition, or mind, is the very process of life itself, which requires neither a brain nor a nervous system
Consciousness, rather than matter, is the basis of all reality.
Jean Houston in conversation with the audience
The journey into authentic nondual experience usually entails an ongoing experience of paradox
There is a profound and painful sense of disconnection in humanity.
Please enter your email and we’ll send you instructions to reset your password