24: Cultivate the Positive

metta bhavanaThe Sanskrit word for cultivation is Bhavana. This literally means to develop, produce, call into action or cultivate. It is often paired with other words such as citta-bhavana ( mind cultivation) or metta-bhavana ( development of loving kindness). Like we tend a garden, cultivating the soil and plants, and pulling out the weeks, bhavana is a practice that brings wholesome qualities into existence.

Qualities of the mind and heart may include; determination, love, patience, resilience, happiness, positive emotions, gratitude. Mostly these qualities are developed from our positive experiences in life therefore if we want to cultivate or bring about change we need to practice in a positive way. To make these qualities stick more to us we need to practice more often.

Here is a sweet practice for bhavana using gratitude as an example.

1) Notice during the day when you are grateful. It could be as simple as when you get lunch or step outside after a long day’s work.

2) Notice that this is such a fleeing feeling that you are soon off to the next thing. To transform this passing state into a trait you need to extend your experience of the feeling from 2-3 seconds to 30 seconds. Why are you grateful? What do you feel in your body and mind? How can you carry this experience a  bit longer?

3) To get this bhavana to stick try to do it 1/2 dozen times a day for 30 seconds. That is a total of 3 minutes and that is all your need to grow your garden.

Practice for today: Start to cultivate your garden by pulling out more weeds and planting some flowers. Negative feelings and states have a sticky tendency to them while positive experiences are more fleeting. Choose a qualitly to cultivate today that you would like to see in yourself. When we cultivate ourselves the garden can be enjoyed by everyone around us.

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