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Melli O'Brien



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Inviting Mara to Tea

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness.

Today I'm going to talk about how

we can embrace our shadow side

with kindness and compassion.

So there's actually an

old parable about this.

And the story goes that when the

Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree and

meditated on the night that he was

to become enlightened, the god Mara

slung arrows at him all night long.

Now Mara is essentially

the god of our shadow self.

And so his arrows were all of the

unconscious thoughts, emotions

and impulses of the Buddha.

These included lust, jealousy,

fear, shame, rage, and self doubt.

And with each arrow that was slung

towards him, the Buddha brought

awareness and compassion to it.

And when received by this

compassionate awareness, each arrow

dissolved and fell to the ground.

Even after enlightenment, Mara,

the god the other monks called the

Evil One, continued to show up and

visit the Buddha from time to time.

Sometimes when the Buddha was

teaching, Mara would sneak

around the back of the crowd.

And although the monks would start to

get really nervous or try to get rid of

Mara, the Buddha's response to Mara's

presence always remained the same.

Warm, compassionate, kind.

He would always say, hello, Mara.

I see you.

Then he would invite Mara

to tea as his honored guest.

So he offered Mara a

nice, comfortable seat.

The Buddha would sit down beside him,

fill two cups with tea and sit with Mara.

And Mara would stay for a

while and then he would leave.

But throughout the whole visit, the

Buddha remained undisturbed and content.

So when Mara visits us in the form of

fear, self-loathing, troubling thoughts,

difficult feelings or impulses, we

too can meet those impulses, those

thoughts, those feelings in the same way.

In that spirit of, I see you Mara.

In other words, we can meet what we

might call our shadow material with

awareness, acceptance, and compassion.

We can recognize our hurts and

fears and hold what we're seeing

in the warm embrace of kindness.

So often we react to our shadow by

pushing it away, trying to escape it,

or often by pretending there is no

darkness inside of us, but that pretending

only makes it more deeply entrenched.

Mindfulness is really about learning

to see, befriend and accept all of

ourselves, even at the most subtle levels.

And when we befriend ourselves,

we bring what was in the shadow

into the light of awareness.

Then we're not taken over by our shadow

and we can work with it more skillfully.

As the old saying goes,

the seeing is freeing.

So today's invitation.

Rather than resisting or denying

the difficult or shadowy parts of

yourself, see if you can gently meet

them with awareness and compassion.

We're going to explore this theme a

little bit more in today's meditation.

So I invite you to begin

to settle in for that.

And as always, thank you for your

practice and your presence here with us.

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