This guided meditation was recorded live at the SBA Practice Circle on October 22, 2017. If you’d like to learn more about why we developed this practice, and how you can join us at Practice Circle, you can read about it here.
I’m Mark Knickelbine from the Secular Buddhist Association, and this is the Benefactor Body Scan. This guided meditation was recorded live at the SBA Practice Circle. We developed this practice so that anyone can experience the body and receive it with kindness regardless of what your body might be like or how you feel about it. So for this practice you’re welcome to lay down on a mat or on your bed, or you can take a sitting posture that allows you to feel relaxed, upright, and alert. Close your eyes if that feels comfortable to you. And if you’re ready, we’ll begin.
[bell] [21 seconds silence]
Allowing the body to soften with each exhaled breath. And with that softening allowing the awareness to settle into the whole body. [8 seconds silence]
Feeling what’s here, right now. [1 minute 20 seconds silence]
Just allowing the awareness to sink into the whole body, sitting here or lying here. Perhaps feeling into the points of contact where your body is touching. And feeling how gravity is holding you gently to the earth. [2 minutes silence]
Now you can stay with this part of this practice as long as you like, until you feel perfectly comfortable and relaxed. Or you can join me with the next invitation.
Which is to bring to mind someone who has offered you unconditional love and acceptance. And this can be anybody. Someone who’s alive, or no longer alive. A parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle. Maybe a teacher. A friend. Maybe somebody you don’t even know or didn’t know that well but who still gave you a sense that they saw who you were, and they accept you fully just the way you are. It could be a pet or another animal, who are often so good at offering us unconditional love. If it helps, you can relate to a place in nature, a place that you’ve been where you felt that you were fully held and accepted. And if there’s never been a person in your life like that, maybe you can just imagine what somebody like that would be like. [10 seconds silence]
And try to bring this person or animal or place fully into your mind’s eye. Imagine them as clearly as you can. As if they’re sitting right across from you. Looking at you with a look of love on their face, their eyes shining with the acceptance and care that they have for you. [20 seconds silence]
And maybe this relationship you had with this individual wasn’t perfect, but all that matters right now is that sense of love and acceptance that they had for you. [8 seconds silence]
Bring this person into your awareness as clearly as you can. And notice what’s happening in the heart space as you do so. [10 seconds silence]
Allowing yourself to receive this unconditional love and acceptance. This person sees you. They know everything about you. They know the things that you try to hide from others and yourself. All the things you think are faults. They know all about it, and yet they accept you fully. They see through the surface details to your essential goodness. And you see their face is shining with love for you. And again noticing what’s happening in the heart space. As you attempt to connect with that source of unconditional love. [20 seconds silence]
And maybe if you’ve done this practice before, you can think of a time where you connected with that feeling of unconditional love, that metta, that kindness and friendliness. And maybe recalling that moment will help connect your heart to that benefactor energy, that unconditional compassion and acceptance. So spending a few moments right now to fully connect with that sense of warmth and kindness. [1 minute silence]
And if contemplating in this way is bringing forth a glow, a warmth, a sense of loving kindness, allow yourself to open to that feeling. Breathe into it. As if you could breathe on a hot coal, noticing it glowing brighter and brighter as you do so. Allow your breath to come into the heart space. Breathing into it and breathing out from it, and with every breath increasing that glow of tenderness and compassion. Feeling your benefactor’s love and kind regards inside. [25 seconds silence]
And if you don’t happen to be feeling that way, that’s alright. None of this practice is about having a certain kind of experience or following instructions. Just go back to your recollection of the person or animal, pet, place, that offered you unconditional love. And stay there as long as you need to. But if you are feeling that glow of warmth and tenderness, just accept it throughout your chest. [10 seconds silence]
Feel it radiate through your whole torso. Down into your belly. Just feeling that loving glow just as if it’s a light emanating from the center of your heart and filling up your whole body. [25 seconds silence]
Seeing if you can radiate that sense of love and acceptance. Now throughout your extremities. Through every part of your body. Feel that loving glow penetrate and permeate. [10 seconds silence]
Out to the edges of your skin. Through your whole body. Through your throat. Throughout your face and head. Feel that light of healing and love radiating freely. From the inside of your body out. Feel it radiating through your bones. [40 seconds silence]
And as you allow your awareness to pervade your body along with this loving energy, various things may arise for you. Perhaps there’s a place in your body that you don’t often allow your awareness to go to. [12 seconds silence]
And as with all of these practices, we’re proceeding from an attitude of self-care and self-compassion. So it’s okay not to open up anything that’s too traumatic or painful for you to spend some time with. And if things do ever feel like they might become overwhelming, remember that you can come back to the presence of your benefactor, to the presence of the one who gave you unconditional love. And know that you are loved completely. You’re accepted totally just the way you are. And then as you feel ready, going to those places. And breathing that loving kindness energy, that benefactor energy, that love and acceptance, breathing it right into the heart of those places. Letting that loving energy shine like a spotlight. It might be a place that is painful for you. That reminds you that your body doesn’t work the way you want it to. It might be a place that you’re ashamed of. Or a place that you feel alienated from. Maybe a place that someone’s tried to shame you about. It may be a place that you associate with sickness. Or embarrassment. Whatever it is, just allow that loving energy to shine right into the darkest place. And feel how that loving energy can hold everything. There isn’t anything about you or your experience that’s turned aside, that’s rejected. That loving energy has the capacity to hold and touch and heal everything.
So see if it’s possible to allow those places to accept that light. If there’s tension there, feeling them soften in the warmth of that light. Imagine that the difficult places in the body can be held and cradled in that perfect compassion and acceptance. And if this all gets too complex and amorphous, just come back to the heart space and feel that glow there. Or return to your benefactor, and just allow yourself to spend some time in that person’s loving presence. And then as you feel ready, allowing that loving awareness to enter the body once again. Filling the whole body. Right out to the edges of your skin. Feeling that glow and that warmth pervade every part of you. [40 seconds silence]
Accepting that loving warmth everywhere. Trusting it to go everywhere. Trusting it to find and heal whatever part of you needs healing. Just like a golden light, shining from your heart space and pervading your whole body. [30 seconds silence]
And again stay here as long as you like. This is for you. But if you care to, now imagine that that light can shine beyond the boundaries of your body. That it can spread out to touch the people who are living nearby you right now. That it can touch them. And fill their hearts with loving kindness. Imagine that energy radiating from your heart and filling your whole town. Filling the state or region that you live in. Touching the whole country. And the whole world. Especially people who are suffering tonight. People who could really use to be touched by the light of compassion and unconditional love. Imagine that light shining from your heart can touch them. And help to lift their hearts as well. [10 seconds silence]
And just extending that light as far as you care to in your imagination. Touching all living beings everywhere. Connecting us all with the love and unconditional acceptance that we can all share. [20 seconds silence]
And now in the final moments of our practice together, taking a deep breath. And on the exhaled breath let everything go. Let the visualizations go. Let any effort to meditate go. And just allow the body and the mind and the heart to rest in this space. Letting everything be and unwind just the way it wants to. [1 minute 20 seconds silence]
A special thanks to Canada’s Joshua Goldberg of transbuddhists.org for, “…help[ing to] make the recording more accessible to people who are Deaf/HH or otherwise want a transcript to use…,” by transcribing this audio gratis.