Heart Practices: Brahmaviharas and Bodhicitta

Course Description

In this course, Tina Rasmussen provides in-depth material on the “Heart Practices” category of meditation, which includes the Brahmaviharas and Bodhicitta, and teaches meditation practices to cultivate them. The Brahmaviharas are the “divine abodes of the heart” or skillful virtues, found in both Theravada and Tibetan Buddhism, known as Four Immeasurables in the latter. Bodhicitta is the Tibetan Buddhist practice of feeling our heart’s aspiration for awakening for our own benefit and for the benefit of all beings. The Heart Practices are often overlooked, marginalized, or taught in a superficial way as “mantras” or as something we do for others. But they are crucial for our own unfoldment and are as serious and robust practices as the other categories: Focused Attention (Samatha), Open Monitoring (Vipassana), and Self-Transcending (Dzogchen). These “Purification of the Heart” practices work our consciousness in a way that none of the other categories do, helping us to digest personality material that is universal and is an obstacle to our unfoldment and awakening. They also provide a way of orienting to life and to relating to ourselves and others from an “unhindered heart” that responds naturally to any human situation. In addition, these practices can be leveraged in difficult times, like the ones we are facing these days, individually and collectively.

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Course Lessons

1. Bodhicitta Practice Overview

In this lesson, Tina provides an overview of the heart-based practices of Bodhicitta. She starts with setting the larger context for meditation practice and provides an overview and meaning of Bodhicitta and Bodhisattva ideals.

2. Guided Bodhicitta Meditation

In this session, Tina provides meditation instructions and conducts a guided meditation session on the Bodhicitta practice.

3. Brahmaviharas Practices Overview

In this lesson, Tina provides an overview of the heart-based practices of Brahmaviharas and details the crucial role they play in our practice and unfoldment on the journey of awakening. She provides an overview of the main virtues being developed and discusses how the Brahmaviharas have been superficialized in some modern teachings.

4. Reasons to Practice Brahmaviharas

In this lesson, Tina discusses the four reasons to practice the Brahmaviharas, including softening our personality, purification of the heart, orienting to daily situations, and developing concentration. She also introduces the Brahmaviharas Practice chart that is downloadable on the course page to guide our practice.

5. Brahmaviharas Practice of Metta

In this lesson, Tina provides an overview of the first Brahmaviharas practice of Metta or Loving-kindness. She covers topics of the “layers of the onion” that form the entirety of the practice, the object of meditation, our intention, how to use phrases and eventually drop them, and the categories of beings to leverage for practice purposes. She concludes by clarifying several misperceptions about the practice that are commonly taught in modern times.

6. Metta Meditation Details

In this lesson, Tina continues with additional instructions and pointers for the Metta practice. She discusses details of the practice, including the “proximate cause,” “near enemy” and “far enemy,” and how to work with a difficult person as an object of meditation.

7. Guided Metta Meditation

In this session, Tina conducts a guided meditation session on the Metta practice.

8. Brahmaviharas – Samatha, Concentration, and Jhanas

In this lesson, Tina discusses the relation of the Brahmaviharas to concentration (Samatha) practice. She describes ways the object of the Brahmaviharas practice leads to the different levels of concentration and provides a detailed explanation of them. Tina concludes with instructions on how to work with the object of the Brahmaviharas practices to develop concentration.

9. Working with Hindrances and Defilements

In this lesson, Tina covers the hindrances and defilements that may arise during our practice. She discusses different ways hindrances and defilements can arise in the Brahmaviharas, provides a range of antidotes and ways of working with them, and concludes with topics of sleepiness and the “sinking mind.”

10. Brahmaviharas Practice of Karuna

In this lesson, Tina provides an overview of the second Brahmaviharas practice of Karuna or Compassion. She covers elements that form the entirety of the practice, including the object of attention, what gets cultivated in Karuna, our intention, how to use phrases, and the categories of beings to leverage for practice purposes. Tina describes how the practice of Karuna differs from Tibetan Tonglen practice and concludes with the topics of near and far enemies of the Karuna practice.

11. Guided Karuna Meditation

In this session, Tina conducts a guided meditation session on the Karuna practice.

12. Brahmaviharas Practice of Mudita

In this lesson, Tina provides an overview of the third Brahmaviharas practice of Mudita or Empathetic Joy. She covers elements that form the entirety of the practice, including the object of attention, what gets cultivated in Mudita, our intention, how to use phrases, and the categories of beings to leverage for practice purposes. Tina describes how the practice of Mudita works in tandem with the Karuna practice and concludes with the topics of near and far enemies of the Mudita practice.

13. Guided Mudita Meditation

In this session, Tina conducts a guided meditation session on the Mudita practice.

14. Brahmaviharas Practice of Upekkha

In this lesson, Tina provides an overview of the fourth Brahmaviharas practice of Upekkha or Equanimity. She covers elements that form the entirety of the practice, including the object of attention, what gets cultivated in Upekkha, our intention, how to use phrases, and the categories of beings to leverage for practice purposes. Tina describes why Upekkha is the most difficult of the Brahmaviharas and concludes with the topics of near and far enemies of the Upekkha practice.

15. Guided Upekkha Meditation

In this session, Tina conducts a guided meditation session on the Upekkha practice.

16. Integrated Practice of Brahmaviharas

In this lesson, Tina discusses the benefits of using the Brahmaviharas as an integrated set of practices rather than using them individually. She shares the Buddha’s teaching on the benefits of the Brahmaviharas and talks about the meaning of an unrestricted heart and how the practices lead to cultivating it. Tina concludes with a range of resistances that may arise in our practice of the Brahmaviharas and discusses ways we can overcome them.

17. Practice of Forgiveness

In this session, Tina describes three types of Forgiveness practices, provides the instructions for practicing them, and conducts guided meditation sessions on Forgiveness.

18. Brahmaviharas and Daily Practice

In this lesson, Tina provides instructions on establishing the Brahmaviharas as daily practices and discusses ways to use them in conjunction with other meditation practices. She concludes with instructions and an explanation of the meaning of Dedication of Merit.

Tina Rasmussen

Tina Rasmussen

Tina Rasmussen is a meditation teacher who leads retreats and offers spiritual guidance and mentoring to practitioners worldwide. Her mission as a teacher is to foster awakening and its embodiment in worldly life through the application of authentic, rigorous Buddhist and modern practices.

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