Elements, Emotions, Awareness and Transformation

We live in a very colorful world, full of intense emotions, preconceptions, doubts, insights, sanity and confusion. Maitri practice locates itself right in the middle of this swirling world and invites us to see within all this the path to liberation.

Maitri practice is based on a series of five postures, which are connected with five emotional patterns, five wisdoms, five elements, five colors, and so on. These five fundamental energies manifest in every aspect of our experience from the microcosmic to the macrocosmic. They manifest in the ordinary experiences of our everyday lives. So one thing that is really great about maitri practice is that it is not approached as some kind of exotic or esoteric exercise, but based on regular nitty-gritty experience.

The core principle behind maitri space awareness practice is that of transmutation, the idea that we can transform our neuroses into wisdom. It is based on awareness, on having the courage to look at our own emotional styles. It is based on maitri, on learning to be more kind to ourselves and less fearful of our flaws. And it is based on openness, on our willingness to rest within uncompromising immoveable space.

Maitri space awareness practice is a way to deepen our understanding of what is called the “five buddha-family mandala.” However, although this practice is based on tantric teachings, from the time it was first introduced to our community in 1973, it has been open to beginners. At the same time, it is a powerful way for seasoned practitioners to gain a deeper, more visceral feel for the qualities of the five families.

This coming February Lanny Harrrison and I are scheduled to lead a weekend on Maitri Space Awareness Practice at the NYC Shambhala Center. What I love about this practice is that it works directly with our core emotional, physical, and mental patterns, and finds within them the possibility of wisdom. It does so, not by relying on an intellectual or theoretical understanding, but by challenging us to look directly at the nature of our immediate experience.