Breen leads Mystic Heart in Week Three

Compassion has followed Lena Breen throughout her career. As Week Three’s Mystic Heart meditation leader, she will focus on practicing and teaching Mettā — or loving-kindness — meditation.

The Mystic Heart Program is an initiative of the Department of Religion and was founded 13 years ago by Subagh Singh Khalsa. The program aims to share meditation techniques from different world religions and wisdom traditions.

The morning meditations will be held from 7:15 to 8 a.m. weekdays at the Main Gate Welcome Center. Seminars will be held from 12:30 to 1:55 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. Silent meditation will also be held from 7:15 to 7:45 p.m. Thursday at the Main Gate Welcome Center.

A former Unitarian Universalist minister, Breen’s primary focus is vipassanā meditation, also known as insight meditation.

“The emphasis of vipassanā is creating and cultivating more compassion for not only oneself but creating compassion for everyone,” Breen said. “That works very nicely with the theme of this week on emancipation, and it also works very nicely for me. Compassion has been one of the main forces in my life.”

Breen also studies Kripalu yoga, which, she noted, translates to “compassion.”

In vipassanā, the practitioner tries to clear his or her mind and focuses on breathing, Breen said. It brings awareness of one’s mind and body in the present moment.

Vipassanā has a component called Mettā meditation, which uses repeated words and phrases to promote love for oneself and compassion toward others. The morning meditation sessions and the afternoon seminars will be mostly Mettā meditation. Each seminar will be split into five phases, beginning with a focus on loving oneself and then on developing a love of all things and having compassion for people who are difficult to get along with.

If people could take anything away from the Week Three meditation sessions and seminars, Breen would have it be the basics of Mettā meditation and the phrases she will teach and apply during meditation: “May you be free of danger,” “May you have mental happiness,” “May you have physical happiness” and “May you have ease and well-being.”

Breen hopes that she will be able to work with children and families at the Institution. She has taught meditation to many kinds of people, including youth, seniors, physically handicapped children and adults and incarcerated populations.

“I just think [meditation] is for everybody,” she said.