The Four Immeasurables

From the Desk of Pierre Zimmerman, MS


I wanted to share with you four intentions that are part of lay Buddhist practice to better be connected with others and share our deepest humanity. During the summer we tend to gather and visit friends, families and acquaintances and these intentions always come in handy in small or large groups.
Loving kindness is love with no strings attached or any particular agenda, just the pure, innocent wish for others and oneself to be content.
Compassion is the highest spiritual ideal of wishing other sentient beings to be free from suffering. The Tibetan word for compassion means “king of hearts.”
Sympathetic joy is experiencing happiness for someone else’s contentment, well being, successes and good fortune.
Equanimity is staying calm and centered, no matter what life throws at us; pleasure and pain, success and failure, praise and blame, fame and disrepute. It lets us relate in a deep way with friends, relatives and strangers.
Each of the four immeasurable has an opposite:
For loving kindness it is ill will or harmful intent,
For compassion it is cruelty,
For sympathetic joy it is envy or jealousy, and
For equanimity it is greed, aversion, prejudice.
Setting these four intentions sustains our energy and purpose to live in alignment with our best aspirations and wishes for ourselves and others. May it be so!

Let’s Choose Love

By Pierre Zimmerman, M.S.

February usually reminds us of cold days and nights, school vacations to warm far away places for some, stuffy noses and red cheeks for those who stay here, and Valentine’s Day celebrations with roses and delicious chocolate. This winter season so far has missed the mark for whiteouts in our area bringing joy to some and disappointment to others. This heart image-2might change by the end of February, as the weather is just as unpredictable as everything else: the economy, gas prices, job security, health narratives and romantic love. Beacons of certainty are hard to come by.

No matter what change affects us in the short run or long run, how we relate to it always gives us the option to look at things with an open mind and heart. So I say let’s choose love, reigniting the embers of the smoldering fire within us, being kind to ourselves, loving others with all their differences and diversity.

We are hard wired to be kind, and we long for connection and intimate affection. We are born with a strong biological predisposition for caring. Positive emotions like love, joy and playfulness are beneficial to our health and strengthen our immune system because our well being depends on our inner happiness, not just on external things. Our usual menu of worries, frustrations, hopes and fears keep us focused on petty concerns. Selflessness, kind wishes and altruistic acts, large or small are antidotes to loneliness. When we offer non-biased compassion and realize our shared humanity, we too benefit from feeling love and contentment.


Pierre Zimmerman is Director of One Big Roof, Center for Mindful Practices and teaches in our Saratoga Stress Reduction Program.

Finding Peace Of Mind in Challenging Times


By Pierre Zimmerman, M.S.
In the face of hate, ignorance and cruelty we can build stronger communities of service and compassion with small acts of kindness toward each other, realizing how precious this rare Pierre Zimmerman Director One Big Rooflife of ours is. We can see the gifts and skills of people, rather than their shortcomings; experience more spaciousness in our views of others; let go of solid opinions and sense the inherent goodness that lies at the heart of our diverse circles of being. We can give fearlessness by eliminating our habitual, unwholesome thoughts and planting seeds of kindness, looking upon others with soft eyes and suspending hateful narratives and judgments.
A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson about how he felt about the tragedy of September 11th. He said, “I feel as I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is vengeful, angry and violent. The other is loving, forgiving, compassionate.”
The grandson asked him, “Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?”
Grandfather responded: “The one I feed.”
Wishing you all a New Year filled with peace and loving kindness,  Pierre
A full article by Pierre appears in the January 2016 issue of Natural Awakenings magazine at this link

A Lesson in Mindfulness

The Blog I Didn’t Write By Mary Kathryn Jablonski

Like so many in our beautiful small town, I knew Mana Behan for over 20 years. She made me feel special. She made me feel chosen, and at the same time empowered. But this is not my story; this is the story of hundreds who knew her. This was her gift to all who knew her. These were the words that echoed across Saratoga: compassionate, maternal, authentic, and real. After Mana died, the Universe began testing me, and I found myself asking, What would Mana do? over and over. What I wanted to say after Mana Behan died, I held in, which she would never have done. So here I am rewriting the blog about Mana’s passing on her Birthday.

Mana BehanI met Mana at the Wellness Alliance in the Arcade Building on Broadway and followed her from yoga studio to yoga studio for her Yoga of the Aware Heart. She focused, through yoga, on opening the heart. No small task. Recently, here in the office at One Roof where I work, she’d greet me with a loving touch. She would give me torn scraps of papers that she’d probably used as bookmarks, with quotes on them, some Buddhist, some not. She gave me tea. She gave me suggestions, always in the form of questions: What would it look like if…  

The last time I saw her here in our offices, I was struggling with our website. A glitch would not allow me to upload a new practitioner’s photo. On my third try, refreshing the page, I was becoming more than frustrated. In came elfin Mana. She said, “Maybe this means you should step away from it for awhile,” in language not unlike Yodda’s.

“No!” I fumed, “I’ve got to figure this out!” I shot lasers of hate at the computer screen in hopes of completing the upload. Of course this did not help, and Mana floated out of the room, as I picked up the phone to call our web hosting company.

Fifteen minutes later Mana stood across from me at my desk, bent over deeply, and pounded her palm against the wood like a judge with a gavel. She shouted, “Look at me!” I jumped, and looked up to find myself nose to nose with her, staring at her blue eyes, which suddenly softened into a gentle smile. “Kiss me!” she demanded, and before I knew it she planted one on me and disappeared. I was weak with love. That was the last time I saw her.