Day 25 of 30: Just Like Me
Your journey of self-discovery has some surprising twists and turns.
One of them may have been a moment in which you realized, maybe more clearly than ever before, “My thoughts are all over the place, jumping from one place to the next.”
Self-understanding is a foundation for being in relationship with others. Your emotional life sends subtle or sometimes powerful messages about what is important to you. You want connection, acceptance, understanding, community, compassion, growth, excitement, fun, et cetera. Notice how many of these needs are either relational by nature or often are enhanced by accompaniment with other people.
Meditation may sometimes be done in solitude, but it is relational by nature, either relating to your sensations, thoughts & emotions, or purposeful reflections on interactions with others. These practices cultivate skills for being in relationship with others.
What may start to happen in your day-to-day life at this point is you’ll see other people make choices and you’ll begin to say “Just like me … they want support.” “Just like me … they are longing for acceptance.” “Just like me … they are wishing for fun.” Whatever their needs might be.
With a richer understanding of your needs and as fuel for feelings and thoughts, the choices and actions of others that may have been a source of frustration or annoyance in the past are more understandable now. You may start to bring more understanding, patience, and compassion. You may notice a shift out of your focus on the impact of the other person’s actions on you, into more exploration of what it may be like to be them.
You may notice that you start drawing some analogies between someone else’s behavior in the moment and some of your tendencies: “I notice that they are interrupting the conversation. Maybe they are longing for understanding & acceptance. I do that sometimes too when I want understanding & acceptance.”
A wonderful effect is that when you get to a guess about what the other person’s motivations, you may notice that you soften. The frustration and irritations dissolve or at least lessen in their intensity. “Just like me”, you say to yourself, “they do things – not to irritate or annoy me – in attempts to meet need.” Their actions may impede your contentment in some ways – in those cases, your guess about there being reasonable intentions behind them can be a good staring point for a respectful discussion about how both you and the other person may support each other in getting your needs met.
The invitation to you is to do a little prep before your meditation practice today. If you’re up for it, think of a recent experience in which you felt frustration or irritation with another person’s behavior. Please select an experience in which the intensity of the irritation or frustration was low to moderate.
- Once you have selected one specific recent experience of irritation or frustration, set your timer and then practice calm focus meditation until you notice your concentration deepens.
- When you notice a shift into a more calm focused state, please direct your awareness to remembering the recent experience in which you felt irritation or frustration. As you imagine the situation, please pay careful attention to what you observed the other person doing. Once you have clarity on what the other person was doing, now discern the thoughts that you had about what the other person was doing. Notice the difference between what you saw and heard the other person doing versus all of the thoughts you had about those actions. The difference is pretty interesting, yes?
- Continue to imagine in as much detail as possible until the feelings of irritation or frustration arise again in you now.
- As you notice the feelings of irritation or frustration, first say “Hello” to them. Welcome them.
- After greeting the irritation or frustration, rest your attention on your bodily sensations for a few minutes. Where do you feel them in your body? What are the felt senses of these feelings? Do you notice any shift in the feelings over time as you pay attention to them?
- Silently ask the feelings, “What do you have to tell me?”
- After sitting with these feelings for a few minutes, please turn your attention to watching your thoughts. Please don’t give any one thought energy by pursuing it. A thought arises, notice it, and then let it go.
- After a few minutes observing your thoughts, the invitation is to direct your thoughts to a guided exploration of what it may be like to be the other person:
a) Make a guess as to what the motivations are for their actions. As you make these guesses, hold them lightly. They are only guesses. You may try different ones until you settle on a few that feel right to you.
b) Do you have those motivations too? If so, silently say “Just like me, they are needing ______ ” and fill in the blank with your guesses.
c) Make a guess as to how the other person is feeling in this situation. Similar to the needs, hold them lightly and try on some before settling on a few likely candidates.
d) Do you have those feelings too. If so, silently say “Just like me, they are feeling ________” and fill in the blank with your guesses.
- As time permits, once you have completed the explorations above, return to resting your awareness on the felt sensations of your belly while breathing.
After today’s practice, the invitation is to reflect on what you noticed when you made guesses about the other person’s needs and feelings. What did you notice? What if you have the opportunity to check with the other person and your guesses were not 100% accurate? Is it necessary to guess correctly? What is the value of simply orienting towards understanding & connection rather than fueling your irritation or frustration? What might get in the way of orienting towards understanding the other person? How may a systematic practice ‘on the cushion’ help prepare you for those situations?
If you’d like, please offer what you learned about how others are ‘just like you’ in today’s practice by sharing in the comments below. Please raise awareness of this content by sharing it using the social media icons adjacent to it. Please reach out to me if I can support you.
See you tomorrow!
3 Tips For Meditating When Your Mind Is Busy Something that becomes clear with a regular daily meditation practice is that every day is different. People who have been meditating for decades still encounter days when they sit down to meditate and the challenge is...
Periodically it will be helpful to turn to a reminder of why are you choosing to invest in meditation. Here is a partial list of benefits…