Monday, August 2, 2010

mindfulness and relationships

I read this quote today and thought of the importance of remaining mindfully present in the way we relate to others.

"What others think of us would be of little value did it not, when known, so deeply tinge what we think of ourselves."
- Paul Valery

Take some time today and reflect: The way we treat others is a mirror of the way we treat ourselves. If we are critical of others, in what way are we critical of ourselves? If we judge others how do we judge ourselves. If we put others down and ridicule them, how is it we do the same to ourselves?

You see it is so very easy to keep the focus on all that stuff out there: politics, religion, the environment, your mother-in-law, the kids, the president, our weight, the car we drive, getting others approval. This makes it very difficult to see that the source of our struggles resides is how we relate to ourselves.

Take some time each day to practice forgiveness, forgiveness towards our-selves. Give our-selves a break. Let our-selves be human and accept that we are who we are without criticism, judgment, or comparison. The more we accept ourselves as we are, the more we will do the same with others.

Watch how, as we learn to go lightly on ourselves we will begin to do the same with others.

Start with patience. Slow down and be more patient with yourself. Be realistic about what it is you expect to get done today. Pace yourself, and make some quiet time for yourself. Your life is unfolding just as it is. Are you going with it or fighting it because you want thing to go faster, get done sooner? Be patient with others around you. Remember they too are trying the best they can and are struggling with their own self judgments, criticisms, and fears. They don't need yours too!

Next practice openness. By openness I mean curiosity. Simply remain open to what is unfolding at any given moment. Whatever is occurring may or may not be what it is you want or think should be happening, none-the-less, it is happening any way. Watch how you try to control, resist, manipulate. By practicing openness, you can remain responsive to other people and you will find that your responses will add to what is occurring rather than fighting against it.

Finally practice compassion. There is a wonderful Zen saying:

"You are none other than me with a different name and a different face."

Practicing compassion when relating to others invites you to bring this awareness to better understanding and responding to others. Remembering this phrase allows you to keep from reacting to how other people may be thinking, feeling and/or reacting and respond with great compassion. Rather than needing to be right you can respond with "how can I help?"

As a final word. The wonderful thing about all this is that all we need to do is check in with ourselves. If we are agitated, angry, sad, disappointed, lonely, all we need to do is re-direct our awareness to what it is that the "out there" is touching "in here." Then it becomes easier. Rather that trying to do battle with, change, control, the others, life, we can focus our attention and energies where we can actually do something about our struggles. Yourself!

Treat yourself with greater patience, openness, and compassion, and you will see how this brings positive things to all of your relationships!