Qualities of Interpersonal Mindfulness
Even in the most difficult interactions, where you may feel threatened, angry, and fearful, you can significantly improve the relationship by bringing interpersonal mindfulness to the situation. As we mentioned earlier, the practice of mindfulness is like cultivating a garden; certain qualities and conditions must be present in order for mindfulness to grow. When relationships are strained or difficult, bringing interpersonal mindfulness to the situation can potentially prevent them from withering away or blowing up.
Here are six qualities that we consider essential in cultivating interpersonal mindfulness and dramatically improving your relationships:
Similar to beginner’s mind, this isa quality where you’re open to seeing the other person and the relationship as new and fresh, and where you’re open to the other person’s perspective. Being closed-off or defensive is definitely a barrier to an open heart and mind! To cultivate openness, notice your first thought or judgement about what others are saying or doing, then imagine it as just one perspective - one slice of a pie chart, not the entire circle. Imagine filling in that pie with other perspectives, each holding equal value.
This is a quality of actually identifying with another’s feelings - emotionally putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. The first step is to acknowledge and experience you own feelings; only then can you do this with another person. To cultivate this quality, practice mindfulness of your own emotions, getting in touch with them and then tapping into specific emotions where you sense that others are feeling them. You may be inclined to trust your intuition in respect to how others are feeling, and this can be effective. However, if you’re at all uncertain, it’s generally a good practice to simply ask. If you struggle with empathy, perhaps it will help to realize that in our hearts, we all want certain basic things: to be accepted, to be loved, and to feel secure.
This is a quality that combines empathy with an understanding of the position the other person is in and a desire to ease the person’s suffering. To cultivate this quality, allow yourself to imagine the sorrows and pains that the person holds. During this life, they’ve certainly experienced disappointments, failures, and losses, and some of these wounds may be so deep that the person may not feel safe sharing about them. Imagine the person as your own child, feeling frightened and in pain, and consider how you’d comfort him or her.
This is a quality where yo truly wish another well - to be healthy, safe from harm, and free from fear. To cultivate loving-kindness, imagine the other person as your own child and consider how you would extend these well-wishes for him or her. Imagine how you’d want to see the person bring his or her being into the world.
This is a quality where you delight in the happiness and joy of others. It is the opposite of jealousy, envy, and resentment. To cultivate this quality, imagine the other person growing up and reflect on the joy and adventure the person has experienced, along with the courage and strength he or she has brought to overcoming challenges in life. Sympathetic joy is possible regardless of the person’s circumstances; simply realize that inner resources of joy are available to everyone and extend you wish that the other person might access this joy.
A quality of wisdom, an evenness and steadiness of mind that comprehends the nature of change. Equanimity gives you more balance and composure in understanding the interconnectedness of all life. Like most people, you may treat others differently based on your perceptions of them. You might treat a coworker with care and be unpleasant with a post office clerk because you were in a rush. Realize that all relationships have inherent value, and that all human beings deserve to be treated with the other person’s face as that of a parent, a friend, a lover, a child, or a student. This will help you see the person as someone who, like all of us, simply wants and needs kindness and love.
Excerpt from A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, by Bob Stahl PH.D. and Elisha Goldstein PH.D.
Living with an awake heart
with Tara Brach
5 Steps to Mindful Listening
1. Check inside: “How am I feeling just now? Is there anything getting in the way of being present for the other person?” If something is in the way, decide if it needs to be addressed first or can wait till later.
2. Feeling your own sense of presence, extend it to the other person with the intention to listen fully and openly, with interest, empathy, and mindfulness.
3. Silently note your own reactions as they arise—thoughts, feelings, judgments, memories. Then return your full attention to the speaker.
4. Reflect back what you are hearing, using the speaker’s own words when possible, paraphrasing or summarizing the main point. Help the other person feel heard.
5. Use friendly, open-ended questions to clarify your understanding and probe for more. Affirm before you differ. Acknowledge the other person’s point of view—acknowledging is not agreeing!—before introducing your own ideas, feelings, or requests.
This exercise is about revisiting some of the role models you have had throughout your life - and adding some new ones to your list.
Is there someone in your life who has inspired you, who has opened your mind, perhaps gently or perhaps swiftly, so that you feel a different sense of possibility?
See if you can bring that person here. Keep in mind that just because you consider someone a role model doesn’t mean that you necessarily follow his or her worldview at all times. And although we owe a lot of gratitude to those who have inspired us, it can also be an emotional trap for us to expect ourselves to follow in their footsteps at all times. To do so simply makes us feel inadequate - and goes against the expression of self-love and self-respect that we’ve been cultivating.
For this practice, you may want to close your eyes and softly visualize your role models, and feel the effects they have had on you. You may also choose to write their names down and perhaps reflect on a few admirable qualities that you associate with these particular individuals.
These names need not exist in isolation in your thoughts or in your notebook. By taking the time to reflect on the people who inspire you to act with more love and compassion, you are taking strides toward greater mindfulness in your own actions, thoughts, and words.
excerpt from Real Love: The art of mindful connection, Sharon Salzberg
Last week we reached our goal of sitting for 30 minutes per day. If sitting for 30 minutes per day was manageable last week, stick with it. If it was challenging, or you’ve been working with a length of time that is working for you, stick with this length, or simply add one minute to whatever your current practice time is, for the next week.
Again, In this recording I guide you into the practice, setting you up with a good seated position, breathing and focus. Silence. And at the end of 30 minutes I bring you back out of the practice with three OMs.
Builds willpower and determination
Draws vibrant energy from head through to feet
Sharpens mental focus
Legs up the wall pose
* Glaze painting using one colour on entire canvas
* Bring back skin/texture on main image, by using a small amount of chosen paint colour. Dry-brush for smooth texture, or use brush that creates the texture that you are seeking to create i.e., fur, feathers, etc.
* Begin to bring chosen colours into the different areas/shapes in your painting using the most appropriate techniques for your image. Consider using thicker amounts of paint and multiple techniques to add interest and pop to your painting. i.e., words, patterns, etc.