One aspect of mindful awareness I often ponder, is how greatly conscious awareness of our thoughts supports us in our relationships. Specifically in relation to noticing those moments when we see ourselves falling into disconnection or rejection of the other.
So to be more specific. We all have ‘tiger territories’ areas in which we feel vulnerable or insecure. This could be connected to feeling insecure about how we look, our weight, perhaps where we are in relation to our work lives, or in our friendships or romantic relationships.
So we are feeling insecure about our career progression and in walks someone living our absolute dream, confident and successful in the area of work we too are striving towards but feeling like we are making very small steps, doubting our own capacity to make things happen.
So up pops our tiger territory, the part of us that becomes a bit ‘growly’, on high alert. Our feeling of not good enough triggered by what we are seeing as another person very much good enough sparks insecurity within us. So a common response may be to feel intimidated, jealous, rejecting, not as good as this other person. In this moment these thoughts which express insecurity drive a wedge between us and the other person.
Chemicals in the brain are triggered that tell us we are under threat, tension can arise in the body. We physically and emotionally move away, or shut down. So in comes mindfulness, an opportunity to notice what is going on. We learn the signs of shut down, discomfort, tension, awkwardness. Getting to know yours, can help you shift out of this space.
So then how do we move towards connection? Step 1 Noticing – take a pause and see what is going on in your experience, maybe you just notice you don’t feel good Step 2 Become Curious .. ah ok I see there is some tension here, I see some thoughts he/she is more ..than me, perhaps some feelings of jealousy or insecurity. Step 3 Open – so once we realize what is happening, we can get a sense of closing down, so in this step instead we open, we stay with what is happening and choose to open, make space for how you feel, let it be there, observe it, its ok.
- ground – feel your feet on the floor, feel your breath in your body, relax your jaw, let your shoulders drop
- stay with the person, smile, make eye contact, stay open
- can you be joyful for them, can you find a space within your that says that is great, I am happy for this person, well done
- initially this may feel inauthentic, perhaps just thoughts, but sit with the thoughts, bring that energy down into your body, see if you can feel the warmth, the joy, put a hand on your heart
- this is really a practice of cultivating warmth and joy for others,
- a practice is systematically repeating the same action until eventually it starts to feel more natural, more like second nature
- in this discussion a habit of being happy for others
Celebrating others fortune, friends, family, people we have just met and complete strangers we see in the street, opens up this whole world of opportunity for joy. Each time we feel envy, jealousy, comparison to others, we can practice shifting into a space of gratitude that this person has what they have in their lives.
This is not ‘easy’ and does not necessarily feel ‘natural’ so it is not about feeling guilt when we do not automatically celebrate others fortunes but recognizing there can be a conscious and intentional practice which can help us cultivate these feelings. This practice gives us an opportunity to benefit from and bask in the happiness and joy all around us rather than limiting ourselves to only that which is stimulated from our own personal experience. What an amazing gift! Play around with this practice with lightness..and see what happens!