Mindfulness Practices for Expanding Acceptance
Mindfulness and contemplation can be great allies in our struggle to better understand each other. This is especially true when it comes to matters of interpersonal relationships and highly significant relationships. It is also important in diversity, or as some now refer to it – variation in human beings. Variation may be a better term; it implies there are variations in all humans. Since variation exists inside and outside typical human groups (women, men, racial and ethnic groups, religions, etc.), it may be a more normative term to signify a noticed difference in any person. Since variation (diversity) among people is a highly observable difference, it may sometimes influence our deeper insecurities: this person is like me or not like me.
In mindfulness traditions, we strive to accept others as complete equals and to be in a state of compassion and acceptance with them. All people are born, suffer, experience joy, become old and/or ill, then die at some point. We are ALL experiencing the same process living here on earth. We all suffer, experience joy, and we all will die at some time in the future.
Keeping these ideas in mind, please participate in the following mindful awareness activity dealing with human variation. This is a positive stereotyping activity. You are being asked to use mindful contemplation to think of positives in other people who present with variation – not exactly like you.
Please follow the steps listed below.
A) List five groups of people with variation – these groups are different in race, ethnicity, religion, social-economic status, etc. The five groups are NOT exactly like you.
B) Although these five groups of people have variations that you do not have, please contemplate about each group AND at least one positive trait you believe they possess. This is positive stereotyping; positive stereotyping is being used to have you experience something a bit different regarding your usual views about variations in humans.
NOW go back to the five groups and write at least one positive trait you do believe each group possesses.
C) As you read over what you have written, contemplate on each group and any positives you listed.
D) As you completed this mindful activity did you notice any biases that came up for you? If yes – what came up?
E) As you completed this mindful activity, did you notice any feelings of compassion that came up about any of the groups or their struggles? If yes – what came up?
F) As you completed this mindful activity, did you notice any subtle shifts in your own perspectives about any of these groups? If yes – what shifted?
Hopefully mindful activities like this one may be helpful in softening your own heart about others – and, perhaps, about yourself.
Compassion, acceptance, and understanding can go a long way in improving relations with others. This is particularly true if the others possess human variations you do not possess.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness
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