Various forms of mindfulness-based compassion training help us to care more about the needs, happiness, and health of other people. However, direct applications of interpersonal mindfulness activates these influences into direct action on behalf of others. Thus, if lucky, we learn to care more about others and less about ourselves. The self-centered ego gives way to compassionate tolerance. Buddhist practices and meditations may improve our interpersonal relations, both intimate and distant. Today our world, nation, regions, and families are locked in bitter conflict; the entitled view of “my ideas are right” holds sway and prevents any forward movement for negotiated co-existence of different ideas and people. If we hope to save ourselves as well as our world, we MUST practice more interpersonal mindfulness. Such practices of random acts of kindness, general compassion, taking in suffering and giving out joy, tolerance, openness to differences, general gratitude and others all support more inter-personally cooperative thoughts and behaviors. Such thoughts and behaviors will improve self, dyads, relationship, family, community, race, ethnic group, religion, state, nation, and world. The need for this shift is highly urgent! We must change our being from greed, aversion, and hate to generosity, inclusivity, and love. If not our species and our world may fail.
In some ways this conflictual existence is the outcome of our old limbic brain structures (my own survival above all else), and our aggressive greediness as a species. According to very old Buddhists writings, one thing we can do right now if practice deep, active listening. By listening more to others and their opinions, and talking less about ourselves, we may achieve an emotional balance of mutuality. Basic mutuality (we are BOTH important) may lead to more deep listening and personal reflections of what is happening right now in this present moment. What, exactly, is it that is upsetting me? What, exactly, is it that may lead to mutual satisfaction here now? Begin your changes by starting with yourself. Notice what conflictual inner self-messages continue to play and re-play themselves over and over again in your own mind. Begin by listening to your own inner conflicts, and work at listening and reflecting deeply on both sides of this dynamic. Work on a solution, even if it is not a perfect one. First practice more radical acceptance with your own inner conflicts, then gently move to outer conflicts – begin gently with significant others. Practice, practice, practice and practice more. There cannot be a winner! Once you feel the sensations and emotions of successful compromise, begin to practice beyond intimate circles and into your general world environments. It is all about sharing your love and acceptance of self with others, and being for the betterment of others. On this path also practice good self-care.
Practice letting go of harsh self-centered judgments and learn to appreciate both similarities and differences – even BIG differences. After all, impermanence is real – as is the time-limited life you now have. Better to work at compassion and openness NOW. Better to work on caring about others and loving people NOW. Our total interdependence causes great energetic frictions at times. Learn how to find the MIDDLE WAY and encourage others to follow that path. The subtle energies of love and the very powerful energies of hatred both have immense influence in our lives. Live for love! Live to reduce hatred and reed! Be authentically intelligent and kind-hearted in your relatively short life.
For more information refer to Musho Hamilton, D. (2017). The Zen of You and Me: A Guide to Getting Along with Just About Anyone. Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications.
Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness