Over the weekend, I was invited lead an intro to meditation session at a beautiful little spot in Atlanta. During the Q&A, the topic of how mindfulness shows up in our everyday lives came up. I was excited to talk about it, because as you’ve heard me say before, it’s been my experience that mindfulness shows up in the little moments of your life long before it ever feels like meditating is “easy” – if that ever really happens.
There’s one big way I’ve seen it come through, though. One of the ways that I’ve seen mindfulness show up in my life is through compassion. It started with me, though. First, I learned to sit with whatever was happening inside me at any given moment, without judgment. Shifting away from being frustrated that I was feeling angry, or irritated that I was sad. I know those feelings will pass, as they all do, and that it’s part of the normal, human experience to have them.
It’s no simple task to sit with discomfort, though, but once I started practicing it, it got more familiar. Once I learned to stay there, then I started to see those things in other people. I saw the hurt behind anger, and the self-doubt behind arrogance. That, to be honest, is when the game changed.
I started to be able to see the connection between my discomfort, and even suffering, and that of other people. Not just the ones I already loved, but the ones I didn’t really know. Even more, I could (at least sometimes) see it in the people who tried my patience the most. Did I still want to strangle them occasionally, or even often? Yup. But I also had moments of softness when I could listen, observe, and let them have their experience without turning it into mine.
That is the definition of an open heart. To be in the presence of that which feels threatening, and to resist the urge to shut down in response. To be vulnerable, and strong at the same time. To see the humanity in your loved ones, and in your competition. To experience your feelings and let others have theirs without trying to offer solutions. To be present, and hold space. To be so open that eventually, you help them see it is possible to do the same.
That is love. That is power.
“You will love, and you will be loved, and you will learn that it is all the same.” ~ Melody Beattie
Photo credit: Tim Marshall