Have you ever walked down a street and crossed it to avoid a stranger you think looks unsavoury or unacceptable in some way? Or you see someone you know who you can’t be bothered with in that moment?
I’m not sure which is worse, doing it automatically as I used to do, or being aware of my actions and thoughts as I now am on an increasingly regular basis. Being aware at least feels like a step towards changing my behaviour but adds in the responsibility of doing something different. Even if it’s only a changed thought in my head.
At the moment I’m following Sharon Salzberg’s book, The Power of Meditation.. it’s a month’s worth of reminders, practices and consolations. The reminders bring me back to one of the practices which cover stilled posture routines as well as walking meditations.
The consolations come from the underlying theme of the book which is that beating myself up about not achieving some mythical golden moments of stillness, isn’t useful.
What I’m taking from the book as well is that the practice isn’t those blank moments when I’ve banished all thoughts, but rather the knowing that acknowledging the thoughts… and then returning to the practice, whether it’s focusing on the breath, or counting or whatever, that’s the practice.
It’s taking a look at myself clearly and compassionately. And this increased loving kindness towards myself is I hope spilling out towards others. Because as I recognise all the emotions I wish I didn’t feel, the thoughts I’d prefer not to think and the actions I regret as soon as I’ve taken them, I can accept them as part of me but not the whole of who I am.
And turning outward then towards others, maybe I can accept more that the ways I see others behave is not the whole of who they are.