health: Compassionate meditation can help difficult relationships
Photo by Flickr user adrielsocrates
Have you ever been stung by how someone spoke to you? And then worried about getting stung again? This seems to me to be a fairly common concern within organizations, friendships and families.
Perhaps you remember assertiveness training. The advice was to respectfully address the person and request to be treated differently. That may work in some situations, but in my work as a psychotherapist and in my personal experience, I found that there was a side effect. The offshoot often resulted in the other person walking on eggshells. That may feel more protective, but also more strained.
I found that meditation can be just as effective in curtailing the offensive behavior and without the negative side effects.
Years ago, an acquaintance in a volunteer organization in which I served always spoke to me in condescending tones. I couldn’t understand the basis for this. We were the same age, and there was no power differential in our relationship. Every time I considered bringing this to her attention, I ended up feeling it would make things worse.
In meditation one day, the following idea came to me: imagine being with her without any tension. So I pictured us together, interacting pleasantly. Then I imagined she said something condescending. I took a deep breath and imagined that the comment didn’t “stick.” It simply floated by without affecting me.
I meditated on that idea. The result was startling. She never spoke to me unpleasantly again! It has been more than 15 years since that happened, and even though I have frequent contact with her, I never worry about how she’ll treat me.
Compassionate meditation takes this idea a step further. Click on the link at the beginning of this paragraph for a Youtube presentation by Geshe Lobsang Negi, director of Emory's Center for Collaborative and Contemplative Studies. Basically, with this technique, one focuses on the appreciation, the qualities that invoke empathy for the other person.
I highly recommend this technique. It is very effective in soothing over difficult interactions.
Thanks to one of my readers for suggesting this topic!
Susan Scott Morales is a meditation teacher, psychotherapist, published poet, novelist, and community contributor to AnnArbor.com and blogger on redroom.com. Tweet her @susanscottmoral, reach her at email@example.com or visit her website: susanscottmorales.com or fan page: https://www.facebook.com/susanscottmorales.writer.