In the past 2 weeks, one very specific lesson has been knock knock knocking on my door. And it goes a little something like this: "Hey, know it all, meet people where.they.are."
As a feisty first born personifying the Bull/Ram temperament, knowing when to take the back seat and let someone else take the lead can almost feel... fiercely unnatural! (Shoulder shrug) Look, when I was little my signature line to everything anyone would tell me was "I know, I know", followed by "let me do it." My mom eventually learned to laugh it off. I think I even tried to pull a "let me do it" to my doctor when I was crying my eyes out the first time I had to have blood drawn! Moral of the story, I've always "known" better than you. It's an empowering illusion, until you realize that a lot of other people also "know" better than you, too. Hmm, so what gives? I could continue this "my way or the highway" act, sure. But it doesn't feel that good; especially when you are in the practice of teaching and healing.
But wait, there IS a way to both be of support AND embrace growth in the process. If you truly are serious about expanding your outlook, life is just around the corner, eagerly, waiting to throw you into situations that will challenge your hardheadedness. Trust me, I was dodging the hits all week! Instead of trying to change the other persons point of view, seek to understand why it is they hold those beliefs. Instead of copy pasting your truth onto theirs, highlight their paragraph and sit with it for a while. The key to being able to take a step back is to be clear on your intentions. Am I trying to help this person or am I trying to prove that I am "right"? The former allows you to reflect and even modify your position to find flexibility in your belief, the latter creates an instant stiffness and rigidity that deeply alienates you from the other. It's a gentle dance, where both sides learn to gravitate towards each other. The sweet-spot of "AHA" lies where the two positions align.
I am an avid meditator. The way I see it, it's a mental exercise that also has spiritual benefits. It makes me smarter, younger, more calm and more compassionate. The scientific literature on its health benefits is ridiculously legit and widely available. So why is there STILL so much taboo surrounding it? Well, because, it originates from a far away land, that we feel no connection to. Because it's weird, aka "different". So how do we get people we love to practice something that they have a psychological block towards? Well, we don't. I have found that the best way to influence is to lead by example and then maintain an open, and non judgmental attitude towards other respective practices. For example, say you follow Christianity or Islam and meditation feels like you're being "untrue" to your God? Okay, I can see where you're coming from. Or you don't really consider yourself spiritual and this feels a little too "out there" for you. I hear ya. But, in fact, this isn't a religious practice. It's a mental practice. Buddhism is not a religion; this dude they called the Buddha, never sought a following or claimed to be "God" or his messenger. He was a regular guy who after trying many different lifestyles to relieve himself of the inherent suffering that underlies the human experience, finally settled on something that worked for him. You can be a good Catholic and sit in stillness for 10 minutes per day. Nothing is taken away from your existing faith - on the contrary, it is amplified. You still with me? Good. So...you wanna give it a go? Yes, cool. No? No prob.
How did I do, guys??? :)
Meeting people where they are... Is a PRACTICE.
Thanks for reading.