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Something to ponder: when people become more mindful, do they also tend to become more relational, more aware of other people? And if so, does it also move them to action? Elad Levinson, instructor for our first Praxis You course, Thriving on Change, spoke with Mirabai Bush about her experience with the interdependence between mindful awareness and cultivating goodwill.
“I think that mindfulness is very important in cultivating goodwill toward others. In my experience, when I work mindfully with an intention toward compassion, for instance, I notice that I am working better with others. The more you practice, or the deeper you go, the more you tend to develop awareness of how you can make change to relieve the suffering of others.
Mindfulness gives you the space to cultivate calmness and clarity, which can allow you to become quiet enough to be present for another person–to really listen to them and be conscious of their emotions. Of course, practicing mindfulness doesn’t, in and of itself, always provide such results. Some people begin to practice mindfulness and other meditations and would prefer to sit in a cave, so to speak. Just stay inward. And there are long traditions of that in all the religious and spiritual traditions: contemplation doesn’t have to focus on relationships.
We really need to do complementary compassion practices to cultivate goodwill. When I consult with organizations dealing with difficult leadership transitions or mergers, I introduce a practice called Just Like Me. Here’s how it works: you look at another person and remember, call to mind, all the ways in which they are ‘just like me.’ Participants silently repeat phrases like, ‘You are another human being, with thoughts and emotions, just like me, and you have been through very difficult things in your life, and you want to be a good person, just like me.’ At the end, you send goodwill and kindness to the other person.
Keep in mind that we also need to cultivate compassion, understanding, and care for ourselves. Then an awareness of the ways in which others are just like me really begins to resonate. We have more of a predisposition, or an inclination, to treat each other with respect and dignity.”
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