When we are in relationship with another human being (could be anyone from our intimate life partner to the person ringing us out at the store), our attention often becomes unconsciously drawn fully to the other person and we lose contact with ourselves. We lose relationship with our body and we are often not aware of how the interaction with this person is impacting us. When we are not aware of how we are feeling in relationship with another, it puts us at a great disadvantage in terms of our own happiness and that of the relationship. The reason for this is because when we’re not aware of what we are feeling, those feelings have complete control over us. We become robotic and act automatically, dependent on whatever feelings are present.
For instance, if we are talking with someone and there is a strong feeling of attraction and we’re not aware of it, we may speak or act in ways that the other person feels uncomfortable with. Or, if we are interacting with someone and their behavior is triggering us in some difficult way, say anger, and we’re not aware of it, we will speak or act in ways that act out the anger.
If we can become aware of the impact the relationship is having on us, then we can have a choice about how we want to respond. You could say, we reclaim our humanity. Mindfulness gives us the space to be able to have a choice about what we think might be the best way forward, given what we are feeling and given the circumstances we are in.
One of the best ways to become aware of how we are feeling in relationship with another is to train ourselves to be aware of our bodies at all times, so that we have this available to us when we are relating to another. The body will give us timely and accurate information in terms of the state of our heart/mind.
So, the next time you make eye contact with another human being, remember your body. Feel your feet on the ground and keep some of your awareness with your body. This will go a long way towards making your relationships ones that are fulfilling and integrated into your Dharma practice.
INVITATION FOR PRACTICE AND BLOG COMMENT: The next time you find yourself upset with another person, look back and see if you can connect with the part of the interaction that caused you to be upset. Where was your attention at that time? Did you have body awareness? Were you clear that you were becoming upset? You may not be able to answer these questions, but just in the looking, you are preparing yourself to be more present the next time you are with someone.