Conversation Meditation

It is all very good to develop compassion for the world when we are alone sitting on our cushions. But what about when we are talking to a real life person? How can we use the act of conversation as an opportunity for meditation?

If we remember some of the important principles of meditation – awareness, compassion, and wisdom – it is easy to see we can do all three when talking to others. It doesn’t matter if it is with those we love, hate, or are somewhat indifferent to.

The following instructions were taken from Marieke van Vugt’s instructions on What Meditation Really Is:

“You can focus on the other person just like any other focus of meditation. This means that you are not focussing on something else, which is actually exceedingly rare these days. This in itself is already a large gift to the person you interact with, because we really see the other person…

In addition to simply paying attention, we can develop our sense of kindness and empathy with the other person. We can see the other person as another “me”, focusing on their needs and feelings, rather than our own. Instead of planning out our future, what we’ll have for lunch and what errands we need to run (these are some of my favorite distractions), or contemplating what we’re going to say next, we can just be with the other person. Instead you can try to really hear what the other person needs, and feel a sense of connectedness. I have heard that some meditation masters such as the 16th Karmapa were able to make everyone they met feel like they were the most amazing person he had ever met. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could make others feel that way?

(This type of meditation) may have implications for how we see ourselves. We construct our sense of self largely based on our relations with others and with the world. If we construct this sense of self less on our wants and needs, and on wanting to be heard, and more on how we are, this may make us more stable and happy. We then become less dependent on the outer circumstances, and may feel more connected to others. We no longer have to be so afraid that we are not good enough, or that we do not have enough.”

Openness, softness, and spaciousness can be developed  with another person as a focus just as easily – and perhaps more easily – than if we focus on a deity, candle, or our own breath.