After the retreat was over and Helen was back at work, she happily wrote to tell us what had happened. She had been focusing her kindness meditation on Mary and had begun to perceive what an unhappy and sad woman her boss really was beneath her tough exterior. Helen watched her moving and talking to people and saw the loneliness in her body language, sensing sadness in her voice. Each time Mary approached her, Helen would silently direct toward Mary, "May you be well, may you be happy, may you be peaceful," while sending her boss thoughts of care and compassion. This not only lowered her own stress response, but also balanced her reactive feelings.
Helen saw the reality of this other woman's unhappiness and how all the criticism and anger appeared to be due to her own issues, rather than anything Helen had done. Meditation cleared her mind and opened her heart so she was no longer giving her power away, but was able to stay steady within herself. No longer absorbing the criticisms, Helen could talk to her boss quite fearlessly.
On one occasion, while Mary was accusing Helen of something she thought had been done wrong, Helen gently reached out and touched Mary's shoulder, quietly asking, "Is everything okay?" To which Mary gave a deep sigh, sat down and began to unload her story of her husband being sick at home and two very rebellious teenage children. Helen was able to offer a listening ear, and the two soon forged a new and far more caring working relationship. Helen told us that developing a greater understanding for her boss had enriched her whole work life.
There is a Helen in you! At those times when you are in conflict with others, ask yourself: "Is it really about us, or is it their issue?" When you bring others into your heart, you're able to see beyond your own ego-centered mind and learn not to take issues so personally. Then you're also able to be more caring and kind. The meditation below can help you develop these qualities.
Try Ed and Deb's 3-step kindness meditation