It is easy to get discouraged by the bad news that echoes around us on a daily basis.
In contrast, the practice of meditation can bring us a deep feeling of peace. As practitioners, we may begin to wonder how we can share this peace with others and whether it is possible to use our practice to transform the world around us. It can seem daunting to communicate about meditation with people who have never experienced it. They might have preconceived notions about it, and they may have difficulty understanding a meditator’s experiences or simply be resistant to learning about it.
So how can we approach others about meditation?
The important thing I’ve learned as I’ve developed my practice is to embody the peace of meditation. We must discover for ourselves what a peaceful consciousness is so that we can enter that state and share it, even in silence. In fact, the majority of my teacher’s lesson was silent meditation or playing music and meditating. He wasn’t giving verbal instruction; rather he was entering into a state of meditation, and we were inspired by his energy.
When we long to inspire positive change in our world, the very best thing we can do is to enter into a deep, peaceful state of meditation.
During World War II, one teacher, Ramana Maharshi, was living in India in his ashram with his disciples. He was often criticized for focusing on the spiritual while India was getting drawn into the war. People didn’t understand why he didn’t gather the disciples and fight in the war. His response has always stuck with me.
“On the outer plane what we hear around us are words and actions. That’s what we see around us. But those arise from our thoughts. The things we do and say are the surface and at the deeper level is our realm of thought. Thought arises from deep within the heart or the soul.”
His response meant that in deep meditation, he was going into the realm of the soul and from there emanating the most beautiful, loving energy that he could. Often the greatest thing we can do is offer up this kind of energy. Maybe it doesn’t lead to physical action, but when we go into that state, it can have a significant effect on others.
Once you are aware of your own state of consciousness, it’s important to feel the level of receptivity of people you’re dealing with.
We are all in different stages of life, so observing the state of mind people are in at any given moment is essential if you are to communicate effectively with them. The books of yoga describe two ways you can observe another’s state of mind. My teacher used to talk about synchronizing your breathing with another person because whether the breath is shallow and choppy or deep and calm reflects the state of mind. If you’re trying to communicate with someone and you link your breath up with their breath, you will become very conscious of how they’re feeling. Then you can choose your words in order to connect with their state of mind.
The Yoga Sutras talk about another way to observe mental states through the distinctive features of others. All human beings have a lot of similarities, but everyone has some features that are unique to them alone. Because our bodies are reflections of our minds, our distinctive elements reveal something about who we are and what state we’re in.
When you observe someone closely, you can get a feel for their state of being. And once you know that information, then you can communicate effectively.
Until you feel where someone else is at, communication can feel very one-sided, like we just want to push out information and make everyone think the way we do. If you’re observant and conscious of others’ mental states, you can empathize with them and really connect.
All of this starts with being able to calm your own mind in any given situation, and then from this peaceful state, being very observant of other people. As we work with these abilities, we can see the importance of compassion and empathy, the essence of which is being able to feel where other people are in their minds and hearts. This will enable you to be an amazing, flowing communicator.
As you become more proficient at accessing the calm meditative state and observing others, you will know when it’s time to remain silent, just feeling the other’s state of being in your heart. And through this connection, you will be able to inspire others and effect real change in the world.
Author: Sujantra McKeever
Apprentice Editor: Brenda Davidge / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Image: Ahmad Mujaddid/Pixoto