Growing up has a couple of elements to it, some of which are in my opinion well taken care of elsewhere, such as cognitive development at schools and universities:
- cognitive development: this is what most of us learn in school and what most knowledge worker jobs entail: develop a more complex mental model of the world to better factor in other actors;
- ethical development: taking ethics into account conceptually helps in making kind decisions, some business schools teach this nowadays which includes, amongst others, philosophical questions such as moral dilemmas;
- relating to others: this is our ability to open up to others, be with others, and form meaningful and authentic relationships;
Although all three are relevant for growing up, my focus for inner work is on “relating to others” as it’s least covered within our existing educational systems.
One of the most powerful tools to practice relating to others is interpersonal meditation (circling)
. During a circling session at least two people stay present with what's happening inside of each of them. At the same time, they relate to the other person and their notion of the other person verbally.
This can include factual statements such as, "I notice you're blinking", to making assumptions about what's happening inside the other person and checking in with them, such as, "I imagine you're sad - is that correct?". This interplay allows one to see what arises in social interaction, to test and check beliefs one holds about the world, oneself, or someone else, and to practice one's awareness.
It also allows one to quickly form social connections and cut to the chase: instead of tiptoeing around the other person, sniffing them out ("what's your job?"), one immediately reveals the underlying emotional forces at play. The skills learnt while circling, are also insanely powerful tools in any other social setting - from work to leisure.
Circling skills are particularly unburdening when one struggles with social anxiety or feels uncomfortable in social settings.We feed on others, and they feed on us
. Sometimes our relationships are mutually nourishing, sometimes not, but either way it's hard to imagine any lasting relationship where some kind of physical or mental nourishment wasn't being consumed. At the same time, feeding is the activity in which we experience the most intimate sense of ourselves. We define ourselves through the pleasures, people, ideas, and activities we keep returning to for nourishment.
If you would like to experience the power of interpersonal meditation, find a donation-based workshop on Eventbrite