Happy for No Reason: Cultivating Empathy

As a teacher and a teacher-trainer, I'm always reminded of something my father said when I told him I wanted to teach. "That's a tough job," he said.  "I mean, how do you teach someone to take a hint?"

"Awareness training" means paying attention to how we pay attention.  For many, that's how we can train the mind.  Concentration leads to calming.  Calming leads to tranquility, and that's the bi-product of meditative practices.

But another aspect of awareness training is paying attention to the realm of the heart and compassion.  It's the other half of mindfulness.

How do we train ourselves to pay attention to the heart of another?

I often use the phrase, "I imagine you are feeling ..."  As taught in Non-Violent Communication, it doesn't matter if you are wrong.

When I'm at the grocery store I'll sometimes try it there ...  At the end of a day I might say, "I imagine you're tired and ready to go home for the evening."   When I listen to another, I'll take a moment to say what I imagine my partner is feeling and say, "I imagine you're feeling ..."   No one has ever been offended.  On the contrary, there is a softening.  Sometimes a flash of appreciation that I've taken a moment to imagine their world.

In the Meditation Teacher Training Institute we have about 60 meditation teachers all exploring how to cultivate awareness of mind and heart.

This video of a master teacher gives us an example of what it means to serve the awakening of awareness.

A Teacher in Tokyo from J Z on Vimeo.


(Thanks, Silvia.)