This is a practice to help you open in presence and compassion when faced with a person or situation that has pushed your buttons.
To begin, take a moment to find your breath by taking three long, deep breaths. Perhaps throughout the rush of your busy life, your awareness of this powerful life-force has been lost. Three deep breaths allow you to once again find inner space and begin to gain more perspective on what you are experiencing.
One deep breath in, then out.
Another deep breath in, then out.
One more deep breath in, then out.
If you are not fully aware of a situation in which someone pushed your buttons, take a moment now to see if you can remember a situation or person that you found challenging.
Now, see if you can perceive this challenging situation or person from the vantage point that this moment is not happening “to” you. It simply is. Remind yourself that any sense of disconnection, separation from this moment, comes from your ego. The ego can be understood as a distorted sense of self that only knows how to live through feeling separate. It continues, the more you feed it. So if you choose to feed it now, that suffering will keep growing.
What happens once you begin to expand your sense of awareness, rather than close off? You gain greater insight. You see more. You experience more. You can begin to see into what really is. Suppose you remember an encounter with someone yelling angrily at you. You notice your immediate reaction to become tense and closed, sensing danger, wanting to leave. Leaving is an option, but first, let us meet this moment.
Going deeper, you see that this person yelling makes you feel unloved. It is this feeling unloved that signaled danger. You have primal wiring that tells you that you are dependent on your parents’ love for your survival. We all have this tendency. It is part of our human make-up. When you perceive yourself as not getting love from someone you see to be a source of love, you can actually feel afraid for your life.
But if you go deeper, you see that no one person is the source of your love, no matter how close you may be to that person. Love comes from all, through all, in all. It is everywhere, always, even in the midst of an angry, emotional storm. Go deeper and you will find connection to that love that is so much bigger than this one, temporary experience or person. Maintain this big picture.
Breathing, allow tension to soften. More rooted in the big picture, you can also notice how the angry person is emitting deep, painful feelings. You know painful feelings. You can relate. You understand the helpless feeling in the face of overwhelming pain. Within the sphere of mindful witnessing, you feel closer, less separate from what is. You have touched the heart, human connection.
Looking closer, you see how tense this person’s body has become. You see how much pain they are in. You see the disconnected state they are in. You then begin to realize that if you disconnect and react to their anger, you would only add fuel to a painful fire.
You can begin to see that this person’s expression of pain is a call for love. This person does not feel loved. You know this place. You know this pain. A feeling of spacious compassion arises, and you are present. You are not the source of love, but by being present, you can rest in the source of love, pure consciousness arising. As you choose to rest here, you offer the other the greatest healing possible. You are a portal for transformation. You rest in who you are. You offer a quiet, humble reminder of what is.
By acting consciously, not only do you help to release your own reactivity to painful situations, but you also help to ease suffering in others. You no longer add fuel to the fire of your pain or theirs. In this, everyone wins.
Even broader still, by meeting this moment as it is, you send out a deep state of receptivity for peace and harmony that goes beyond this one incident. You signal to the universe that you are open, ready and willing to release all limited states of consciousness in you that perpetuate these kinds of painful situations. By learning to be present when faced with challenging people, you become a peaceful warrior, and a transformative alchemist of light and love in the midst of pain.
May all beings everywhere be free.
Parvati is an award-winning musician (I Am Light, Electro Yog, Yoga In The Nightclub), yogini (YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine), author (Aonani of Avalon, Confessions) and founder of the not-for-profit Parvati.org. All her work is dedicated to protecting all life on Earth by establishing the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary(MAPS). More info: parvati.tv; parvati.org.