Today’s near enemy lesson is about how to know when something is a tool vs. a crutch. A tool is something you use from a point of strength while a crutch keeps you weak over the long term. This shows up a lot in every aspect of my work but it shows up the most when I’m doing teacher training classes.
Lovingkindness Meditation is sometimes called Metta meditation. At its core it cultivates feelings of love and kindness for ourselves, the people we are close to, strangers, and also for people we have strong difficulties with. It's a core part of meditation practice and it's one people don't often realize they need until they see the benefits of working with it.
It fits into a mindfulness and emotional intelligence practice for some very important reasons:
"There are two types of people in this world..."
The tendency to divide things into two opposite camps is what we call binary, black and white, or, sometimes, all-or-nothing thinking. The world, though, is much more nuanced than everything being so easily divided down a center line.
Don’t judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes. Sensitivity exercises are activities that help your students understand just that. They put the class in a position where they experience a mock version of what another person’s experience feels like. Creating good sensitivity exercises takes some skill. Let’s look at the basic steps involved in creating these exercises along with some good examples to get you going.
Message-Based Listening (n.) - The ability to listen to the content and meaning of what is being said without emotionally reacting to how that message is being delivered. Message-based listening pays attention to the underlying expressed need in the communication as opposed to the actual words or tone being used. People untrained in reducing their emotional reactivity often struggle with this skill and respond (or react) to the speaker's surface message and method of delivery.
"Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you." - Kahlil Gibran
Like many things in our culture, we want to see things as either all or nothing. The same is true of today's choice in near enemies. The virtue being highlighted is reliance and the state frequently confused with this virtue is codependence.
Mindfulness Meditation derives from Vipassana, otherwise known as Buddhist Insight Meditation. You will find it taught as a secular or as a spiritual practice depending on your teacher. Mindfulness is often defined as a core skill that centers around your ability to be fully present in the current moment. Mindfulness meditation defines further what "fully present" means when it goes into examining the sensations in your body, focusing on your emotions, and providing insight into your ways of thinking.
Today’s flaw in thinking is the bias blind spot. If you have a bias blind spot, you are more able to see other people’s biases than your own and you may think of biases as something other people have -- not you. Or, if you do admit to having an unconscious partiality, the blind spot means you are highly likely to see yourself as far less affected by it than other people.
“Are you texting or doing something else I’d rather not know about under your desk?” I said and stopped class. My general rule for cell phones is that they be off and stored away. The penalty for cell phone use is that if I see you doing anything with the cell phone, the class stops and we all turn to stare at you until you realize you aren’t paying attention and put it away. It’s rude, poor manners, and you aren’t learning when you aren’t paying attention. And, yes, I teach adults not children.
There are times, though, when embracing the cell phone for some engaged activities can be good. Everything in moderation after all – even cell phones in the classroom. There just needs to be some structure and, no, I will not be listing any activities that involve replying to Facebook statuses or using the opportunity to text a friend. There are reasons other teachers tell me that I’m stricter than the nuns they grew up with.
Emotionally Linked Memory (n.) - An emotionally linked memory is a memory that arises due to its direct link or similarity to your current emotional state or mood. It can also be part of the reaction to a current situation unfolding around you. The more emotionally aware you are, the more likely you are to see the link between this past memory and your present state. If you are still working on being more aware of your emotional state, these memories showing up can feel more like random occurrences than anything else.
My Writing and Other Resources for Students
A growing collection of writing and other resources for students to use to continue their growth.