I like connecting with others and am eager to understand them and what they are going through. This empathy with others is sometimes at the expense of empathy with myself. There are times when my interest in others is purely my caring, good-natured spirit, and there are other times, when, subconsciously, I am seeking to understand someone else’s experience as a form of diversion or distraction from my own inner state. Other times, I don’t intend to identify so strongly with others’ situations and emotions, but only realize later that I’ve internalized some of them (or at least my projection/understanding of them).
Beginning daily morning breathing meditations I have brought conscious awareness to my breath, and in turn, to my inner state. I realized this morning that when I have a conversation with someone and I leave feeling unsettled, it may be because while seeking to understand that person, I lost my connection to myself; I lost my anchor. The breath anchors us to our being—it is there for all of our existence, it is the indication of our aliveness. I’m curious to see if I check in on my inner state while conversing with others, if those feelings of unsettledness will still be there after the conversation is over. I tend to think they will not or at least they will be diminished. And if they are still there, I will feel the discomfort and I will sit with it (or stand!). Breathing exercises increase my ability to shine consciousness as well as compassion on my feelings.