Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Opening Ourselves to Others Through "Meditative Attention."

The following passage is from my current early-morning read, Arthur Zajonc (2008) Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry, When Knowing Becomes Love.  When I read the passage, I thought of a few luminous conversations I have had with students, especially during the latter part of my decade-long residency in American University’s Anderson Hall.  It is a goal to which it is worth aspiring, even if only fully realized on rare and because of that, memorable, occasions.  The passage from Zajonc’s book follows:
Our meetings with others can be a repeated occasion for the cultivation of meditative attention.  If we are sufficiently practiced in cultivating the meditative state of mind, then taking a few breaths, settling into ourselves and attending gently, openly and completely to the other is usually sufficient for a recognizable inner shift to take place.  We drop the combative stance, we live into the thoughts of the other, and so are practicing a form of self attention.  We need not correct what may be mistakes of fact or differences of opinion.  In this moment, we are positive and open to each other.  What we achieved in our preliminary solitary exercises becomes of practical use in relationships.  In my experience, the visual background surrounding my conversation fades and the face and voice of the partner are all that remains.  The exchange can even take a joyful sacramental character as a mutual recognition of the divine within each other suddenly arises.  

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