In our world today, we are inundated by ways to connect. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram all offer easy ways to social engage by sharing experiences, thoughts, pictures, and advice. However, we are learning from the research collected on those connections that they are often superficial and cause more negative responses than positive, as a result of FOMO (fear of missing out), jealously related to the seemingly perfect projected lives of others, annoyance at oversharing or what is being shared, conflict related to the ways that friends, acquaintances and family are relating to you or not relating to you over these media.
While many people have hundred, if not thousands, of friends, contacts, connections, followers, as psychologists we are hearing more often than ever how lonely, isolated, not understood, and disconnected people are feeling from others. There is preliminary data that is beginning to show a correlation between these types of social media relationships and poor social skills, including conflict resolution, relationship building and maintenance.
Loving-Kindness meditations offer a way to change some of your experience and reaction to relationships. The central tenant of this type of meditation is to build an understanding of others’ lives, as connected to your own, which means that you don’t have to like everyone or how they behave, but you want to work on the ability to care for others, because your lives are inextricably linked. It is based on seeing the world through the eyes of interconnection.
These are some practices that you can begin today to work on your connection to others:
- Start with someone who has helped you or inspired you. Picture them in your mind and/or feel their presence. Say their name to yourself and offer a set of kindness meditation phrases to them – “May you live in safety” “May you have health, physical wellness” “May you enjoy peace and happiness.” “May you live with ease.” Don’t create a phrase that you don’t mean.
- Think of a friend, who is doing well, say his/her name and then offer the sentiment to him/her.
- Think of a friend, who is having trouble (physical, mental, economic, etc.)
- Consider someone who you feel neutral about
- Next, call to mind someone you are in conflict with. Offer him/her a loving-kindness meditation. Start with someone where the conflict is mild and work your way to one with whom you have a more intense conflictual relationship. It can be common to feel anger or resentment when you are offering up kindness meditations for this person, but do not judge yourself for that experience. Instead realize that those feelings come from hurt and your heart which is suffering as a result. Out of compassion for yourself, work on letting-go and offering the loving-kindness.
- Finally, offer up the loving-kindness to anyone who spontaneously comes to mind.
The power of your own kindness, generosity of spirit and compassion for yourself and others can help you to build more sustainable relationships, as well as help you to heal from pain induced from other relationships. It can help you feel more connected to others and the world around you.SHARE: