Most everyone that’s new to meditation practice has expressed the same conflict and confusion. How do you tell your friends and family about your practice? The internal dialogue surrounding the decision is an interesting paradox worth exploring for ourselves.
You may have been at this for a while now and realize that this is something that you want to become a regular part of your life, or you may have realized that being yourself, being connected to the universe, practicing kindness is your life. It’s only natural to want to talk to others about something good that has happened to you. You may even have the best intentions of wanting others to find the happiness and calm center that you have discovered, but you know that some people in your life won’t be very receptive. Some may even be very judgmental and say hurtful things to you. So there is this conflict of wanting to share about your practice and the way you see the world and being afraid of being judged by loved ones who just don’t understand.
First, we need to explore our motivations for wanting to tell others about it but also explore why we are afraid of being judged by others. On one hand we may want to share our experience with others as another form of seeking approval and validation from people. While not to let anyone know about the changes we’ve experienced is a fear of rejection and losing approval. It’s really a paradox. The ego is at play in both decisions, but realizing how it’s at work gives us areas to explore and work through.
- What is it about me that craves the approval of others?
- Why do I need others to validate my experience for me?
- If I can’t be myself around those that love me, do they really love me or the idea of me?
- What is it about rejection that terrifies me and paralyzes me?
Second, we shouldn’t try to evangelize others to bolster our own lack of confidence. I ran across a wonderful Taoist insight by Chuang-tzu this week that we could learn from:
She let’s the confused stay confused
if that is what they want
and is always available
to those with a passion for the truth.
When we free ourselves of this desperate need for approval, we can be truly ourselves. When someone that we love has a genuine need or has expressed interest in changes they see in us, we can have the courage and humility to be honest and to be kind in our responses.
Remember, the Buddha said, “Be a lamp unto yourselves.” We don’t have to seek validation for the path that we know is right for us, but we also don’t have to force our way on others who may not be ready at this time or ever.
Practice loving-kindness and mindfulness for their own sake, whether anyone understands why you do or not. Just be yourself. Be present. Be kind. Let your life touch others and let your actions speak louder than words. Explanations won’t be necessary.