The question seems simple upon first asking, but the nature is truly complex.
It goes right to the heart of human behaviour and motivations. When we practice sitting with this question daily our personal experience of others will begin to shift. This practice calls you to align with your true nature. Firstly, while in contemplation you sift through the layers of the ego that will tell you about what a great person you already are and then you begin to call up memories of your actions to support your statement. You spend time on the cushion reminiscing about all the times you were truly good and kind and then it happens…. You begin experiencing thoughts of self-doubt the ego’s shadow nemesis. The longer you sit in contemplation it arrives… the thought spiral of statements and memories to challenge those thoughts.
When we pull from the past memories the resentment arrives in all of it’s splendour with a Victim statement like “I am too good that’s why I am constantly hurt” and then we further spiral onto the Martyr “ I can’t possibly do anymore!
Next comes the bitterness of serving, “Ha! I have done so much for them and what do I get for it? Hurt!”. Then, the shameful thoughts about our own bitterness surface: “In the end, it's me that’s unlovable," or "I'm not good enough"; "That’s why I suffer". Then, the ego redoubles its actions to cover the secret shame and becomes an actor: “You know what? I am a good person. I am so kind. Everyone will see how good I am....Remember when I did this and that?” Ego invites you back to fall in love with your own branding.
In the meditation, a moment of clarity arrives. You begin to witness the path of these thoughts spiralling down, but again the shadow resurfaces when you visit the memories of your own greatness. Memories surface when you were kind and were not acknowledged. So what happens if you don’t get the feedback you were hoping for when interacting with others? Withdrawal, “if they don’t see me and my intentions to serve I will not interact at all. I will withhold love” wow this makes us seem pretty unattractive but we visit this place more than you would think! This is the place of sombre moods and withdrawing from communication. Eventually when we tire of our island we may be attracted to intellectualize to protect the ego. We retreat in another way to our lofty intellectual castle where we use our rational mind to assess our experience of the world. We come up with many reasons why we are not benefiting others and why we are experiencing isolation and pain. The ego, while realizing you're under threat of exploding, will rally and prop you up with great statements like, “After all is said and done, I am just too, special for this world, too sensitive, too loving too compassionate, too good natured, and that is why I experience this pain". Within the meditation, a moment of clarity arrives, when you are overwhelmed by the sheer volume and content of your thoughts. You may have an experience of overseeing the massive content of thoughts running. At this point, you will either conclude your practice in frustration and consider the meditation a failure because you couldn’t get out of your head, or if you stay with the practice, you will find that just around the corner from frustration is liberation. When you just can’t possibly think another thought it happens. You have a moment of clarity that separates you from the mind’s endless machine producing those thoughts. You become cognizant of a new state called awareness. A place where bliss and silence exist; from this place, this awareness communicates very differently than mental thought narratives. In this silence ideas are embodied and birthed into consciousness. It is a process totally unique to this state of awareness. You cannot bring mental narratives to this state hence the statement ‘you cannot think meditation’ and you cannot drive to awareness through force or determination. I called it the abstraction of ego. Where the ego is dismantled and all of its processes and parts are stripped and simplified. It is beyond the how and why I have an ego to the seed of the originator … awareness.So, what does the journey from resentment to acceptance and onto love look like? What does the journey from I am my thoughts to I am awareness look like?As we continue to sit and listen to our thoughts while applying breath and meditative mind state we begin to experience a distancing from those thoughts. Through the application of breath our physical body has entered and stayed in passive state. Our nervous system is in a Parasympathetic state-- meaning we are not launching a program to protect or defend ourselves. Our awareness understands we are not currently experiencing these thoughts. Being anchored in this meditative state we experience a truly objective state to reflect upon. In meditative mind, we are not experiencing the emotions in their ‘active state’. Rather, we are experiencing them in a reflective and benign narrative state. In the practice of sitting on the cushion, everything is welcome. Everything is the teacher--every thought, every silence and every breath.