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Lions Roar : May 2018
LION’S ROAR | MAY 2018 52 them at whatever distance feels right. Don’t worry about getting a clear image. It’s enough to just have a sense they are there. Notice whatever arises in you as you imagine the diffi- cult person opposite you. What sensations, emotions, and thoughts come up? Allow whatever comes to be there. Take some time with this. Next, in your imagination, change places with them; become the difficult person. Take your time settling into this new body. What’s it like to be this person? What do you notice in your body? In your emotions? In your thoughts? Again, take your time. Now, as you look at the person sitting opposite you (i.e., the original you), notice what you feel toward that person. What history do you have? Notice any sensations, emotions, and thoughts that arise. Now, specifically think about what you, now the difficult person, want from the original you. If it’s okay with you and not harmful, imagine that, as the difficult person, you receive what you want. Notice how it feels to receive it. This step of the contemplation is optional. Now, trade places again, and go back to being your origi- nal self. Once again, look at or sense the person opposite you. What arises for you now as you imagine them? If you gave them what they wanted, how would that feel for you now? When you feel ready, let the whole contemplation go and rest once again with your breathing for a few minutes. Having done the contemplation, just notice what you are experiencing, especially when you think of the other person. Notice what, if anything, has shifted. Many people find that what the person wanted was something they could readily offer. Others find that it is out of the question. This contemplation can help us let go of our fixed ideas about the other person. It can enable us to see them in a more rounded way and let go of any labels or stereotypes we have been holding about them. This may allow us be more open-hearted and less difficult ourselves. The author of Contemplative Psychotherapy Essentials, KAREN KISSEL WEGELA, PhD, is a psychologist and faculty member at Naropa University. Ego Is the Real Culprit No matter what the conflict appears to be about, says Zen teacher NORMAN FISCHER, it always come down to defending our shaky sense of self. “Self ” lies at the heart of the human prob- lem. We take ourselves completely for granted. I am I: of course, who else would I be? But what is this “self ” who I am? The Buddha saw that the experience we think of as “self,” is inherently shaky. If I am I, and not you or she, there’s always a built-in vulnerability. Because the essence of “I” or “we” is that it’s not another. This means that Though people think they are fighting about this or that, usually they are fighting over identity—over each one’s right to be who they are. —NORMAN FISCHER