Seeing the other as another you and exchanging places
Choose a person with whom you have difficulty
understanding and communicating with, for any reason. Or, choose
someone it is impossible to communicate with in a normal way, due to
mental illness or loss of cognitive function.
Seeing the other as another youInstead
of seeing the person in their usual role--as your parent, colleague,
sibling, or patient--see him or her in your mind's eye as just
"another you." Consider that this person is the same as you.
Just like you, the other person has a strong desire to be happy and
a fear of suffering. Spend some time really seeing the other person
as the same as you, as just another you.
Exchanging placesOnce you have
established this feeling, then imagine changing places with the
person. Now you are in that person's life, standing in their shoes.
You have their present experiences of suffering: perhaps feelings of
being misunderstood or unfairly judged, hidden insecurities, chronic
physical pain, fears of being unloved, deep frustrations, or
Imagine as well that you have this person's
history--which may include accomplishments and good memories. It may
also include experiences of tremendous loss and pain, physical
illness, trauma, or rejection and isolation.
Still considering yourself as the other person,
you also have whatever ideas and fears they may have about their
future: aging, with its physical deterioration and increasing
dependence and loss of control, the grief of future losses, fear of
poverty and homelessness, or fear of being abandoned and left alone
while going through illness, old age, or dying.
From this perspective of seeing the world through
the other person's eyes, now imagine seeing the former "you" enter
the room to have a conversation. And ask yourself: What would I most
want from the person now coming to see me? What would I most need
from him or her? How would I want the person coming in the room to
Stay with your insightsStay with these
insights for awhile, conclude the reflection and dedicate.
Once you have completed this meditation for
awakening compassion, if you find that your heart is more open and
understanding of the other person's suffering, you may want to
include him or her in your daily spiritual practice.