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Inside Out

In Buddhism there's this great concept of near-enemies and far-enemies. Two things are far-enemies if they are polar opposites: the far enemy of compassion is cruelty. But near-enemies are more subtle: they seem very similar at first, but when you look deeper, they're still opposites. The near-enemy of compassion, for example, is pity. They kind of seem like the same thing, because both mean you "feel bad" for someone else, but compassion is dignified and brings you closer together. Pity is condescending. It distances you from the other person.

Far-enemies aren't that interesting to me because they're pretty obvious. Polar opposites. Ho-hum. But I love near-enemies, because there's a lot to talk about in the subtlety.

So let's talk about two of the biggest near-enemies of all: self-consciousness and self-awareness.

Client Stories: The Wind Down

On Tao of Mal

When I teach meditation, one of the things that I stress is to make the meditation your own, meaning apply it to your way of life. Whatever is convenient and easy for you, that is what I want. Some folks get turned off by meditation because they think it requires too much of a commitment or is too regimented. I try to let people know that meditation can be done at any time, in so many different ways.

Cheyenne is a very busy person to say the least. She has 3 children all under the age of 7, the youngest is 18 months. Her husband runs a company in Connecticut, because of this he spends a lot of time away from their Manhattan apartment. This adds more stress to Cheyenne’s life. Cheyenne is a high powered corporate attorney who spends much of her time negotiating corporate mergers. She works up to 13 hours a day and can be called away on a conference call or an office meeting on a moments notice, sometimes even in the middle of the night. When she is home she is busy going to little league, gymnastics, parent teacher conferences and even baby yoga. Although like any parent she loves spending time with her kids, she said it can be exhausting and stressful.

When Cheyenne and I first met for a session via Skype, she informed me that she would try it but that she wasn’t sure where she would find the time to practice it. So the session went on, we tried several breathing techniques and mindfulness exercises. Cheyenne told me she preferred 4-7-8 ( 4 second inhale, 7 second hold, 8 second exhale) breathing, so that is what we concentrated on. At the end of the session she told me that she felt more relaxed then she had in a long time. It made me feel good to hear that I had been a help, but I was still concerned that Cheyenne would not be able to find the time to use the techniques she learned.

A week later I heard back from Cheyenne for a quick check in. To my surprise, Cheyenne had told me that she had indeed found time to practice the relaxation techniques. She says every night before bed after the last conference call and story time, she takes time for herself and practices her breathing. She uses the exercises to help her wind down. I was so happy that Cheyenne had adapted the meditation to fit into her busy life and subsequently benefit her by helping her get rid of the stress from the day and have a good night sleep. Great job Cheyenne!

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