Mindful .ME

Am Ego or Amigo: Cultivating Sympathetic Joy

One of the deepest forms of personal liberation is developing the capacity to feel joyful for another's good fortune. The challenge of this practice (and beauty of this state) is realized most immediately when a person, with whom we are competing in some way, is presented with an opportunity, or achieves recognition, in an area we wish were ours to claim.

Often, the challenge and opportunity of sympathetic joy (i.e., finding joy in another's success) arise alongside the mixed feelings we experience. We are happy for our friend or colleague and jealous at the same time. This simultaneous arising offered a rich opportunity for transformation and growth.

At the heart of the matter resides the ego's yearning to be appreciated and valued in the midst of a circumstance that it interprets as threatening to these very needs. Often these interpretations are overreactions--but we believe them to be true, and subscribe to the implications we sense will follow.

Mindfulness and other meditative practices offer us a keener glimpse at the inner processes at play. With awareness, we are able to see more clearly a penultimate choice of picking between I "Am Ego" and my "Amigo" Do I turn my friend into a foe? Or do I share in my friends pleasure?

By paying attention to the thoughts, feelings and body sensations arising when we fall into the grips of discomfort, we can come to know ourselves more deeply, learn lessons, and experience an opening of the heart.

Mindful.Me Insight and Exploration: As you practice sitting and noticing your inner experience during these moments, you may glimpse a penetrating insight--the realization that the discomfort hints at at . . . the fear of annihilation.

Copyright 2012. Institute for Mindfulness Studies. All Rights Reserved.