I’ll have to ask you to fill in the blanks on this one. I am writing about extroverts and introverts, but any dualism can be exchanged in replacement for these opposites. This article is primarily about awareness, a tool that is central to meditation practice. I’d also like to suggest that it is central to our interaction with others and in that vein it is also a post in support of introverts.
Within meditation practice, awareness is that little watcher in our minds that keeps an eye on where the focus of our mind is. In there is a paradox - it is faculty of the mind that keeps an eye on what the mind is doing. Are we staying with the object of meditation or have we wavered onto some more pressing - of course our meditation practice is important but once we ask our mind to focus, the subject of what we are going to eat for breakfast or that afternoon meeting suddenly becomes more interesting.
So awareness watches and catches us when we stray from the object of meditation and gently brings us back. In our everyday life awareness is like a self-policing. Do we know the full story of what is going on here? Are we responding appropriately to this situation? Awareness is continually asking of us to ask deeper questions. Do we have the full picture here? I’ll explore this from a perspective on the extrovert/introvert interaction…from the introvert perspective. But first bicycles.
I enjoy cycling. I enjoying cycling not as a sport but as a recreational cyclist. I own a couple of bicycles for getting around. My trusty work horse is a Brompton a British designed, fold-up bike that gets me around the city of Portland. For longer recreational rides I have a Specialized road bike. The Specialized has twenty gears, the Brompton, six. The Brompton is a good strong bicycle but it does make me work harder on the hills, longer rides and pedaling against the wind. I jump on the carbon fibre Specialized and suddenly cycling becomes like putting a hot knife through butter - effortless.
When you are on a bike there are hills, and there are hills. Some of the regular hills are so gradual that if you are in a car you probably don’t even notice them. However, for the cyclist the gradual incline soon works its way into your muscles. You might choose to take a break while riding the incline, find yourself panting for breath at the barely perceptible top and wearily free wheeling down the other side, having little inclination to pedal but a wish to rest those tired legs. Because of the time taken pedaling up the hill you might take in some details of the route traversed, the sites passed, the smells in the air.
The car driver however, through no fault of their own, does not recognize the hill. The car strains little if at all. You are soon at the top, quite possibly not even recognizing or registering it as a ‘top,’ and carry on with your journey. The awareness is not there of a hill having been traveled along, or the details of the journey itself.
The Monkey Mind
I use this to illustrate the unintended lack of awareness that extroverts can bring to the needs of introverts. This article is not about “never ending introvert suffering”! Indeed we can all bring a lack of awareness to anything that is not a major player in our own lives. No, the intention here is simply awareness, or lack of - whether it is from introverts to extroverts, vise versa or between those blanks that you filled in at the beginning.
Without an awareness of the needs of introverts to have some quiet time to recharge. Without an awareness of introverts ability to make informed decisions though maybe taking longer over it. Without an awareness for introverts working better on their own or in small, like minded groups. Without this awareness, the needs of introverts are not understood and introverts can be looked on from a critical, ‘less than’ perspective and in doing so skills and opportunities be overlooked.
From the meditation perspective awareness is what catches the mind from running off in its own dialogue and brings us back to the object of meditation. Without awareness in our meditation we get lost in the mind’s games and word plays. We need awareness to keep us focused, keep us on track and for the meditation to be of benefit. A meditation session with no awareness just becomes a spaced out session, just sitting back and watching the mind’s show. I’m not suggesting that you have to be completely focused 100% of the time, far from it. Meditation is that moment where you do catch yourself.
Many people do not realize that they have this monkey mind, charging off in all directions and we consequently become a slave to our minds. Without this awareness to the needs of the introverts or whoever the different groups are in your life, our interactions become reactions that are based in our old habits and beliefs.
Stop, breathe, look, ask.