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Even though we don’t know them, strangers have value. Like us, they want to be happy and free from suffering. We may not think about a stranger's perspective as we go through our daily life, but doing so can enhance a feeling of connection to the world around us.
Noticing the positive qualities of strangers can drastically change our perspective in a new direction. Shifting out of your own thoughts and noticing the people around you is the first step to opening yourself up to connection. Then, considering the things you may have in common can help you see strangers in a new light.
In this five minute practice, we consider the common ground we have with strangers to be happy and free from suffering. Listen to this guided practice from Daniela Labra Cardero.
Guided Practice: Valuing Strangers
Led by Daniela Labra Cardero
Hi, this is Daniela. Thanks for joining me. In this practice, we’ll explore how we see other people, and in particular, people we don’t know. Just like us, and just like the people we care about, they want to be happy and free from suffering. So let's dig in and see what comes up.
To start, get into a comfortable and relaxed position. Bring your attention to the present and be aware of the sensations of the body.
And now, think about why you’re doing this practice. You can form a clear motivation - something personal. Like, “I’m going to do this practice so that I can appreciate the people in my life, even those I don’t know.”
Close your eyes and allow your body to relax. Take a deep breath, and when you exhale release any tension you might be holding in your body or mind.
Now let your breath flow naturally. Each time you exhale, let go of the need to do anything, and settle into just being. There’s nothing to change or improve. You can appreciate this very moment.
The main point of this practice is to see that we all share a wholesome desire to be happy, peaceful and healthy, and we want to avoid suffering and difficulty. Here, we are going to do this with people we don’t know well.
Bring to mind an acquaintance or someone you see regularly, but don’t know very well. Imagine them here with you - make this vivid and detailed. Notice how they share the same basic desires to be happy and free from suffering.
They have successes and failures, just like you.
And they probably act wisely at times, and do things they regret at other times, just like you. Appreciate this common ground you share.
Okay, if your eyes were closed, you can open your eyes and look around. As you open them, don’t try to do anything with your attention, just it rest naturally and appreciate this state of being.
Good! Congratulations for doing this practice. We all share these basic desires to be happy and free from hardship. So, as you walk around today and interact with people, think about this and see if you can get a. sense of this motivation that you share with them. Reflecting in this way is a skill, so practice it. Good luck, and see you soon for another practice.
Awareness. Connection. Insight. Purpose. We consider these to be four ingredients of a healthy mind. You can train yourself to improve these skills, just like you can develop any habit. This audio practice is provided by Healthy Minds Innovations (HMI), an external, affiliated nonprofit dedicated to supporting the mission of the Center for Healthy Minds. Want more practices? Try the Healthy Minds Program App.