PART 4 Interpersonal exercises
I began applying that same level of awareness that I applied to my inner self to my interpersonal interactions. I would “rehearse” interactions by slowing down a conversation with someone to investigate the meaning of each word and each gesture. Being in a sacred place one can redefine convention thus making any layer of consciousness normal. If it could be investigated, I would investigate it. My practice involved breaking each item that entered my awareness down into it’s various components and then putting it back together. The ashram(yoga center) was a laboratory for this work.
In my life before this, I found the experience of eye contact with another person to be a very uncomfortable experience. In my yoga laboratory, I would practice prolonged periods of eye contact with willing participants to explore and “solve” this discomfort. I’d set the timer for 30 or 40 minutes and we would hold eye contact. If you’ve never tried this, can you imagine what it would be like? This practice is worthy of its own blog post(in the works.) Humans are complex multilayered beings and these layers can be seen if enough time is taken to see them. These experiences affirmed the depth that I suspected was in me and in others.
A related set of practices that I also did were the inquiry practices of Ramana Maharshi. This practice involved sitting across from another person and simply asking them “Who are you?” They would take 5 minutes to answer and then they would ask you the same question. After 8 rounds of this we would take a break and then do another set of rounds. The depth of this exercise occurs in unraveling the layers of how we think about ourselves. The practitioner may start by identifying him/herself with a certain occupation or with a certain race or religion. As layers unfold, the subject finds him/herself immersed in the great mystery of what it is to be a human.