On Discussions and Dialogues.

While speaking to a friend last evening, the topic of meditation and yoga came up.I mentioned to him that I had restarted practicing meditation last week. As soon as I told him that, he immediately brushed it off, and went on to say that meditation and yoga were useless and he did not believe it added any value.

 As we talked more about it, he asked more questions and I could sense that those questions were more from a place of ridicule or to hold on to his opinion or give a counter argument , than from a place of curiosity to know or understand more than what he already knew and felt about this topic. 

I responded to his questions by sharing my experience, my current awareness to to the one million thoughts scrambling in my head, moving and intermingling faster than light, and how I was slowly but surely beginning to experience more and more moments of space between those thoughts. And how that felt like floating in space but yet rooted to the earth.

Funnily enough, he had more ridiculing comments like, “so basically you go into this hypnotic space ? How do you come back from there ? And what’s the point of getting a just few moments of space in 24 hours of a day? The rest of the day is filled up with thoughts anyway. What difference will a few moments make ? And later he concluded that .. he had a list of things not to explore in life, yoga and meditation were on that list. 

Side note – right now I am contemplating on whether to shift the intent of this writing to meditation and my dance with it or stick to my original topic.

Anyway to yesterday ..

So, this went on for a while. He held on to his point of view, and I was surprised at how he could be so closed about meditation and yoga. From the pedestal that I was sitting on, I even told him how I was so disappointed in him and his views and that, this was not what I had expected of him. I felt as though he had ended up labeling something as negative without personally exploring it. I have fierce and strong arguments when it comes to categorizing things (whether a thing, feeling, thought perspective, action, deed, person) as right/ wrong or good/bad I can see a hundred of shades of grey between white and black. 

So back to my friend … the more he held on to his anti yoga / meditation view, the more I pushed and tried to convince him otherwise. In fact the visual I have in my head is of dragging him out of his house, pulling at his feet, while he kicked and screamed, holding on to anything and everything to keep him from being pulled away from what was home to him. 

At the end of it, he said ” You win, you are right, I give up”. I am convinced that it was my debating skills that made him say that, not because he got any new insights from the conversation or discussion we had. 😊

That is when I realized I was being no different. I too was being adamant about my view and on convincing him about it, not to mention ridiculing him for the position he was holding.

Why do we hold our perspectives so strongly as though that is THE right way ? More so why is there the need make someone else buy into our point of view ? And why do we only accept whose views are similar to ours ? And why do differences make us feel defensive ? And finally why do we label, define, categorize and everything we encounter into boxes. What can’t we just let things be ?

The key is to shift from discussions to dialogues. When we approach from the perspective of discussions, we are discussing about a particular topic, the focus is out there, so each of us feels like it’s our responsibility and duty to share our views and opinion on it, And if this happens to be group discussions, the popular and stronger opinion gets precedence. It has its own benefits in different contexts like planning etc  but sometimes the ‘heart’ element gets missed out. 

 On the other hand when we have dialogues, they happen between people. Even though there is a topic, the meaning of a dialogue is sharing between people, hence we listen for more, we are curious about what people say or do, why they do what they do, what had them come to a certain conclusion etc. In a dialogue we suspend our view, regardless of whether we agree to what’s being said or not, we stay open and curious. A dialogue gives room and space for differences. 

David Bohm introduced the concept of a dialogue, stating that a dialogue can be considered as a free flow of meaning between people in communication, in the sense of a stream that flows between banks.These “banks” are understood as representing the various points of view of the participants.

…it may turn out that such a form of free exchange of ideas and information is of fundamental relevance for transforming culture and freeing it of destructive misinformation, so that creativity can be liberated. – David Bohm

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.I’ll meet you there.” – Rumi

Sheena Yusuf 

19 August, 2017

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