Many years ago, I first heard this story about the Zulu tribe in Southern Africa. Apparently, when two people meet, the first will say “I am here”. The other answers, “I see you”. This was long before I started to practice mindfulness.
I read it again today in the book “The Now Effect” by Elisha Goldstein and I can sense the same response from many years ago. It triggers an emotional response of how often it can be automatic to fall into the habit of disconnection. This is a response that can be worked with and it is possible to dissolve the automaticity of disconnection to an intention of connection.
Elisha Goldstein suggests the following 3 step exercise.
First, when you first meet someone whether you know them personally or not, notice if you immediately make a judgment about the person. Bring a beginner’s mind to the encounter that supports an approach of open to seeing the person as if for the first time.
Second, consider what this person might want in that moment. The answer may be close to what you might want. Consider that the person would want to be treated kindly and to feel a sense of belonging.
Third, provide a small gesture that could fill that need. For example, a simple smile might suffice. If you get into a conversation, show some interest in the other person and practice mindful listening when they answer. If it is a loved one, tell him/her that you love him/her