Meditations for Difficult People: Exercises to Protect Against Draining Relationships
Difficult people or times in a relationship are an unfortunate part of life. The following three meditations protect from such encounters, so one feels empowered and aware instead of drained and scared.
Judith Orloff’s Heart Meditation
Dr. Judith Orloff, psychiatrist and energy healer, recommends focusing on one’s own heart to boost energy, especially when dealing with difficult people.
The following adaptation of Orloff’s Three Minute Heart Meditation focuses on the beat of one’s own heart.
- Sit or stand comfortably. Notice the breath, and focus on slowing it.
- When breathing slowly, place the dominant hand over the heart. Imagine the heart beating and pumping against the palm of the hand.
- As the heart beats, close the eyes for a second and visualize a warm, bright light radiating from one’s heart. Keep imagining the heart pumping and the warm light growing warmer and brighter.
- Continue until the light completely surrounds the body.
- Now imagine a much-beloved person, place, or memory. Bathe that image in the light around the body, and see if the light grows brighter as one thinks of the image.
- When ready, focus again on the hand over the heart. Breathe deeply three times, and open the eyes.
The heart meditation can be practiced anywhere or anytime one has a free hand. One may desire to try it during or before a conversation with a difficult person to see how the exercise changes one’s perspective on the situation.
Blocking the effects of a negative person or encounter can prevent one from feeling drained and hopeless. The following visualization invites one to visualize a protective shield between him/her and a difficult person or situation.
- Breathe deeply in, and on the exhale visualize a blast of white light coming out of the mouth.
- Watch as the light forms a tall shield between the self and the difficult person or situation.
- Breathe in and out, and notice how strong the shield is, how it is curved towards you, and how nothing from the difficult person or situation is able to harm you.
- Look at the person or situation through the shield. Has your perspective changed?
When the threat has passed, or when one feels in control of the situation again, breathe in the shield of light, knowing that one can exhale it again at any time when needed.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s Compassion Meditation
Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace advocate Thich Nhat Hanh recommends seeing a situation through another’s eyes to increase compassion and understanding. The following adaptation of Hanh’s Compassion Meditation can be practiced in two parts, focusing on one’s own feelings surrounding a situation and focusing on the difficult person’s feelings.
Try this meditation to increase awareness about a difficult or frustrating relationship. The exercise works best with a person one knows well. Note that this meditation will invite deep reflection and self-awareness that may not necessarily be relaxing, though it certainly will bring healing in a relationship.
- Sit comfortably, with ten or more minutes to spare. Breathe in and out slowly and carefully.
- Bring to mind the person who is difficult. How does one feel about this person- angry, frustrated, or depressed? Sink into those feelings a little, and let them come.
- Hanh teaches that all anger has roots in past anger. Take a few minutes to notice any memories that may surface as one focuses on his/her anger. Spend some time sinking into those memories and letting them heal, if the experience is not too unpleasant.
- When have an understanding of one’s own feelings in the exchange, now focus on the person that is driving you crazy. What is his/her point of view? Try to get inside that person’s world to understand him/her better.
- What might the other person be feeling in this situation? Let those feelings come, too. Are they similar to the feelings you are having? What do you both have in common?
- If know that person well, imagine past experiences they have had that might lead them to be angry or unpleasant to you. Let those images flow and come.
- When have a clear idea of one’s own anger, as well as the other person’s anger, stop and place the right hand over the heart. Rest it there for a minute. Feel the heart beating.
- Now visualize a ball of warm light around the self. Extend the right hand towards the other who has caused pain and frustration. Watch as the ball of light extends around him/her. Bring the hand back to one’s own heart and see the light coming back to the self.
- Rest for several minutes in the light. When ready, open the eyes.
This meditation may bring up information that is useful for personal reflection. Keeping a journal or piece of paper nearby may also be helpful.
Draining people are a part of life, but with meditation, their negative effects can be minimized.