This is Post 31 in the ‘Meditation Guidance’ series. Summaries of the other articles in this series can be found by clicking here.
In interpersonal relationships, when we are reflecting silently about someone, especially someone we are concerned about, it is natural to engage empathetically using the the four perceptual components, or functions of Consciousness, in the following way:
‘How do they understand this situation?’ (Thinking); ‘How do they feel about this?’ (Feeling); ‘What is the need in them that is causing them to feel that way?’ (Intuition / Volition); ‘What solution would concretely fulfil that need in a practical way? (Sensation).
So, the mandala of the functions of Consciousness is not only an analysis of the process of perception – it is a framework to guide empathetic connection, communication and action. Those on the path of the inner life can also ask the same questions inside. In the intra-personal relationship between Consciousness and our psychological parts that I have been exploring in the last two posts (here and here), we have been acknowledging the enormous value of connecting self-empathetically in this way. When we do this work of inner empathy, it is the same four perceptual components, or functions of Consciousness, that provide us with a guiding framework.
Self-Empathy with a Companion
In self-empathy the whole process place takes place inwardly and does not have to be externally verbalised. If we were however, to bear witness to our internal self-empathetic connection by describing our experience to a spiritual companion who is ‘holding space’ for us, there are several ways we might approach it – but usually it feels best to silently connect with the part and then speak for the part as we describe our internal dialogue to our friend.
We might for example ask ourselves inwardly: ‘How is this part of me thinking about this situation? What is its point of view?’ (Thinking); ‘What does this part of me feel about this? What is the emotional history of this part, that it should feel this way?’ (Feeling); ‘What is the need that leads this part of me to feel that way?’ (Intuition / Volition); ‘What solution or strategy would concretely fulfil this part’s needs / my needs in a practical way? (Sensation).