Caring too much?

Dear Integral Meditators,

If you think about mindfulness and meditation practice, you might think of it as a way of becoming more caring and more loving. However, our mindfulness may sometimes tell us that we need to care less. How does this work? The article below considers this question.

Those in Singapore a quick reminder of this Saturdays Mini ME Retreat Mindful Eating Retreat  that I will be doing with Tiffany Wee & Elaine Yang, & the workshop I will be doing on  Saturday December 2nd, 9.30am-12.30pm – The Six Qi Gong Healing sounds: Qi gong For Self-Healing and Inner Balance Workshop

In the spirit of balanced caring,
Toby


Caring too much?

If you think about mindfulness and meditation practice, you might think of it as a way of becoming more caring and more loving. However, our mindfulness may sometimes tell us that we need to care less. How does this work?
The principle of the middle way indicates that any virtue practiced to an extreme becomes a vice. Too much strength without gentleness can become cruelty. Too much work-ethic without rest becomes burn-out. Similarly, too much caring without the ability to detach and be objective can get in the way of both our happiness and effectiveness. Here are three examples:

1. If I have a deal that is important to my business, and I go into a meeting with the client caring too much about the outcome, the intensity of caring may cause me to speak impulsively and come across nervous to them. This may impact their confidence in me. If on the other hand I can combine my care about the outcome with a little more objectivity and lightness, I will be free to speak and act in a more optimal manner in the meeting.

2. When I spend time with my pre-teenage daughter, sometimes she is a delight; happy and  talking freely and enthusiastically. Other times there seems to be no way whatsoever to get a positive response from her during the entire time. If I care too much about her being happy, then every time she is difficult or miserable, then my over-caring will make it impossible for me to relax. I’ll be wanting to ‘fix’ her mood all the time. I won’t be able to just let her go through her moods in a natural way. If I can dial down the intensity of my caring being a little more objective, then I won’t take her mood so personally. I’ll enjoy it when she is happy, and when she is not, if there is nothing I can do to help, then I will be able to accept her position. I can allow her to go through her process of growing up in the way she needs to, without me ‘getting in the way’!

If in my romantic relationship I care too intensely about ‘fixing’ an issue that me and my partner are having, I may not be able to let the issue go. I may over analyse it, and keep bringing it up in conversation in ways that are detrimental to the relationship. Sometimes it works best to care a little less intensely, relax and give the relationship time and room to breathe.

Note to beware of: The flip side is not caring enough:
In all the above examples it would also be a bad thing

  • To be too flippant going into a business meet. If they think you don’t care, that’s equally likely to bring a bad result
  • If I am not watching my daughter’s mood with enough care, I may fail to see when an intervention is really the best thing to do
  • Sometimes it really is the best thing to do to bring up a difficult topic with our partner, and work through it even though it is confronting.

It is all about balance, and finding the level of intensity of care that is optimal to the circumstances. Another way of saying this is that too much caring becomes attachment, and attachment brings bad results.

Mindfulness practice – Dialing the intensity your care along a scale
To develop mindfulness around caring, in any given situation ask yourself ‘What is the optimal intensity of care that I need to bring here?’ Observe whether your care is too much and getting in the way, or not enough. Gently de-intensify or intensify the level of your care so that it is ‘right’ for the circumstance. Then proceed to do what you need to do, or not-do accordingly.

Related articles:
Transforming Our Attachment into Care
For Every Suffering a Joy (Cultivating Positive Non-Attachment)
Engaged Equanimity
Is calmer always better?

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Beginning 14th&15th November – Mastering your mind & thoughts through mindfulness – A five-week course

Saturday November 25th 10am-4pm – Mini ME Retreat #2 : Mindful Eating + Reiki Sound Bath with Tiffany Wee & Elaine Yang

Saturday December 2nd, 9.30am-12.30pm – The Six Qi Gong Healing sounds: Qi gong For Self-Healing and Inner Balance Workshop


Integral Meditation Asia

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