Choosing your reactions just takes a little mindfulness.
In the relationship meditation you tell us to think of the “speck of sunlight” in the middle of our chest. That’s fine. Then you ask us to remember a time where we did something that was really appreciated by another person, replay that in our mind. Then to remember what that person looked liked/said in acknowledgement, to “remember that feeling.” Are you saying remember how I felt when I saw/heard that person’s appreciation? Or how that person probably felt? I’m assuming the former, but I wanted to confirm. Do you have any tips on how to really nail this technique?
Yeah, when you write it all out like that it sounds like a lot of things to do all at once right?! In some ways it is, but in other ways not so much. Learning to drive the car is a good analogy. When we first begin we are thinking about turning the ignition, checking the mirrors, making sure it’s in neutral, putting the clutch down (yes, I’m from the land of stick-shifts), looking over our shoulder to check for traffic, etc.
But as we continue to practice, with someone experienced sitting by our side and giving us guidance, then we start to drop that internal dialogue. It is not that we change what we do, but rather that it just becomes so familiar that we no longer need to think about each action. And the process of learning a visualization technique like this is not so different. To begin with, it’s a lot, but in time it feels very natural, very comfortable.
In answer to your specific question, most definitely, it is the former. It is really no different from a memory and something we do all the time. It’s just that usually we don’t take the time to really experience the feeling. As for “really nailing” the technique, I would maybe look at the objective in a slightly different way. Rather than trying to perfect the technique, which takes many years of practice and like any other kind of skill can always be refined further, enjoy simply turning up each day.
By this I mean, what does it feel like to simply sit with that feeling? What happens when you no longer project what you would like to happen or feel in the meditation and are simply present with the experience of that day? What does it feel like when you forget any idea of nailing the technique and instead approach each session with a healthy sense of curiosity? If we can bring these qualities to our practice then not only does the technique tend to move along quite organically, but it is also much more enjoyable.