According to William Ickes’ many years of peer-reviewed research on empathic accuracy, people can correctly infer the feelings and actual thought content of even complete strangers, around twenty percent of the time. If even strangers, who aren’t making any special effort, hover around twenty percent “mind reading” accuracy, it makes you wonder how high that percentage can go when two people are working together to share their inner experience.
In this practice, we use our capacity for empathic accuracy to do a special kind of meditation. When we meditate in the normal way , we’re experiencing our own “mindstream,” our personal, ongoing inner and outer flux of experience and sensation. By analogy, we can “meditate” upon another person’s mindstream instead of our own, i.e. “other mind meditation” or “another’s mindstream meditation,” which is what you can do here.
The way it works is that one person (Person A) meditates normally, and the other person (Person B) takes the perspective of Person A and infers/feels what Person A is experiencing. This could be feelings, thoughts, sensations, etc.. Person B reports what they’re inferring/feeling when taking Person A’s perspective, and Person A reports on Person B’s accuracy and provides Person B with information and feedback so Person B can become more accurate. So, there might be lots and lots of targeted conversation amidst the paying attention to experience, and that’s different than normal meditation. (And, by the way, there doesn’t have to be anything “psychic” or supernatural about this!)
When people do the practice, it might, if desired, eventually lead to a sense of connection, mutual understanding, “resonance,” even a sense of “group mind,” and more. Over time, this practice may enhance your individual meditation practice as well as have other benefits. We’re still exploring how to do the practice most effectively, and we’re also still learning what happens when you do it regularly over a long period of time.
Anyway, you don’t need special instruction or training. You can jump right in. You can click the link below and see if anyone’s around who wants to do it. (You can stay in the chat room, or move to skype, etc.) And you can download a cheat sheet to help you get started. One side is for the “meditator” and one side is for the “perspective-taker.” (There’s also a local meetup in Chicago, if you’re in the area.)
I’ve found, surprisingly, that being in person, in the same room, doesn’t dramatically enhance the experience. At least for me, there’s far less eye contact than I expected there to be. YMMV. Try it out!
Please comment below if you have any questions about the practice or if the chat room isn’t working right. I’ll eventually write up something longer to explore nuances and to help people get over the activation hump. But, really, this is a pretty informal thing, albeit possibly still kind of confusing. Don’t sweat it, just jump in, play around, shape the practice. I’m going to try to hang out in the chat room periodically. I’d like to be doing this a lot more than I am. (Feel free to hang out in the chat room for hours and hours in the background to see if anyone shows up, and feel free to have random side conversations.)