Presented with many social opportunities, I have taken the habit of using those times of togetherness to practice, in another way. I call it 'not self' practice.
At the day program where I now go a few days a week, the entire time can become a meditation if I choose to. Every elder, an unknowing teacher. Sitting quietly next to a person, or making small talk with another, I get to watch my own thoughts. I get to 'see' and feel the effect of the many 'I' centered ideas that cross my mind. Boredom, 'I' would like a better form of entertainment. Or 'I' bring a view of how things should go for the person in my care. Or 'I' doubt the value of such work, surely 'I' have important projects waiting at home. So many thoughts that have nothing to do with the reality of the moment . . . And each time, a subtle form of self-induced suffering, from letting the thoughting mill run amok and bringing in tensions in the body, and unnecessary stirrings in the heart.
At a party, talking to a stranger with a lengthy story, same thing. I catch myself, being tempted to think about 'me'. 'I' am wasting my time with this person, whispers the small voice. 'I' want to go with my friend instead. Or, 'I' wonder what's in it for 'me'? It's all about 'me', and after a few such iterations, mindfulness stops the mind right in its tracks, and allows for redirecting. Keeping mind on a leash has its sweet rewards. The pressure is off. Now, I can be fully present for whatever arises. I spend the rest of the night secretly observing mind at work, and saying thanks, but no thanks to all the other nascent 'I' thoughts. Such a lovely evening, it was . . .
How are you with 'I' thoughts?