“Stop Breathing on My Neck. I’m Trying to Be Compassionate.”

nostril breathe on my neck

Photo credit: -sel / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

How to obtain peace when other people are around.

Listening to Adyashanti explain how resistance causes our suffering, I could not focus because some guy behind me was breathing like a hot furnace.

“Meditation ended 20 minutes ago, Mister. Give it a break!” I caught myself thinking.

I could feel his humid breath on the back of my neck and smell traces of rancid basil and olive oil just below my nostrils. Fittingly, Adyashanti was telling a story about how his lazy boss really got on his nerves when he was younger.

“Then I realized that I was not focusing on reality. I was focusing on what I thought reality should be,” Adyashanti said (not in those exact words). The reality was that his boss was lazy. The suffering came from Adyashanti’s desire for his boss to be something he wasn’t–productive, helpful, understanding. Adyashanti was resisting the reality of who his boss was.

In my mind, I had created all kinds of stories about the guy behind me. He was an insecure meditator who felt the need to alert everyone around him that he could meditate not just for the perfunctory 15 minutes, but for the entire 2 hour talk.

“Hell is other people.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Peace isn’t that hard to obtain when you are by yourself or sitting in meditation. It is other people that constantly disturb my peace. Now I realize that it is not the other people but my resistance to those others that cause my suffering. If I just let other people be who they are, then I don’t get upset.

Slow drivers can just be other humans on the road to happiness. Insecure egomaniacs are just mirrors of my own insecurity and over compensations. Like disturbing thoughts, I attach no stories or desires to them and let them float away. Well, at least that is the practice.

Deepak Chopra said his life became full of joy the day he decided to not be offended any more. So my challenge to myself and anyone interested is to go one hour in the presence of PEOPLE (Dogs don’t count) without getting offended. I did a test run tonight, and it is a lot harder than it seems.

Thank you for reading, smiling, and/or sharing.

How are you most offended? Please share.


53 comments on ““Stop Breathing on My Neck. I’m Trying to Be Compassionate.”

  1. 1EarthUnited says:

    Great point Kozo! Even back during ancient times, the real proving ground is in the marketplace, not the monastery. It’s probably truer today simply because there’s more of “us” around, lol.
    One day at a time my friend, and enjoy your practice Luke, the force is strong! 😀 ☼♥☼

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Thank you, my Princess Leia. I love the history of the proving grounds. It reminds me of Rumi in the marketplace spinning around inventing the Whirling Dervishes.
      More of “us” just means more love to spread. {{{Hugs}} kozo

  2. I’m most offended when someone personally attacks me or someone close to me. Especially if I feel myself or said person has done nothing wrong.

    You made some great points here, Kozo. There are just some aspects of life we cannot change, & shouldn’t bother.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Love your comment, J. Buddhist call when we feel attacked for doing nothing wrong being an “innocent victim.” And this is supposedly the doorway to spiritual growth. If you think about it, the Dalai Lama is an “innocent victim” and look how much he has done. Guess you are on the path to greatness, J. {{{hugs]}} kozo

  3. So much wisdom as usual Kozo. Hugs to you dear friend 🙂

  4. Bastet says:

    Reblogged this on Bastet and Sekhmet and commented:
    Wonderful post…something to remember thank you everydaygurus!

  5. Reblogged this on Phoenix Flights and commented:
    I love this blogger, his insights, honesty and observations, and this post made me smile, albeit somewhat wryly.
    Being out of the workplace at this moment in time, I currently have the luxury of being able to avoid most of those irritating ‘other people’ as I can, for the most part, pick and choose who I want to be around, but know that it’s only a matter of time when I am catapulted amongst them again and will have to put up with their annoying shit and not take them down, either physically or verbally :-s
    Being something of an intolerant, easily offended biatch who takes everything personally (I’m HSP with attitude), I’m certainly going to give this a try, but I’ll know I’ve reach a spiritual landmark if I can do it (a) at rush hour on the Tube (b) on a bank holiday in Ikea, or (c) in a packed cinema populated with (i) popcorn rattlers, (ii) iPhone addicts and (iii) fidgets/seat kickers/elbow nudgers, all which tend to make me nigh on homicidal with suppressed rage.
    Which is better than my limited edition ‘expressed’ variety, believe you me…..
    I will, however start small and test it out at my local park. At 6.30am. When it’s closed to the public.
    One day at a time, sweet Jesus….. 😉

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Just followed your blog, Sista Sertraline. You are a breath of fresh air. Your honesty, wit, and awareness make life richer—I know you don’t always see it that way.
      Thanks for the reblog. My son is an HSP (and so was I until it was beaten out of me), so I feel you, Sista. Hope the park at 6:30 a.m. brings peace. Watch out for that one other person who decides to go to the park early—the nerve of them.
      I have to agree with you about Ikea. Something about the false serenity coupled with a maze-like restrictive exit path make me want to just smash some Dagstorp dishes over everyone’s heads.
      So grateful to have met you, my HSP friend. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

      • I know, people existing in my world and breathing MY oxygen! How very dare they…. 😉

        Thank you Kozo, you too, you have this uncanny knack of blogging about things that really resonate in my life, so I am an avid reader of your posts, respect and learn from your insights and look forward to continuing to do so xxxx

  6. Geo Sans says:

    I used to really have
    problems accepting
    being open
    to listening
    to learning
    I’ve slowly discovered
    I can make my life
    my skills
    a little bit better
    at times
    it is still so hard
    to listen
    without making excuses
    or being
    but I’m trying …

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I just finished recording an audio program that discusses this, Geo Sans. I call it “Ahimsa” conflict resolution. (Ahimsa is non-violence). Can we be open-hearted in the face of attacks without defending or retaliating? This is the practice, and I agree that it can be very difficult at times.
      Grateful for your wisdom, AGAIN. {{Hugs}}} Kozo

  7. lauriesnotes says:

    Yes, sometimes I dream of going off to the desert. But the coach I work with reminds me that we are trying to do something that really hasn’t been done..being in everyday life in this new way.
    My daughter recently started school at a school I have worked at and there are a couple of people there who really trigger me. It has been a challenge to see them as a mirror,
    Love the floating away image. I will use that. Thanks.
    Love –

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      The desert isn’t all bad, Laurie. Jesus went there for a spell, but he did come back. We still have to come back. I consider my meditation practice my desert. I come back, get offended, react, feel guilty, then go back to the desert. Everyday, however, the amount of offense or reaction gets smaller. We are all works in progress. Glad to be walking the Path with you. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

      • lauriesnotes says:

        Me too. Ya, I go back to the desert too. 🙂 In my little town house. Yes, the reaction seems to be getting smaller. I still get shocked out of my skin at times. But it doesn’t last as long..and I am meeting some great folks. Thankful for that. I went thru that place where I was pretty much alone. I focused within for like 2 years..now I am determined not to get lost as I return –
        My daughter is loving kindergarten and I continue to follow my heart as to what is next.
        Honored to walk with you.

  8. NIKOtheOrb says:

    Be here now, once said a wise man. 🙂

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I’m looking at Ram Dass’s book right now, Niko. It is so simple. When I think of you, I think of nature and symbiosis. Maybe we need to offend each other less and help each other more like symbiosis. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  9. KM Huber says:

    One of your best, Kozo! Accepting people as they are–no more, no less–is amazingly difficult, just as you say. I particularly like your point about those traits being a mirror for ourselves, because I believe that is why we react rather than just be. I am taking you up on your challenge this very day as I am attending the first meeting of a writers group. We’ll probably meet for two hours but if I can manage thirty minutes of staying even, I will be ecstatic. Actually, fifteen minutes may be my max. This post could not be more timely for me. As always, your writing is thoughtful and thought-provoking. It’s great to have you back!

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Thank you, Karen. Hope you have a peaceful and productive writer’s meeting. I’ve noticed how peaceful and productive often go hand in hand. Your writer’s meeting reminds me of the twitter meetings we used to have when I first met you. So grateful. {{{Hugs]}} Kozo

      • KM Huber says:

        Just got home, Kozo, and the meeting was the best initial writers meeting I have ever had, and I have had a few. As I said, your post was a timely reminder for me, indeed a breath of fresh air. Thank you, my friend. I, too, enjoyed those Twitter meetings.
        Hugs to you,

  10. smallpebbles says:

    Well, somehow your post brought to mind this well-known reminder:
    Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

    Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
    Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    where there is injury,pardon;
    where there is doubt, faith;
    where there is despair, hope;
    where there is darkness, light;
    and where there is sadness, joy.

    O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
    to be consoled as to console;
    to be understood as to understand;
    to be loved as to love.
    For it is in giving that we receive;
    it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
    and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Love Francis d’Assisi. Love this prayer, especially “For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
      and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” I’m trying to live my life/run my business with these tenants. Thank you so much for this wonderful comment. {{{Hugs]}} Kozo

  11. kaycers says:

    Great post! I like the question you asked…

    I am most offended when I feel someone is insulting my intelligence. It can be slight, such as “did you think about this?” If the “this” is something obvious I reply with a snarky or sarcastic comment. I don’t know why it bothers me so much.

    I also get offended when I feel left out. If my husband doesn’t want to participate in what I am doing, and I think he should, I feel upset and/or hurt. Again, when I think about it later I don’t know why and it just seems silly!

    I will try to follow Chopra’s lead! Thanks for this thoughtful post!

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Thanks for the honsety, Kaycie. Your point about your husband reminds me of Adyashanti’s point about giving up resistance to how other people are. I often think that others should do this or that which causes me suffering. Adyashanti advises to just love them for who they are. Not an easy task, I know. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  12. Many Little Drops says:

    I am most offended when I am most insecure, when my level of self-loathing is high. Which means, it is me, not them! (Dang it!, lol)

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      haha, Shala. I am with you 100%. When I’m most insecure, everything offends me. Guess we have to keep realizing that we are Buddha, enough, love, God. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

      • Many Little Drops says:

        Oh, THAT’s all, lol I’ll keep reminding YOU, if you’ll keep reminding ME:)

  13. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Lack of personal space just gets to me. Give me a minute when paying to type in my PIN or sign for my items. It can be subjective, especially depending on how you were raised, so I try to time my visits to stores now based on how crowded they might be, though that doesn’t work so well on paydays or now with back to school shopping.

  14. This post couldn’t have come at a better time Kozo. EVERYONE around me seems to be dressed in a prickly cactus costume. Ughh…its me and I need to try harder so THANKYOU for the gentle reminder… ((( hugs)))) Kimberly

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      LOL at the image of prickly cactus costumes, K. Glad I could be gentle, because according to your comment, I, too, am wearing a cactus costume. {{{gentle Hugs}}} Kozo

  15. cindy knoke says:

    Yes this is something I struggle with too at times~

  16. Alison says:

    You went to Adya! Isn’t he wonderful?!! ❤ ❤ ❤
    I die of happiness just thinking of him.
    It's *never* the other person 🙂
    I like Byron Katie's question too – How do you know "X" is exactly the way he/she is meant to be? Because it's the way he/she is.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Thank you, Alison, for sending me his way. I have a whole bunch of ideas from his talk. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I came home from the Satsang and immediately looked up when he was coming back.
      Holy cow, I just looked up Byron Katie. Looks like I’m going to have to find a way to one of her sessions as well.
      You are an angel, Alison. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

      • Alison says:

        She’s not my fave, but pretty close to the top, and has this fabulous structure called “The Work” for breaking down all the limiting entrenched mind stories. I really encourage you to look at it. And, yes, get yourself to a session with her. She’s wonderful and extraordinary.

  17. Hello Kozo! Excellent post my friend! I like what you say here. I practice this myself. I used to get very irritated with people in the past. I would think to myself: how could anyone be so stupid?! As I grew and matured I learned that most people don’t want to be irritating and that empathy was something I was sorely lacking. I now know that I can be stupid myself and irritating and that one can learn from everyone.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      So true, Nancy. Maybe we can change our thoughts from “How can anyone be so stupid?” to “How I can I lack so much empathy?” haha. Thanks for your honest and wise comment. {{{hugs]} Kozo

  18. kasturika says:

    Some time back, one of my colleagues was venting out her frustration regarding the kind of people she had to speak to over the phone. ‘These South Indian are so rude!’ Being a South Indian myself, I didn’t react to her opinion. It didn’t bother me, because her opinion was based on her interactions with certain people, it was sheer stress, which made her stereotype them. I had quickly forgotten the conversation, until a couple of days ago, when she sent me a message. ‘Hey, You remember that day, when I said those things about the phone calls?’ she wrote. ‘Well, I probably shouldn’t have said some things that day, and I didn’t know you were a South Indian too… But you didn’t react at all! I’m really sorry about that.’

    Your question about being offended actually reminded me of this incident – which is actually the exact opposite of what you asked! But just felt like sharing it 🙂

  19. Stuck Sucks says:

    Such a good distinction. I need to write this on my eyelids to remember when it counts! “It is not the other people but my resistance to those others that cause my suffering.” Thank you!

  20. BroadBlogs says:

    “Now I realize that it is not the other people but my resistance to those others that cause my suffering. If I just let other people be who they are, then I don’t get upset.

    Slow drivers can just be other humans on the road to happiness.”

    I like that quote because slow drivers are my biggest– Or at least most common – blockage here.

    And it’s interesting how dogs don’t bother us. If we could only think of people that way.

  21. Great challenge here…1 hour. I shall try it with fingers crossed! *wink*

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I haven’t made it a full hour yet. IG4AW. 😦
      It is such a difficult practice for me, especially when I am driving around Silicon Valley. Good luck. {{hugs}}}Kozo

  22. Rohan 7 Things says:

    Haha, I know what you mean! When we live in the world how it “should” be, we are pretty miserable. When we live in the world how it IS things go a lot smoother. Doesn’t mean life becomes easy, or perfect, but at least we can make informed choices and decisions when we’re dealing with how things are instead how we want them to be!

    And yeah, I’ve seen it a lot in my own life. When I try to get people to do what I think they should do I always end up frustrated, and they feel inferior. When I look at what the already CAN do and get them to focus on that everyone ends up much happier!

    Great post, and the 1 hour challenge sounds very interesting, will try to keep that in mind 🙂

    Big hugs!


    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I love how you simplify my cryptic posts. It is simply to stop thinking in shoulds and living in “IS.” I also like your point about seeing what others CAN do and focusing on that.

      {{[Hugs}}} kozo

      Listening to “She Came from Outer Space” as I type. I LOVE that song.

  23. Cathy G says:

    So astute, Kozo! I admit I would be challenged by this. I’m sensitive about having “my space invaded” so I imagine I would not do so well! That said I am trying to be more forgiving – a definite work in progress! …and yes, if I could just chill out under those circumstances I would probably have enjoyed myself more in many instances…amazing what we learn about ourselves if we only open our eyes!

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