Identifying Our Individual Needs
by Kevin Ryerson
Unless we can clearly define our needs, we can't fulfill them or communicate them to others. The best way to identify our needs is by meditating on them. If we calm ourselves and reflect deeply on the eight needs, any need that isn't being met will send off a little bell in our heads. For example, if you have difficulty articulating yourself, when you come to "right expression" you'll get a reaction to that. Or, if you're under too much stress at your job and have been sensing that it's time for a career change, a little bell will go off when you get to "right labor".
As a personal example, in my early days as a graphic artist, I noticed I was getting unusually fatigued. In one of my meditations it occurred to me that my fatigue might be a toxic reaction to the lead based paints I was using. When I shifted to water based paints the fatigue went away. So, through right meditation I was able to solve the problem without missing a day's work or having to consult a doctor.
In our meditations we can ask ourselves specific questions pertaining to each of the eight primary needs. This can be of great assistance in identifying our needs, since, drawing on principles of inductive logic, if we can forma particular question, the answer is already present within us. Following are some possible questions we might ask.
Right understanding. Am I happy in what I'm doing? Do I feel comfortable meeting new people? Am I open to new experiences? Do I impose my prejudices on others? Do I have strong principles that guide me in my daily actions? Do I behave in ways that might be masking fear (for example, am I boastful or arrogant)? If so, what situation trigger this behavior, and what is the cause? Do I avoid situations where I might have to confront my
Right labor. Am I happy in my work? Do I feel inspired and alive at my job? Does my work put undue stress on me? Is it serving myself and others in a way I can feel good about? Is it harnessing the full range of my talents? Are there talents I'm suppressing? Am I eager to return to work? Are my contributions appreciated? Does my job give me the flexibility to meet other needs in my life, or does it demand all of my time and energy? Am I preoccupied with other things when I'm at work? Do my coworkers constitute right fellowship for me? Do I feel clear and vital when I leave my workplace?
Right diet. Is my diet promoting health and well being? Is it vital? Does it meet my ethics and principles (i.e.vegetarianism, lacto-vegetarianism, and so on)? Do I have food allergies? Do I eat my meals leisurely, or do I bolt them down? Do I eat enough whole foods? Am I overly concerned about my weight or physical appearance?
Right fellowship. Are the people in my life promoting my well being or are they holding me back from pursuing my goals? Would it be better if I had more friends? What kind of people am I drawn to? Is my thought process stimulated by the words of a particular individual, or by the association with certain people? Can I express the full range of my talents with the group of people who are currently active in my life? Do I have a high trust level with my current friends? Are the relationships in my life based on honesty and openness? Do my friends reflect my values and principles?
Right expression. Do I articulate myself well? Do I feel people really hear and understand me? Am I talking to people or at them? Am I adequately communicating my needs to others? Am I saying one thing with my mouth and something else with my body? Does my style of dress express who I am? Am I too impulsive in my communications? Too measured? Am I afraid to express my true feelings to others? Does shyness or lack of
Right prayer. Do I feel comfortable going into an inner presence? Do I take the time to have a deep communion with God? Do I remember to pray for others as well as myself? Do my prayers seen to help in any way, or do they seen empty or unfulfilled? Do I feel the divine presence when I pray? Do I respect others' right to pray as they choose?
Right mind. Can I identify the nature of my own thought process? Do I use it to my advantage? Do I recognize its limitations? Do I thrust onto other people my own method of arriving at solutions? Can I respect the thought processes of the people around me, even when they differ from my own? Do I always have to be right? Can I put myself into someone else's shoes to see things as they see them? Do I hold one method of thought to be superior to the others (e.g. analytical is superior to intuitive, or vice versa)?
Simply by asking these kinds of questions, we can learn a great deal about ourselves and discern how successful we've been at meeting our need. This is why right meditation can be the key to helping us fulfill all the others. Pay attention to your dream states, as well. Frequently our dreams will try to tell us which of your needs aren't being met. For example, you might have a dream in which you fight with your boss and storm out of his office. This could indicate that you have pent-up frustrations concerning your work situation and need to "close the door on it". Many people dream they are standing in front of an audience, naked. This often speaks of fears of being seen by, or expressing ourselves to, others. A dream that we're being chased by a ferocious animal yet we cannot run or scream could be speaking to a profound fear of the unknown. The best way to interpret what our dreams are saying to us is to examine them in a quiet meditative state and see what comes up. A dream journal is also quite helpful, since often we need a little distance from our dreams to see them clearly. After a passage of time, the symbols in our dreams have less of an emotional charge and can be easier to read. We might even see patterns or interrelationships between the dreams, which will give us a broader perspective.
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