A few months ago, when I first began using the app Calm, I stumbled across a meditation labeled “Sonder”. I had no idea what that word meant, but I had a feeling that it was the right one for me to meditate to that day. As I do every time I meditate, I closed my eyes and focused in on my breathing. I felt extra in touch with my breathing, and then the definition of a word that I had already felt was described to me.
Sonder is the realization that every passerby is living a life as vivid as yours. Every single person that we see every day has the same feelings that run through us. It is almost hard to imagine someone living a life as complex as yours- having goals, friends and family, hardships, and joy. It is SO easy to sometimes undermine the feelings of others, not even thinking twice on how you could be hurting them.
I have walked in the mall before, watching everyone pass me, thinking “I wonder what is going on in their head”. Seeing someone looking upset or hurt, realizing so much could be going on in their life in that exact moment. I could make myself crazy making up situations in my head, about myself and others, so sonder truly was something that I have felt for years. What I got out of that meditation, was that being mindful of the emotions of everyone is what we all need. I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, even if they do not react to situations the way I feel is right. Even if someone is rude or short with you, the troubles they could be facing may be much deeper than you could even imagine.
From the simple meditation I truly learned that we should keep an open and optimistic mind when dealing with the people surrounding us. You never can fully understand the troubles and the triumphs of strangers, or even those close. Keep your heart and mind open, and try to treat everyone with the love and patience that you hope to have reciprocated towards you!