‘Tis the season for ….. imprinting?

Hawaii pool with blue water

I’ve been thinking about imprinting lately.  It was triggered by my noticing the whole body mark I made on a pool deck when I laid down wet. (oh, I was in a warm spot – Hawaii – when this happen in November!)  I was instantly struck with the thought that I’m making my mark on the planet.  That body imprint represented for me the reality that I make an impact wherever I go in whatever I do.  We all do.

It’s easy to not see that our actions have an effect. The truth is our relationship life is dependent primarily on the choices we make and the actions we take with our loved ones. Speaking kindly “marks” the heart of another with love.  Speaking carelessly will leave a care-less mark.  Human attachment and neuroscience studies show that the human brain is constantly scanning for the presence of the other, for acceptance, and for loving attention. This is what creates connection.  When we give less than what’s adequately registered in each category, the other feels it.  If we want to have loving relationships that provide nourishment and deep connection, we need to pay attention to our communications, choices, and actions. That’s just common sense, isn’t it?  And yet we all need reminding of it.  That’s ok.

Our day to day activities are dependent on the same thing.  This time of year the pace of life seems to be so fast that time isn’t taken to see, hear, taste, or feel fully.

Many of us also may not be aware that what we decide, choose, say, and do can make a big difference to another.  With our lives so full of things to do, decisions to make, activities to attend, work to be done, it’s no wonder that we don’t really pause to see the imprint we make. If we did, we could feel good about ourselves……or we might feel guilty or embarrassed by our choices and actions. That’s the outcome of not giving attention to this vital aspect of human existence.

I saw the positive outcome of this in action a couple of days ago when I took my granddaughters to their grandfather’s holiday choral concert.  They sat respectfully listening and I think for the most part enjoyed it.  But what they were thrilled at was seeing their grandpa on stage and having their waves to him returned.  They felt the connection with him and it was returned.  For them it seemed more important than the music.

My experience on the pool deck reminded me to not only pay more attention to the effect – the “after the fact” imprint; but more importantly, to use this awareness as a guide for choosing actions.  A good wonder question to ask is, “What’s the imprint I want to leave or the effect I want to have …on my significant relationships, the people I work with, or the encounters throughout my day?

About the author

Suzanne Kilkus

Suzanne Kilkus is a Soto Zen meditation practitioner and teacher and has practiced as a therapist and counselor for over three decades. She is dedicated to assisting people in expanding their capacity for giving and receiving love, and for recognizing and expressing their basic goodness in everyday life. Her path to live with wholehearted compassion and care is an invitation to everyone. She is a teacher with Open Door Zen Community in Madison, WI.