We ask each other this question all day long. It is the same with strangers we pass in the street, grocery store clerks, friends, and family. It is used so often that the connotation no longer suggests a sincere inquiry into the mental and emotional state of whomever we use it towards. So we weakly answer with our stored replies, ignoring our truth:
And just as bad as that, the ones who ask — the kind stranger or close friend — provides their stored response to your stored response:
So what’s the deal…is this a useless and outdated greeting or can turn it into a vehicle of connection?
I started thinking about this topic earlier today while listening to a Dharma talk of the same title by Gil Fronsdal. I’ve taken it in a different direction than he covered — but the advice he gives towards the end of the talk can be applied in this area as well. He suggests that we use the interactions as a “meditation bell” to bring us back to ourselves, back to the awareness of who we are and what we are doing. This gives us another way to practice mindfulness away from the cushion and in the world. It turns the focus away from the external and meaningless towards the internal and meaningful.
How are you?
Present….. Aware…… Sentient…… Here.
Very well then my friends. Tell me,
How Are YOU?