My marriage is probably one of the things I am most proud of. My husband and I are both strong, passionate people with lots of opinions and no shortage of expressing them. Figuring out how to navigate the ebbs, flows, and sparks has been a learning curve.
I’ve shared my philosophy before that there are no right or wrong choices…and in a relationship, there are no right or wrong people. Why we even try to label one person as right/good when we disagree really makes little sense—although I have spent lots of energy doing just that. It was a eureka moment for me when I realized that instead of spending energy blaming, I could redirect that energy to understanding—we were both better off.
So in the midst of this contrived day of sharing love or reflecting on the love you want to share—I have been reflecting on the harder edges that sometimes derail those loving feelings. Sometimes in a mate or a friend, we bump up against edges and it is more comfortable to run from those edges, rather than drink them in and understand why they hurt so much.
I do that…I will meet someone who irritates me—“rubs me the wrong way” and my gut reaction is to move away. Get space. Escape. But what if I didn’t. What if I stayed in that place of discomfort. Is there something there for me?
The Buddhist monk, Pema Chodron, talks about how everything you encounter on your path leads to your enlightenment. That wisdom about the pain and rough edges is important. She suggests that you get intimate with those moments. Embrace the pain. Sit with it. Stare it down. Her thinking: the more intimate you are with those moments—the greater you understand why things hurt you, scare you, anger you—the easier it is to let go of the pain and actually be with others. To be in a relationship--or friendship without feeling pain and then to truly be:
"As we learn to have compassion for ourselves, the circle of compassion for others -- what and whom we can work with, and how -- becomes wider."
Imagine being freed from the emotional baggage that causes you to retreat—whether it be emotional or physical retreat. The thought is very freeing to me. And the more people I talk to, the more surprised I am to learn how many people suffer through daily anxiety in a myriad of social situations. Imagine the peace if the edges softened and intimacy felt more comfortable?
I noticed some edges on me last night at yoga. The room was particularly hot. The teacher did not offer relief by opening the doors. He was not speaking very loudly or clearly, so I didn’t always know when a posture was complete. And he was holding postures too long—at least in my opinion.
In the midst of my irritation and my focus on all these negative thoughts, I stepped back for a moment. I asked myself what is this about and why am I letting it make me go negative? I didn’t exactly have an answer, but what I did realize was that the teacher offered me something and it had nothing to do with the heat or my discomfort or the yoga.
What the teacher was teaching me—while I bumped against these hard edges that would make me want to retreat—was to be exactly in the moment in the studio. In my irritation, I forgot about all the garbage that filled my head prior to class and all I could do was focus on the exact moment of every posture. I focused to hear his voice. I focused on my quads when Triangle pose seemed to last forever. I was IN those moments.
What a gift he gave me. The gift of mindfulness. And not just the gift of being in that moment, but the gift to realize that in my discomfort, there may be something there for me.
Once again, from those painful moments…growth, enlightenment.
When I wrote my Valentine to my husband this morning, it was all about the edges we felt this week. It was about how wonderful it felt to feel so upset with him—pushed to some very uncomfortable places and have the confidence and comfort that we would both be interested enough to find out what was making us both so, well, “edgy”…It was the edgy that brought us closer and more appreciative and more trusting.
So I share this Valentine with you: may you be curious about everything, especially those moments that might terrify or pinch. May you have faith that in those moments, there may be something there for you—a lesson that teaches you about yourself and offers you greater peace. May you fill your life with friends and others who care enough to share your curiosity. Namaste’