Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Buddhism and the Art of Breaking Up.

"Simply touching a difficult memory with some slight willingness to heal begins to soften the holding and tension around it." ― Stephen Levine 

There must be something in the air these days. Some sort of much bigger ‘cosmic change.’ A transition to higher consciousness, perchance?

I suppose you’re wondering what it is that I am prattling on about? It’s just that, over the course of the last several weeks…everyone in my world seems to be ‘breaking up.’

Why, each day I am met with tear-stained messages – from friends desperately seeking some level of divine insight, and perhaps a little relief from their pain.

But, the truth is…there is no Buddhist ‘magic bullet.’

Most people don’t like hearing this. They want a quick fix, a spiritual analgesic of sorts…a ‘hurry up and let’s move on’ kind of pill. Sadly, our society has become so accustomed to speed – that we often fail to give ourselves the time and space to heal.

The bottom line, my dears, is that the only real way ‘out’ is ‘through.’

And, just how do we do that, you might ask? The getting through part?

Here’s just a few tips, I have collected through the years.

1. Treat yourself with honest gentleness.

Look, I don’t care what the books say on this topic – breakups are grueling, even for the most grounded of hippie Buddhists, like myself.

When we open our heart, we reveal all of our our bumps and bruises…our insecurities and deepest doubts…the weird things we do in the middle of the night. Oh, and the good stuff, too…my dears, that’s in their, too.

And then, the person we loved most in this world – seemingly and most simply just walks away.
I have been there, my dears… curled up in the farthest corner of the floor, wondering why and wishing for more.

Pain hurts, my dear…but it also heals, too.

For inside every frantically patched together tapestry of grief…there is love…kindheartedness and compassion.

And yet, for some reason, we tend to freeze inside our own pain – locking our emotional ‘door’ to the world, and hardening against a grief that is too awful to bear.

It’s this freezing that gets us stuck, convinced that we will never move on.

And while we are there, we fixate – on the only thing we have left to hang onto…

Our suffering.

Can you see the irony of this self-perpetuating cycle? We want to feel better, and yet we cling desperately to our grief…as if too afraid of the ‘what might happen next.’

My dears, no feeling is ever permanent – and I promise you, so long as you are willing to keep a little softness of heart…you will get through.

But, if you try to force your way through – you may end up missing the ‘lesson’ you needed most of all.

2. Allow yourself to feel those emotions (and only those emotions).

In the brilliant words of American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron: “Feel the feelings. Drop the story.”
Whatever you’re feeling, whichever emotions that might come into play – resist the urge to be so damned judgmental.

“If only…”

“Perhaps, if I were just a little more…”

Or, on the flip side of that emotional rainbow;

“How dare he/she…”

Yes, my dears…I have been there, too. And, I can tell you from my own experience that when we begin telling stories we run the risk of the story never being done.

We fall into the abyss of obsessive thinking, instead of dealing straight-on with our real pain.

Likewise, whatever you’re feeling…the anger, the resentment, the drop-to-your-knees sort of grief…it doesn’t make you a bad person. Those feelings are there for a purpose; trust in the process of your own revealing.

Remember, this is your experience…your path…your way forward.

And no one can define this for you. You must walk the path alone…in your own way…and in order to discover something about yourself, that you might not have otherwise ever uncovered.

So, stop telling yourself to ‘get over it’ – instead, allow yourself the opportunity to go through it.

3. Stay open.
“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes. ”Pema Chödrön
To keep an open heart during difficult times can prove to be our greatest challenge. But, that challenge can likewise yield the greatest reward.

As, when we’re able to keep our hearts open to others, including those ‘tyrants’ we feel have wronged us in some way, it softens us…and helps us to stay present. And, my dears, the moment that we close our hearts to this world – paralyzed by the fear of being hurt once again – is the moment our spirit begins to die.
It’s the staying open that makes this life so worthwhile.

4. Allow yourself to learn love’s lesson.

Everything that we experience is worthwhile.  Did you hear that? Do you understand what this means…?

It means, that we are a reflection of our cumulative experiences – the sum total of the lessons we learn along the way. And every relationship offers the potential for spiritual growth – be open to allowing that growth to occur.

When we are able to embrace all aspects of our relationships – the good, the bad…the ‘omg…did their nose always whistle that ways’ – allows us to build patience, respect…compassion…and loving-kindness also towards our selves.

And, that’s not something you could ever learn through a book. Let yourself settle into the peace of knowing, that you are learning love’s lesson in the most intimate of ways.

(spoiler alert) Somewhere out there in that great big world, someone else is learning this lesson, as well. And when it is that you finally meet (because, that’s how all good stories come into being), then…when you meet you’ll both be ready to love.

And love, for all the right reasons…and in the right way.

Because, in life, there are billions of the tiniest twists and turns – leading up to the moment that will someday steal your breath away.

If only we may have the courage to stay

Namaste, my most beautiful friends….