By Carol (An EASE Member) –
A few years ago my partner and I were having some serious problems in our relationship. There were times when both of us felt that we might not survive all the conflict. We decided to go to a marriage counselor. She asked us to write down what we thought was wrong with our relationship….. and suddenly I was struck with a feeling of utter exhaustion at the prospect of sifting through all the resentment and anger we both felt. The thought of it all made me feel hopeless and sad.
I cut the appointment short and walked out. We sat down that night and talked. It had suddenly become very obvious to both of us that what we wanted more than anything, was to find a way forward that didn’t mean walking away from the relationship – but it seemed that all the baggage we had collected over the years, was threatening to topple over and crush us.
We went to a new therapist. She was gentle and non-judgmental and at least provided us with a safe space where we could communicate without resorting to screaming at one another. She suggested a book called Buddha’s Brain to me and also sent us a link to a guided meditation website.
I had tried meditation at various points in my life but had not really connected with it, or made it a big part of my life. This time, I believe, because it was guided meditation, I felt an immediate connection. I knew that I had to have this space in my life, I needed the peace and consolation it provided.
We both began to meditate for about 30 minutes a day, at first together and then as time passed we developed our own rituals. We still meditate together sometimes but it’s often a solitary activity. Having said that, the experience of meditating with others is a pretty amazing feeling too. I read the book about Buddha’s brain. The book was amazing. I began to understand why I ‘suffered’ from such depression and anxiety – I had, given my own expectations too much importance, my expectations made it almost impossible for me to be happy.
One day I woke up and I felt, well, I suppose you would call it – exhilarated. This in itself is pretty unusual for me in the morning! Exhilarated……why? I suddenly understood that all of my precious pain was of my own making. There is no such thing as being disappointed in someone! The pain of disappointment, the stabs to my “heart” were completely of my own making. There is nothing wrong with the way other people are, it is only wrong because I make it so. I torment myself with paranoid thoughts of a world conspiring to make me miserable, when in actual fact everyone is just living their own lives.
I felt as though a huge burden had lifted! It no longer mattered that my partner had the nerve to once get angry with me because I wasn’t on time to pick him up, that he sometimes just checked out and didn’t feel like talking, or that he often left his clothes on the floor in the bedroom, or that he never apologized to me for forgetting my birthday once – for half a day! What chance do people you love and who love you, have to make you happy if you are always comparing their behavior to some standard you have created? (And that they are unaware of).
More importantly where do these standards and expectations come from? Half forgotten childhood experiences? the media? your parents? If you really think about it these things don’t really exist for any true reason that is applicable to our lives.
Can Meditation Improve my Relationship?
Yes! Meditation gave me insight into the many ways in which we suffer because we constantly crave to control what is happening around us. For example, if your lover doesn’t respond to you the way you imagine they should, it hurts. The real issue is not their behavior, but rather your expectations of them – that is where the pain comes from.
One of most amazing revelations I have experienced through meditation, and one that has really made a huge difference in my relationships, was this. Placing your own expectations, standards, beliefs … whatever on others is not only the wrong thing to do but it is the thing that hurts you the most.
If any of this rings true and you would like to read more about how meditation has changed everything for me, and how it benefits me daily, please read my next blog on this subject.