Dhammalogue no. 3

Our Dhammalogue this week brings up family and hurt feelings, how to work through them and heal that primary relationship that so often sets the tone for all those who follow...
Dhammalogue no. 3
Jenny: Hi Igor

Igor: Hello my love

J: I thought today we'll turn the tables and I'll interview you, how's that?

I: OK, shoot!

J: To follow up the theme of some the blog entries from last week I would like to ask you about forgiveness.

I know that you had a lot of difficulties with your parents when you were younger, and I feel so proud to see you today, truly enjoying spending Christmas with them, having so skilfully moved past your hurtful history and instead now have beautiful, honest, loving relationship. How did you do that?
I: I didn't do that, we did, it's a two way street. For me the key factor is to realise that I am not forced to keep any relationship, that I do it by choice, I choose to spend time with my parents because I love them very much. It's just to keep looking at that instead at all the other stuff that is annoying. Well, 'just', it's of course a whole process but it all starts with that: I'm here by choice.

J: Tell me a little about the rest of the process, what worked for you? I'm interested in the part of how you transformed all that hurt into love. I know it's an issue that many struggle with, historical hurt and the inability to move past it.

I: You give me a very high achievement, my dear, I don't think its been such a complete alchemy, but it's true, much hurt has dissolved and love took it's place. There are two central reflections that always work for me. The first one is that we are not all that perfect, that we make mistakes, are obnoxious, and hurt others just like everyone else. We tend to have a very high idea of ourselves but it usually doesn't correspond to reality. The second one is that no one is just 'the bad guy'. Behind people's clumpsy words or actions lies goodness. This goodness might have eclipsed by ignorance or by other people's clumpsy actions but there is kindness at everyone's center. We will always end up in conflicts, we are people, people do that, but if you keep these two ideas in mind, you can almost always find a way out of it. Thinking this way helps us see that we are more similar to one another that we might think, which generates a bridge of empathy and conflict wades. More so in the case of family, we lived together, we carry the same blood, so similarities are plenty, of course we are very much alike and can find ways to empathise.

J: Those are very wise words my teacher, so let me ask you this: Is it enough to just want to feel better about the relationship. Is volition alone enough to get you to that softer place where empathy is possible?

I: Yes and no. Volition will drive you to find a way. But you still need to walk the walk. We said before very casually 'transform' or 'dissolve' hurt, but that is a labyrinth for most of us. A clear awareness of one's true feelings, harsh and subtle, is required to do this, mindfulness in other words. You can train mindfulness in a number of ways, there is no one set way, but you can't solve a conflict until you manage to see a bigger picture of it.

J: And what are the steps we can take from awareness of our feelings to arrive in empathy and compassion?

I: I would say the first step is a bit of solitude, for most of us is really difficult to change direction when others are present, especially if we are perceiving those others as enemies at the moment. A short walk arond the hood, a little savasana or even sitting on the toilet for a while can help so we don't feel immediatly threatened as we deal with tender uncomfortable feelings. We need to allow ourselves to actually feel the feeling, without immediatly respond to the urge to get rid of it. To really feel it instead of exclusively think of ways to end it. Where and how it feels in the body, how it relates to breath. And when we do this a little miracle happens over time, feelings soften, relax and give place to a lighter version of themselves that are easier to deal with, which allows for a enough clarity of mind to work with those two central reflections I brought up earlier.
Usually the first thing I do after this little break is to give a big hug to the other person (yes, I must admit it, I am a hugger) From there on it's easier to relate and start fresh. In bigger conflicts we need of course a much longer and intricate procces, but in the case of family, we carry the same blood and we lived together for many years so the love we feel for each other is never out of reach.

J: Thanks love, I really appreciate these little conversations. Now let's go cook your parents some lunch!



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