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"Gentling" One Another

“What do you do with the mad that you feel” (Mr. Rogers, 1969)

This photo is the soft, gentle morning dew on the tall grass. What if we could be that soft cool and a balm to one another? Wouldn't that be lovely?

How can we give an expression of care to the beloveds in our life? Don't we just all want to be accepted and loved for who we are. We know we cannot change another and that really we can only change our response. Yet we get caught up in what Tara Brach calls a "trance" of behaviors.

Why do we loose our temper with a loved one anyway? Why do we lack compassion when they have a struggle we don’t understand? Or are irritated about a personal foible they have? Or when they don’t care about something the same way as we do…or more than we do? I’m guessing we each have a few of our own irritating issues: leaving a bottle cap on the counter, or not cleaning a dish and leaving it in the sink, or leaving a towel rumpled on the floor. Or maybe you like to exercise and your beloved likes to sit at the computer and you wish their growing tummy was more svelte. But these are all just superficial matters and expressions of our own fears and quirks.

If you knew your beloved would not be alive tomorrow, what would really matter? A freak-out about taking the garbage out? Or the awe you both share in looking up at the stars? Or joy in laughing at a silly joke? Or the deliciousness of savoring a yummy meal together? Or sitting and holding hands by the fire? Let it go. Some stuff is little stuff.

The practice: When you feel that irksome irritation rise up about something with someone, take a breath and make some space before saying anything. Consider whether what you say is kind? Does it serve? Thich Nhat Hanh in No Mud, No Lotus suggests when we feel hurt to say "Sweetheart, I suffer. I don't understand why you have said this to me, why you have done such a thing to me. Please explain, I need your help." Hahn suggests that when we get angry, we shouldn't try to say or do something to punish the other, because there is already a lot of suffering. Instead we need to listen. It is a practice. I have to practice too. And it does change everything. Try the experiment. See what happens when you offer loving kindness instead of harsh words?

In Partnership and Practice with You


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