Thursday, August 25, 2011

Overcoming difficult relationships

The true test of how far we are on the path is not how proficient we are at the poses or other techniques and practices, but how conscious we are in daily life and how conscious and compassionate we can be in our interactions with others.
We cannot think we are so enlightened if one harsh word from another crumbles our values and has usacting hateful and enraged. Its not to say that pain, anger, etc, will disappear, it is to say that enlightenment resides in our hearts, in our reactions, actions, intentions.. We can feel the anger fully, we can witness it and choose how to act consciously. We can cultivate the opposite emotion as Patanjali said to do in the Yoga Sutras. And at all times, we can look into our experiences as the Guru- opportunities to investigate where we are resisting our natural state. Everything is an opportunity for spiritual development.

We can dedicate the interactions that are challenging to revealing the Divine within as much as we can dedicate our joyous moments. The people who push your buttons are cosmically doing you a favor- they are acting like a catalyzing agent- speeding your growth if you accept the challenge.

Different techniques for working with difficult relationships exist, and really the number of techniques is limitless. You can find your own as well.

Witnessing: cultivating the identification of who you are with that witnessing state of consciousness invites a broader perspective. By stopping and witnessing the anger, jealousy, fear, etc. you can watch its effect on your mental state and physical form and begin to see the unconscious, automatic reactions that you employ. Slowly you will be able to witness the emotion and choose a new reaction.

Blessing: Sharon Gannon, co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga recommends a meditative technique that tranforms both yourself, the other and the relationship. Grounding in a meditation posture, inhaling, think "blessings to", and exhaling allow an image and name to arise. Starting with loved ones, moving to neutral beings and then to those that challenge you, push your buttons and whom you may very strongly dislike. David Life, the other founder of Jivamukti Yoga, tells a story of how that technique transformed his relationship with a person that was violently hostile towards him. After some time with that practice, the same man that had threatened his life at one time spontaneously greeted him like a very dear friend.

Step into their shoes with compassion: reflect on others as holy beings at heart, seeing how their unkind actions may come from pain, loneliness, and other places where they have been hurt. See that they are someone's child. See that we all bleed, laugh, cry. We could be in the same place ourselves. We all do the best we can with the awareness we have. Take the higher road and do unto them as you wish they could do unto you. Don't objectify and demonify other beings.

See the Divine everywhere: looking at all beings as the Divine consciousness transforms our interactions. When you are looking to see God in the eyes of others you are not going to be as prone to fixate on the less amicable qualities. You will begin to see what you look for, the indwelling consciousness At the heart, not the habits of personality unconsciously operating on the surface.

Everything is the grounds for enlightenment. The keys to happiness are right here within and everywhere in everyone. When we think of yoga not as a workout on the mat, but as a practice to transform our relationships and lead us to enlightenment, we see the opportunity in each moment. We accept all beings and experiences with the open, grateful heart of the student. We make the unconscious conscious. We live love and become whole.

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