The practice of passive awareness, awareness without a goal, shows me my blind spots, the places where I thoroughly believe the stuff that goes through my head, the unexamined nonsense that runs great portions of my life.
I am in a relationship and my partner or spouse:
is usually lateWe struggle until I finally get to the place where I am just going to be aware and see if I can know what is going on. This is ruining our relationship and a part of me knows it's silly that a relationship could be ruined over something like this. So I watch, I pay very close attention.
is inordinately tidy
is tight with money
isn't affectionate enough
is too lenient with the children
sulks instead of talking
___________________ (add your own)
These are the kinds of things a person might see:
I notice that I feel chaotic when this is going on. I feel out of control, disrespected. "You know how much this means to me. If you loved me you would ________. But you don't, and so it is obvious that you don't care about my feelings, and you don't love me."
As I watch, I begin to realize that these things are not true. It's all conditioning.
Feeling chaotic is conditioning.And at the deepest level, I realize that my conditioning is my responsibility. It's what causes me to suffer. It's not actually anyone else's beliefs or behaviors. It's not how the world works, or how life is. It's my conditioning that makes me suffer, that causes me to close my heart, that gives me problems in relationships. At the deepest level I know it is my responsibility to deal with this.
Believing that tidiness/punctuality/discipline/talking/___________ is superior is conditioning.
Concluding that you don't love me because we have different standards is conditioning.
Feeling disrespected because you won't do what I want you to do is conditioning.
And, ultimately, having an attachment to one side of ANY issue is conditioning.
How do I "deal with this," you might ask?
I see that the sensations in my body, the thoughts in my head, and my emotional responses to the sensations and thoughts
are all conditioned -- I learned ALL of it.
I walk in and the house is a mess...
I watch the sensations arise and realize they don't mean what I have thought they mean. (Ah, looking for someone to blame)
I feel the emotions arise and know I don't have to act on them. (Ah, sadness; ah, anger)
Many of you are thinking, This is all very nice, Cheri, but what do I do?
The exciting news is that
when you no longer believe your conditioned responses, you are free to do or not do anything.
Suddenly, you have options. The whole world of possibilities is open to you.
And as we say in Zen, keep paying attention.