Friday, September 11, 2009


I tend to be a very intense, emotional person. And while I like the intensity and it has gotten me far, and I appreciate and honor my nature as a sensitive, feeling, and compassionate person, I do not want to be ruled by my emotions. This is something that I've thought about over the past few years, and that in the past few weeks-- weeks that have been incredibly emotional for me-- has become a more pressing issue in my life.

Today, I became frustrated with a very dear friend. While I was not specifically angry at that friend and did not blow up at the friend, I let my emotions get the best of me. Focused on my own emotions regarding a situation in which I currently find myself-- a situation I may have created for myself to some degree-- I allowed my feelings of frustration, guilt, hurt, worry, and heartbreak to spill out in a way that was not very controlled, considerate, or fair. I truly and humbly feel regret over this, and hope that my friend, when we talk, will forgive me for giving myself over to the tumultuous and unpredictable emotions circling me during this time. I am sorry.

Over the past few weeks, being drawn to philosophies and practices that offer practical tips on managing emotions, I've been once again drawn to Tibetan Buddhism. A few weeks ago, I bought An Open Heart by the Dalai Lama at one of the many local used bookstores. From the inside cover: "In this book the path begins with simple and clear ruminations on the advantages of a virtuous life and moves on to practices that can temper destructive and impulsive emotions. Such practices can be undertaken at odd moments of the day, at once transforming the aimless or anxious mind into a disciplined and open mind." Sounds good, right? Yeah, and my husband thought so too, immediately taking up this book to begin reading it himself (which, if I'm honest, makes me very happy).

So, today, I went to the library and picked up How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life by the Dalai Lama. While waiting on my shift to start, and for a short while after my work shift this evening, I read the first few chapters. It is wonderful, and very helpful. He discusses the three practices as the discipline of morality, concentrated meditation, and manifest knowledge (or wisdom). Morality, he discusses, is the foundation upon which the other two are built. And I was reassured in reading this because I feel that the first step-- practicing morality-- is one in which I am strong. I am easily compassionate and sensitive and empathic by nature, and hold to high standards of integrity and authenticity in my life. That part of practice will be a honing and broadening for me, rather than an introduction. Adding in a stronger appreciation for and practice of the other two will provide the pieces I've been missing off and on over the past little bit of my life. I am looking forward to working through this book, as well as the other one (once I get it back from my husband). I hope to always remain a compassionate, sensitive, loving person. Just one in which the passion part of the compassion is a little more controlled.

And speaking of my husband, have I mentioned lately how much the last few weeks have made me appreciate him more? He has supported me completely through a process in which I have done something very difficult because he knew I needed to do it. He has loved me enough to allow me the freedom to explore some ideas and thoughts that may not have always been comfortable for either of us. He has acknowledged who I am, how I relate to others, and that life isn't always neat and tidy. And because he has been so supportive and open through every challenge we've ever faced together, instead of responding to uncertainty with jealousy, threats, or defensiveness, he remains my confidante, my best friend, and my sounding board. He has never put me into a position where I have felt the need to hide from him-- not myself, not my thoughts, not my actions. I'm only recently realizing how precious and rare that might be.

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