In my last post, I shared: In regards to the friendship I’m currently in heartache over, I’ve come to realize – after much processing back and forth – that there is a way for me to keep my heart open to this person while also distancing myself from them.
Shortly after writing this, I came across a well-timed article on Twitter, entitled Why You Should Never Give Up on Anybody by Lodro Rinzler. Don’t you just love when things line up?
I clicked on the link right away and set to reading the article. Here it is, if you’d like to give it a gander.
I especially appreciated this segment from the article:
In the Buddhist tradition we refer to beings willing to keep their heart open no matter what as bodhisattvas. Bodhi is a Sanskrit word which can be translated as “open” or “awake.” Sattva can be translated from Sanskrit as “being” or “warrior.” It’s a person who is incredibly brave in maintaining an open heart, no matter what comes up in their life. This experience is something we can aspire to. The Zen master Seung Sahn once said, “Being a bodhisattva means when people come, don’t cut them off; when people go, don’t cut them off.”
I was so enjoying this article – that is, until I got to the end, where Lodro shared this practice:
HOW TO NOT GIVE UP
Pema Chödron is an American Buddhist teacher who has written extensively about the pain of a broken heart and I can’t recommend her work more highly. Below I have adapted an exercise she has recommended. It starts by taking a photo of the person you are having a hard time with and displaying it prominently in your home. This may initially cause you discomfort. So much of heartbreak is staying with our discomfort.
Every time you walk by the photo look at the being you are struggling with and simply say, “I wish you the best.” If that rings hollow to you instead say, “I know you are basically good” or “You’re not a jerk all the time.” Whatever phrase you choose, make it personal, but some version of acknowledging that they are not basically evil. Do this several times a day, whenever your gaze falls on the photo. Let your heart soften over time.
After I read it, I said (out loud to myself): Crap.
Translation: That’s a really good idea. And I totally don’t want to do it (which is WHY it’s a good idea).
I love the line:
So much of heartbreak is staying with our discomfort.
So, I decided it would behoove my practice to take up this suggestion. See pic above.
Fortunately, inspiration struck and I was called to alter things a little bit. Rather than just put up the picture of the person I’m feeling heartbreak around, I decided to pair their pic with a makeshift alter, thereby making their image a little easier to digest. (I flipped around the actual pic of this person for the sake of this post, so as to protect their identity.)
When I look at this alter, not only do I see my friend’s image but I see my teacher’s, and I see two lovely messages to help support me on my path of healing and reconciliation:
Love is an infinite power
Mindfulness is a source of happiness
In the morning before my session of sitting meditation, I light incense at this temporary alter and offer the accompanying chant in our tradition. And I offer that chant to my friend.
I’m not sure yet how long I’ll leave this alter up in my living room. But I reckon I’ll take it down when I can look at my friend’s photo and feel a certain level of ease and letting go.