By Author, Rob Peach
Posted in Relationship Therapy Toronto
Last week was particularly hectic. By Friday at 5:00, like most of us, I was tired and looking forward to going home and relaxing.
Leaving work at rush hour, the subway was packed. I jostled for a position on the car close to the door, knowing that my stop was the second one after boarding. I trudged through the corner grocery store in search of something for dinner and dragged myself and my family’s dinner home (uphill both ways!) in search of some quiet…
But, as I approached my house, my heart skipped a beat. My car was gone! Had it been stolen? Towed?
Or, was it simply in parking garage at the office where I left it earlier that morning?
We’ve all been there at one time or another. Lost in thought, we’ve lost connection with what we’re doing in the moment… distracted by worries about things we’ve said or done in the past or that we may intend to do in the future.
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist. His teachings include lessons on mindfulness, that is, being aware of our thoughts, emotions and sensations as we experience them. Or, as he describes, mindfulness is ‘the miracle which enables us to call back our dispersed mind to allow us to wholly live each minute of life’.
Being present in each moment allows us to access, appreciate and enjoy a more full range of the human experience. By focusing our thoughts on what is presented to us in the present, we are better able to both manage our worries about the future and untangle ourselves from the pain of the past.
During my $50 cab ride back to my office to pick up my car, I decided to make an effort to make the most of the trip. It was a half an hour of my life stuck in rush hour traffic, so rather than suffer through it, I willed myself to use that time to appreciate the hum of the city, watch the flow of the traffic and to spend some time learning about the driver’s life.
Given how hard it can be, at times, to connect with our own thoughts and feelings, it’s no wonder that relationships can be such tough work! In relationships, not only do we need to find a way to communicate these experiences to our partners, but be open, willing and able to hear theirs as well.
It’s especially tough when we have different views, experiences or beliefs than our partner. Thich Nhat Hanh writes on the idea of compassion for others, ‘When we come into contact with another person, we should express compassion for them, even if that persons says or does things that are difficult for us to accept’.
Now, those are some pretty heavy concepts for a 500 word blog post and I run the risk of irreverence in so haphazardly quoting Hanh, but I think these points can truly inform relationship therapy. That is, by being aware of our own thoughts and feelings, and by being willing to accept those of our partner’s with compassion and without judgment, we open up the possibility of relieving some of the suffering in our relationship.
So, stop, think, notice and appreciate your moments. Or, at the very least, try and remember how you got to work this morning…