Photo: Courtesy of Ed and Deb Shapiro
Self-reflective practices, such as meditation, enable you to see not only how you are responsible for your own feelings, but also how whatever you may be experiencing is a choice you are making in that moment. It is not because of what someone else might be saying or doing. When you can step back from the heat of conflict and explore why someone makes you react a certain way, it quickly becomes obvious it has very little to do with the other person and much more to do with a place inside yourself.
Difficulties in relationships can show you the many ways your ego-self tries to be right, and how self-centeredness takes over. In the early days of our relationship, we were sharing some of our marriage issues with our meditation teacher. He looked at us in puzzlement. "Why not just laugh?" he asked. And he was right. When we can see the absurdity of two egos knocking heads and trying to outwit each other, it is very amusing. So often a disagreement is simply about seeing the same thing in two different ways: One sees a white ceiling, the other sees a flat ceiling, but it is the same ceiling.
Too often you may cling to difficulties and make them greater than they are; you replay the irritation in your mind until you become even more upset. The ego does not want to let go! Yet what a relief when it does and you can return to a place of balance. In this way, meditation is an essential ingredient in a shared journey, not just because it allows you to be on the same wavelength, but because it gives you the spaciousness to accept and love each other's differences, to see the other just as he or she is, without any illusions. In that shared silence, the "me versus you"—the power struggles and one-upmanship—dissolve. There is a dropping away of the separation and hostility...there is just presence. What counts in making a lasting relationship is not how compatible you are with your partner, but how well you deal with any incompatibilities and can accept each other's neuroses. Then love can blossom.
The benefits of meditating alone and together