Left from my Catholic upbringing, the reminder every Christmas of the possibility lying dormant within each one of us, of giving birth to a new attitude. An improved version of ourselves, filled with good intentions and the will to cultivate even more mindfulness, loving kindness, and wisdom both within and with others.
As this year comes to an end, I am very grateful for the gift of practice that kept me safe from making hasty, and potentially very wrong decisions. I saw firsthand the blinding nature of anger wrongly placed onto another person, and the power of waiting, and not acting out on what seemed like a rightful thought at first. I look back on the past when mindfulness practice was not a part of my life, and when I fell prey to wrong convictions. I think of the time when I left my first husband, a good man, and caused havoc in my then young family. I am still paying the price. One cannot escape the law of karma. There is much wisdom and love to be extracted however from the resulting suffering.
The big lesson lies in not repeating prior mistakes. Been there, done that, I know better now . . .
The marriage relationship is wonderful that way, as it presents us with multiple opportunities for personal transformation. Found in the February 2012 issue of Psychology Today, a great article on 'Are You With the Right Mate?':
At some point in every relationship, it's natural to ask whether your partner is the right one for you. But if that's as far as you go, you're missing the opportunity of your life . . . "Rather than look at the other person, you need to look at yourself and ask, 'Why am I suddenly so unhappy and what do I need to do? We do not look to our partner to provide our happiness, and we don't blame them for our unhappiness. We take responsibility for the expectations that we carry , for our own negative emotional reactions, for our own insecurities, and for our own dark moods.". . . "A lot of the thinking about being married to the wrong mate is really a self-delusion." . . . "We're all difficult. Everyone who is married is a difficult spouse. We emphasize that our spouse is difficult and forget how we're difficult for them."
Likewise, children keep us honest with ourselves. Mine have been brutally forthright in their feedback, and it's been rough seeing myself in their mirror. I have failed them in big ways once, twice, three times, and their young hearts are not ready to forgive yet. If I am not careful, the mind could make matters even worse with unnecessary regrets and remorse, or anger at them. No, better take a stand, and practice love instead. Forgiving myself for my misdeeds, forgiving them for their harshness.
Coming to terms with one's imperfections. Thanking loved ones for the opportunity to polish away the impurities. Surrendering to the humbling ways of the heart.
How do you experience the family crucible? How do relationships contribute to your practice? How does your practice enhance your life at home?