An Unexpected Source of Healing in Divorce
Summer solstice is the longest day of light and has become the symbol of renewal and new beginnings. It is nature’s way of telling us that the long, dark days of winter do end. The cycle of dark and light is as old as biblical stories. This timeless, natural cycle is an enduring message that we often need to be reminded of.
Ending A Marriage is Among Life’s Darkest Days
There is emotional and financial havoc. Other people distract our thoughts and hijack our feelings. Children, parents, other family, and friends are also experiencing dark moments about your divorce. It’s not only hard to see the light, but carrying it to others feels almost impossible.
Coming Back Into the Light After Divorce
As you come out of your personal season of darkness, it is essential to give yourself permission to feel the warmth of the sun and the comfort of support in this next season of light. Permission to laugh, enjoy life, and find happiness is not meant to eclipse or block out your pain; it is a crucial tactic for healing.
There is a quote in the book, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, by Mark Nepo that makes a lot of sense:
“You do not have to hold on to your pain to hold on to your truth.” — Mark Nepo
Letting Go of Pain and Anger Still Honors Your Truth
Clients often say, “If I look and behave OK, he/she will think everything is fine. Then he/she gets a free pass when they really ruined my life.” However, letting go of the pain, anger, and even your mind-set to punish the person who hurt you does not take away your truth.
What truly ruins your life is letting someone else’s actions diminish even a minute of your “quota of days.” Generally, your pain does not influence the other person to change his/her behaviors. And the more ignored you feel, the more intensely you may ratchet up your painful, angry and punishing behaviors. The irony is those feelings boomerang, and you end up feeling worse. Healthy healing recognizes the painful feelings, honors the challenges, and allows the light in.
By now you may be saying: “Easy to say but very hard to do.” And I agree with you that it is something that does not come naturally to most of us. Turning the other cheek is very hard to live by when you feel you have been wronged, betrayed, and treated poorly. When we are hurt, our inclination is to punish. The paradox is that, the more you punish someone else, the harder it is for you to see the light and accept the sunshine. These thoughts keep you in a prison of pain.
Keys To Release You From Your Prison of Pain
There are two keys to your freedom:
- Kindness to yourself.
- Kindness to others.
These two paths of kindness can be cultivated through the Buddhist practice of metta (see note below). Metta is a Pali word that has two meanings, “gentle” and “friend.” Metta is a daily affirmation that wishes yourself and others well. The magic happens when you repeat the affirmation four times, each time with a focus on one of four people. With the exception of yourself, you can change the people daily.
- A loved one (child, parent, friend)
- A neutral person (Starbucks barista, mail carrier, teacher)
- Someone you have strong negative feelings toward (perhaps your ex-spouse)
A summary of the metta practice is:
- May I be safe, physically, spiritually and emotionally.
- May I be balanced and have peace.
- May I be healthy and make good choices.
- May I have ease.
With a focused intention to absorb the metta affirmations of self-acceptance, love, and kindness, there is a shift in how we feel and behave towards others. People call this shift compassion or forgiveness or acceptance. Whatever the name, when you embrace loving kindness for yourself and give it to others, it has magic that helps you change the course of your life.
Consider trying this practice for 30 days and see what happens.
Note: There are many resources, articles and books on metta practice. A good start would be The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice (The Art of Spiritual Living) by Rami Shapiro.
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