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Lions Roar : July 2015
relationships healthier, happier, and more resilient when there’s a difficulty to express. Step 2: Expressing Regret The second step is expressing regret or apologizing for anything you’d like to have done differently. If you’ve made a mistake, have the courage to apolo- gize before it becomes a knot in your partner, family member, colleague, or friend. When you truly apologize for some- thing you regret, any hurt the person felt may be completely dissipated by your apology. Expressing regret on your own initiative, before the other person has even let you know that he or she is hurt, is a way to refresh your relation- ship. Even if you’re apologizing for only part of a situation, if your regret is genuine, the other person will feel some release. Step 3: Expressing Hurt or Disagreement Because each of us has perceptions that get in the way of truly seeing, we need to let other people know when we’re hurt. Perhaps we think they already know how we feel, or perhaps we believe that they hurt us intentionally. But often their perceptions are clouded—as ours are—and they don’t know that they’ve hurt us. If we don’t express our hurt or dis- agreement, then we retreat and stop being present with the other person. That’s why it’s so important to express our hurt or disagreement. You may be scared to speak, but if you speak from a place of calm and love, you’ll be speaking in a way that the other person can hear. There are two ways to response when you’re angry. You can speak as if you’re throwing darts, which will only make the other person shut their heart. Or you can speak in a humble way, which will give the other person a chance to open to what you’re saying. If you acknowledge the limits of your own perception, the other person has a chance to explain their point of view. If you can explain things with curiosity and genuine regret for any hurt that you’ve caused, then there never hastobeawar. Step 4: Asking for More Information The last step of beginning anew is listen- ing to the other person. You ask them to share their perceptions and feelings or any difficulty they might be going through. Perhaps some- thing is bothering the other person that you aren’t aware of. This is a chance for you to learn. You might ask them, “Did I say or do something to make you annoyed?” Maybe the other person is only a tiny bit bothered and doesn’t want to say anything. But if you ask with genuine interest, then they can share their hurts and you can renew your relationship before the hurts have built up a wall. What the other person says reflects their own perspective, so it may be only partially true. Yet this isn’t the time to correct or argue; this is the time to listen and understand. When we’re angry and we stuff that anger down, we build a wall inside us. Beginning anew is a tool for helping dismantle the wall, brick by brick. If you start this practice now, before there’s wall between you and the other person— when there are perhaps just one or two bricks in the way—then a wall will never be built. Instead, you and your loved one can enjoy the flower garden you have watered in yourselves and each other. ♦ If you acknowledge the limits of your own perception, the other person has a chance to explain their point of view. HUG IT OUT Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh on how to do hugging meditation. The first time I learned hugging was in Atlanta in 1966. A woman poet took me to the airport and then asked, “Is it all right to hug a Buddhist monk?” In my country, we’re not used to express- ing ourselves that way in public, but I thought, “I am a Zen teacher. It should be no problem for me to do that.” So I said, “Why not?” and she hugged me, though I was rather stiff. While on the plane, I decided that if I wanted to work with friends in the West, I would have to devise practices adapted to the culture of the West. That is why I created hugging meditation. Hugging meditation is a combination of East and West. The practice is about really hug- ging the other person, not just quickly patting him on the back two or three times for the sake of appearance. • Begin by taking a few moments to look at the other person and realize how dear they are to you. • Take three breaths, just looking at the other person and feeling their true presence. • As you open your arms to hug the other person, breathe consciously and hug with all your body, mind, and heart. “Breathing in, I know my dear one is here in my arms, alive. Breath- ing out, he is so precious to me.” From Thich Nhat Hanh’s introduction to Beginning Anew, by Sister Chan Khong. PRACTICE ©ISTOCK.COM/ALVAREZ SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2015 22 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE