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Lions Roar : November 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2006 30 that I did not want to take him back, even if he wanted to re-establish our relation- ship. I started meditating semi-regularly and reading about Buddhist thought and practice. I learned to sit with whatever was there, to sit with whatever emotions or physical sensations or thoughts arose and observe them without judgment. I learned about tonglen, the Tibetan practice of giv- ing and receiving. I would breathe in all my pain and anger and sadness, and I’d breathe out compassion, sending it out to the world. I practiced sending loving- kindness: first to myself, then to my hus- band, and eventually to his lover. I walked right into my anger and welcomed it into my life, inviting it to sit with me for as long as it needed to. After some months of this practice, my question was no longer, Who was right and who was wrong? but, How can I make my life better? My anger left. When my husband came down in May to get the rest of his things from our place, he felt like an old friend. We had a pleasant visit, although his lover called in a panic be- cause she was afraid we would sleep together (neither of us wanted to). When he left with his things it really felt like the end. We both cried for a long time. After he drove away I went back into the bedroom and sat down on the bed. I looked out the window at the trees and light. It was a curious light, almost as if I were looking at the world for the very first time. I was looking at the world with all the layers peeled back. At the end of the summer, near the an- niversary of my discovery of the affair, I ran into my husband’s lover at a confer- ence overseas. Although I tried to avoid her, she approached me. She told me how much pain she was in, how much she still suffered. I believe she thought it would make me feel better to know that she suffered too (it didn’t), and I believe she wanted me to absolve her (I didn’t). I told her what I had learned: “Allow your- self to be with whatever is there and know that everything changes. With every out- breath we die a small death, and with ev- ery in-breath we are reborn. This is what that means: Our suffering is not fixed, and with every moment we can choose how to encounter it.” ♦