[HealthDharma] Turning Suffering Inside Out, chapter six, part one

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  • Kokuu
    Treeleaf Priest
    • Nov 2012
    • 6751

    [HealthDharma] Turning Suffering Inside Out, chapter six, part one

    This section covers the first part of chapter six 'Nurturing Relationships' (beginning to p93 ‘Whore Stories’). This is a longer chapter but it doesn’t lend itself to splitting easily. So, we will work with twelve pages this week and just four for the next.

    This chapter is about nurturing relationships and Darlene points out that we see the world through the relationship between ‘I’ and other. She does not think this a bad thing (and it is to some degree inevitable, even if we can let it drop away in Zazen) and points us to developing our sense of interconnectedness. She also reminds us that it is not just the relationships that we see as central in our life (family, friends, bosses) that are to be nurtured but every encounter with someone else (and I would include the ‘more than human’ beings in that – animals, plants, fungi, even rocks and rivers).

    Darlene notes that when we are sick and/or in pain, relationship takes on a particular meaning and difficult relations can become even more difficult, while relationships based on nurturing and compassion are to be hugely welcomed. She reports on how she noticed differences in her relationships more when she got sick, and used whether her breath became more relaxed around someone or shorter and shallower as a measure of whether the person was likely to give or take her energy. I think that healthy people can notice this also, but it becomes far more important when you are sick to limit exposure to those who can be draining. This, she notes, can be hard if a draining person is a partner or family members.

    Darlene goes on to talk about how our relationships are a touchstone for our practice as they push us to look at our own viewpoints where they meet opposition or where our expectations fail to be met. There is a Buddhist joke that the final test before enlightenment is spending the holiday season with your family! She admits to having caused a rift in her own family over a Jewish holiday by refusing to go based on her own beliefs and having conversations to work with this. In addition Darlene talks about a conversation she had with someone she previously avoided at Zen Mountain Center, and demonstrates how intimacy can be improved through difficult conversations if we are prepared to meet someone face-to-face and where they are.

    That said, from the perspective of someone who is chronically ill, I also want to acknowledge how much energy these kinds of conversations can take.
    The main takeaway from this part of the chapter seems to me that intimacy with people (as well I would say with all things) comes from a turning towards, rather than a turning away. Doing this requires having an open heart and a willingness to hear what is being said.


    Question prompts:

    1. Can you recall a time when a difficult conversation or relationship led to greater intimacy?

    2. How do you experience relationships from the perspective of illness? (if you are not sick, how do you experience relationships when you are stressed or struggling with life?)


    Wishing you all a healthful week.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 04-29-2024, 03:13 PM.
  • Alina
    Member
    • Jul 2023
    • 141

    #2
    Thank you Kokuu.

    Of this chapter what I appreciated the most is how, while Darlene acknowledges how draining some relationships can be and simply points out that we should avoid those people (not always easy to do), I felt like her focus was more on what we can do, what our responsibility is in all our relationships.

    1. Can you recall a time when a difficult conversation or relationship led to greater intimacy?

    Yes, and I think you stated this very clearly:
    Originally posted by Kokuu
    intimacy with people (as well I would say with all things) comes from a turning towards, rather than a turning away. Doing this requires having an open heart and a willingness to hear what is being said.
    In my experience, if both parties are not willing to be open and to hear each other, no matter what may need to be said, then communication is not really possible, and the interactions is just draining for both. But if the willingness is there, then even if the topic is hurtful, it can lead to more connectedness and healing.

    2. How do you experience relationships from the perspective of illness? (if you are not sick, how do you experience relationships when you are stressed or struggling with life?)

    I have walked away from draining relationships, or reduced contact as much as possible. When I am stressed or struggling, I try to take a break, to stop, to unplug (not always easy to find time with kids in the house). Sometimes that means taking a long nap in the weekend, sometimes it means drawing or crocheting, or watching a movie... Last year covid hit me pretty hard and for 3-4 weeks after I tested negative I simply had to go to bed in the afternoon, laying down was a huge relief, even sitting in a chair was draining. My kids would come and spend "quiet time" with me, I would read a story to them, it was a slow recovery. When I am ill, I juggle with the demands of my body and the demands of my family until I get better. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


    Gassho
    Alina
    stlah

    Comment

    • Kokuu
      Treeleaf Priest
      • Nov 2012
      • 6751

      #3
      In my experience, if both parties are not willing to be open and to hear each other, no matter what may need to be said, then communication is not really possible, and the interactions is just draining for both. But if the willingness is there, then even if the topic is hurtful, it can lead to more connectedness and healing.


      I have walked away from draining relationships, or reduced contact as much as possible. When I am stressed or struggling, I try to take a break, to stop, to unplug (not always easy to find time with kids in the house). Sometimes that means taking a long nap in the weekend, sometimes it means drawing or crocheting, or watching a movie... Last year covid hit me pretty hard and for 3-4 weeks after I tested negative I simply had to go to bed in the afternoon, laying down was a huge relief, even sitting in a chair was draining. My kids would come and spend "quiet time" with me, I would read a story to them, it was a slow recovery. When I am ill, I juggle with the demands of my body and the demands of my family until I get better. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
      That is lovely that your kids would come and spend quiet time with you even when you were really not good. It can definitely be a juggling act to meet the needs of the family and also take sufficient time for what your own body needs.

      Relationships can come into sharp focus during periods of illness.


      Gassho
      Kokuu
      -sattoday/lah-

      Comment

      • Tairin
        Member
        • Feb 2016
        • 2728

        #4
        Thank you Kokuu

        1. Can you recall a time when a difficult conversation or relationship led to greater intimacy?

        I am married so yes. Seriously I think that being able to have open and honest conversations is a hallmark of a good relationship. In both cases trust is the key. What is being discussed may be difficult to say or difficult to hear but you need to trust the other person. Once that is there then the intimacy follows.

        2. How do you experience relationships from the perspective of illness? (if you are not sick, how do you experience relationships when you are stressed or struggling with life?)

        I am not sick so I’ll answer from the perspective of being stressed or struggling. The fact is that any difficulty can be hard to keep from overflowing and potentially those that are close to you can become collateral damage. I’ve definitely been in situations where I’ve needed to apologize for my poor behaviour, poor choice of words etc. Luckily these situations are fewer now but I once held a job where I was under quite a bit of stress and pressure. I am sure there were days where I wasn’t very enjoyable to be around.


        Tairin
        Sat today and lah

        泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

        Comment

        • Kaitan
          Member
          • Mar 2023
          • 442

          #5
          1. Can you recall a time when a difficult conversation or relationship led to greater intimacy?
          Indeed, last year I was about to quit my current position and had already went through different fabricated conversations with my supervisor: mostly a very agitated discussion that was going to finish all kinds of contact. At the end it was still a very difficult moment, but being honest about my feelings provoked him to feel compassion (something that I never thought he was capable of). Since then my working environment has improved hugely, it's not perfect, but at least is workable and not so draining.

          2. How do you experience relationships from the perspective of illness? (if you are not sick, how do you experience relationships when you are stressed or struggling with life?)

          It's easier to blame other people and myself about the situation. It's very overwhelming at times and feels like there's no escape from it.


          I liked several parts of this chapter, first when Darlene says
          Sometimes when we are so miserable that it is nearly unendurable, the only thing that helps is having someone to silently hold your hand while you go to hell
          To truly support somebody means that we offer him or her whatever we can and expect nothing in return
          ​​​​​Also when talking about blood relatives

          Blood relatives are great for inadvertently pointing out to us where our buttons are and pushing them. After all, they're the ones who installed the buttons in the first place.
          Then she said

          ...it's very difficult to be intimate with things and people when our views are primarily and fixed
          And following the same idea she later says

          It feels like a relief when I'm not always trying to reconcile reality to my ideas of right and wrong. It's ironic that I should prefer it that way because that way is actually the most painful

          I'm sorry for not engaging lately with the discussions, I'll try to catch up in the upcoming days



          stlah, Kaitan
          Kaitan - 界探 - Realm searcher
          Formerly known as "Bernal"

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