meditation as resentment management: aka that person who really peeves me is my teacher
April 13, 2011
“Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment.”
Part of the Buddhist Tonglen meditation teachings is this statement. I’m no expert, I’m new to this Buddhist stuff, but from what I’m learning, it’s worth loving.
This statement rose up to meet my irritated mind the other day. I was thinking of someone I know who absolutely drives me nuts. They’re a friend of a friend. Anytime I spend time with this person I get annoyed. I have to take deep breaths. I position my body away from them. I try to avoid talking to them. Almost everything they say irritates me.
So, obviously, this person is just really annoying.
Except, they’re not. They just trigger me. It’s my stuff coming up–but what? And why?
I sat with this for a bit, taking it in, letting myself go a bit deeper with it. I meditated on what was provoking resentment. Here’s what I found: The character traits that drive me nuts about this person are ones I have a hard time accepting in myself. The character traits I struggle to surround with loving-kindness in my own self are ones I hone in on in this person. Insecurities, neediness, dependence.
So here’s my opportunity: Each time I’m with this person, I can practice a whole lotta loving-kindness. I can take a step back from my auto-response, see it for what it is, and instead of sending irritation and closing down, I can move towards loving-kindness and opening up. This is going to be HARD. I’m gonna be challenged, big-time.
But, as Pema Chodron says in her book Start Where You Are,
“The more you’re willing to open your heart, the more challenges come along that make you want to shut it. We can’t do this work in a safety zone. You have to go out into the marketplace and live your life like anybody else, but with the added ingredient of not wanting to shut anything out of your heart.”