Sorry for leaving this all hanging here. Just a brief blurb to say that things here are much better. She and I worked a lot of it out, and are trying again, this time with much more understanding of what each of us did that contributed to make such small issues appear so huge. It never ceases to amaze me just how much you miss when you stop listening and just react.

There is a great misconception regarding Zen and things like action. Everybody knows the beat-to-death addage of the Zen master, the chopsticks and the fly. First off, I call bull-sh!t Secondly, nearly no-one ever gets this story right. C) Whatever. Point is, people have this idea that by "being all 'zen' n' stuff" you can simply react as if there is no thought needed, as if instinct alone will guide your body (or your mouth).

Uh. No.

We are constantly thinking. Constantly. Even when us Zen-types are trying our damnedest not to, the gears are grinding away between the ears, trying like hell to keep the machine going. Part of this is a good thing. Stopping all thought tends to lead to things like a permanent case of "death". But when strife or tumult happens--say, an argument--what happens with the brain and reaction?

When you stop listening, everything crashes. Every time. You start reacting from your own place of fear and insecurity. Why? Because you're no longer dealing with the other person. You've purposefully disconnected from them, and ergo, from the whole dynamic. You now have no ability to understand any further, because you don't know what's actually being said, and from that point on, you are acting unilaterally. You may think you're picking flies out of the air with chopsticks--reacting effortlessly from "instinct"--but in actuality, what you're doing is setting yourself up for much more grief than you'd have by being wholly present and dealing with the person by listening to what they're saying, even if you don't agree with them.

One of the key techniques/practices of Zen is "inquiry". Here's a tip: you can't "not think" and "inquire" at the same time. Apparently, thinking is important after all. Being able to inquire of yourself while strife and stress are happening in real time is damn handy. And it would have been really handy were I to have actually done any of it while dealing with this issue with my partner. Inquiries like "Who is feeling this frustration?" "Who is reacting?" "Where is the fear?" "What is my body feeling?" etc, can actually keep you more present, and defuse a lot of the "instinct" to react, because honestly, the human instinct in situations like that is almost always sure to be good-old "fight or flight". That is human instinct. And that is never helpful when it comes to understanding.

By the bye, in the chopstick story? The monk gets decapitated.




And by all means, keep your head.


Nixie said...

good to hear you got/are getting things worked out. i guess it's true to say that sometimes a storm really is the best way to clear the air, just remember not to sit under the tree while it's happening!