Excerpt from Sharon Salzberg’s book, Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection
One of my students tells me that she often asks herself, “Am I opening or am I closing?” when she gets into arguments with close friends, family members, or her significant other.
To her, “opening” in this case is the act of allowing dialogue, of seeing others’ perspectives, of moving toward resolution; “closing,” by contrast, may be withdrawing, seeking to perpetuate an argument. It is our nature to “close” when we want to protect ourselves.
But, creating more space around pain is fruitful. When we expand in the face of suffering, we can feel more - such as where the pain registers in our bodies, or what might have been going on for the other person. We may even wonder about our roles. This exercise is one of self-exploration. Consider the following questions as tools for staying open, expansive, and spacious during or after conflict.
Where in my body do I feel anger? Sadness? Resentment? Guilt?
When I try to relax my body, how do my emotions respond?
What do I know about the other person’s experience that may have contributed to this conflict? Childhood wounds? Past relationships?
What are some of my past experiences that resonate with this one? What did I learn last time?
How would I react to myself if I were the other person during this conversation? What was my tone of voice like? My body language?
What might have happened if I expressed myself differently?
Note that these questions aren’t meant to send you into a rabbit hole of rumination and regret about the past; rather, you can think of them as exercises in curiosity and creativity. Visualize each question as a way of creating more space and perspective.
Aligns us with life force energy in and around us
Helps us learn to sit in the the throne of our own inner authority
Cultivates a steady body and calm mind
Promotes self discipline
Helps to motivate us to work towards our goals even if there are many obstacles in our way
Strengthening & enhances will power