Tara and I are just back from leading a weekend retreat at Garrison Institute in Garrison, NY on relationships. The intention to ‘wake up’ is arduous for the lone traveler. The Buddha described the process as ‘swimming upstream.’ You are going against the grain of your own conditioning as well as the conditioning of the culture. You come in contact with everything between you and feeling free. Throw a few more people in the mix and it gets complicated! As painful as relationships can be, when we truly connect with another there is a deep understanding of the principle of seeing ‘Self in Other and Other in Self.’ We begin to recognize anxiety and fear is not an individual experience as much as it is commonly shared. Here’s a classic teaching story: You are walking in the woods in a park and see a cute puppy. You walk up to the puppy to pet it. It lunges at you. Suddenly your relationship with the puppy has changed from openess and curiosity to fear and self-protection. Then you realize the puppy’s leg is in a trap. You shift again from fear and self-protection to compassion and empathy. If we can remember this little story when someone is unskillful in their actions through ‘fight, flight or freeze,’ we can more quickly open to empathy. And of course, when we can recognize how our leg is caught in a trap as well, true healing is possible. Deep conversation The chapel Sunset outside of Baltimore iTunes podcast here, online listening here, stitcher here, and Jonathan’s YouTube channel here.