I have been struggling a bit lately with how often people choose to be offended, hurt or resentful in their lives. We are a society caught up in our egos and the perceptions that feed them. We react to others based on the stories we create about what we think the other person meant by what they said or did. We have become more and more distrustful of the intentions of others, mainly because we believe that the stories we create for ourselves are reality. Like almost everyone else, I have been victim to this process without being fully aware of how or when it happens. Now that I am more aware, I can see more clearly how ludicrous it is. We are all imperfect and make mistakes. It is human nature. Most of us don’t intend to make mistakes, or be careless in our behavior, but no matter how hard any of us might try, it still won’t protect us from our imperfections.
If I believe in this fundamental premise – that I will never be free of imperfection – does it make sense for me to create and hold on to anger about mistakes that other people make? Most of the hurts and resentments I think or feel are small and petty issues in the grand scheme of things. I realize that I get angry or resentful toward people for displaying the same behavior I do. The difference is that when I offend someone, it’s an unintended “mistake.” When someone else does it, there’s a story involving deliberate motivation and intention that gets attached to the behavior until it takes on conspiratorial dimensions. Pretty crazy, huh? I guess we are all a little crazy in these instances. As I am learning, there is only one way to change this unproductive and harmful behavior: Awareness.
Just from the simple – but not always easy – act of being more present and aware, we step back from our thinking selves and come to see our behaviors and thoughts in a different way. Someone once said, When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change. One of the best ways to step back and be more aware is mindfulness meditation. Another is the simplicity of tea practice. As I am often caught up during the day with the drama of my life, I get too lost in my thoughts to be aware of what I am doing to myself and others. Taking time to prepare tea throughout the day helps place me more in the moment. Once there, I become more aware of what I am doing. I notice the simple joy in preparing, sharing and enjoying a cup of tea.
From there, I get a clearer understanding of the problems I have created for myself during the day. I am able to let more things go. Even more important: I can forgive. How many people have we let go from our lives over something forgettable or insignificant? How many people have we chased away because we couldn’t allow them their hurt or resentment without reacting in kind? Let’s all take a personal vow that we will make more time for tea practice and the presence and awareness it brings and allow that present awareness to expand into other areas of our lives. Let’s all work at more fully accepting each other and forgiving.
Today I was hurt
Tea brings me to awareness
Now I forgive you
Originally posted in September 2008 by Sandy Bushberg