I invited a dear friend to the beach today to meet some other close friends of mine. It was important to me. He surprised me by agreeing to come, and yet spent the time being quiet, engaging little and soon going home.
At the end of the day, when I finally got home, I felt a nervousness in my belly and an ache in my heart. It would have been easy to distract myself from this feeling, subtly put another layer on the scar of disappointments and become a little less generous toward my friend. This would have happened quickly and gone almost undetected, but over the course of time, it would create distance. A distance that is the opposite of the connection I was seeking.
Plus, I know this tendency of mine, and I don’t wish to pull away.
The space between those un-met boundaries
There are moments between us where we will not meet. Where what I wish for will not be what you wish to give, and vice versa.
I started paying attention to these moments recently, as it seemed to me they are a type of boundary. Not a boundary that has been disrespected, invaded or overpowered, but a boundary that has been un-met. A place where my will does not meet yours, and this leaves an empty space between us.
It is a space we often fill with hurt, misunderstanding, anger, sadness. It is a space that gets messy.
You might give the advice to not have any expectations of one another, and while excellent input, most of us are not Buddha, and we simply do. We have hearts that hold longings, some simple, some deep, that wish to be met. We have hearts that have been rejected, sometimes intensely, sometimes softly, that wish to be touched.
So rather than demand of ourselves to not have expectations, what if we healed the old hurts and became exquisitely attentive in those un-met moments to not make that space murky by filling it with our past?
Embodying the ache
I sat on the couch for a few minutes and gave in to the ache in my heart. I softened my chest and let the ache spread. It got stuck in my throat, so I let go in my jaw. The ache sank to my belly, and I let it sink fully.
I felt the sadness of a missed connection, and I agreed to feel it. I softened my forehead and let go of being right, which let me stop feeling wronged.
I felt a soft, warm flow move down through my hips and my legs. I felt my feet touch the ground, and I breathed.
Then my body was filled with a yearning. A yearning to be met, without knowing how that might be.
I then took some time to think of my friend. In this more embodied state, I could now recognize and feel that when I hold my boundary, the boundary of my wish, and don’t pour my past rejections into the space left between us when it is un-met, I could simply feel the pain of missing him, in that moment.
I didn’t add another layer to the old scar.
Spend the next few weeks noticing these un-met boundaries. When your wishes aren’t met, and it leaves an empty space between you and another.
Notice what you do afterwards? Do you get busy? Do you get nervous? Do you get down on yourself or feel resentful and wronged?
What do you fill the empty space with? Hurt, loneliness, anger?
How does this feel in your body? Where is there pain? Where are you tense? Where do you contract around uncomfortable emotions? Does your heart ache? Do you feel numb?
Then take one moment where it happened. It’s best to take something fresh and that has energy invested in it. Where you care.
Sit and notice. Pay attention to the ache. Breathe and give in to it. Follow your body and notice where energy gets stuck. Soften the area itself or just above or below it. Continue to notice what happens with the ache or the anger or the sadness. Allow it to be and follow it as you let go of different muscles. Soften your mind and let the ache transform.
Refine your attention as you follow the flow in your body. Notice what remains after embodying the hurt.
You may choose to end the practice here and simply rest and digest. Or you can think again about the moment that happened and notice what is different. What is still old? What could let go even more? Can you tune in even more? It’s simply a chance to go deeper if you wish.
And then rest and breathe to deepen this more physical state.
A life practice
Embodying old hurts and rejections is an artful practice. It is one that you can develop with growing grace and ease, so when your boundaries are un-met, the space between can remain clear and free. And as such, so will you.