Thursday, February 24, 2005

Unselfish Meditation

I hit on a great meditation the other day. I got the inspiration from an incident that occurred with my wife. We were making airpopped popcorn and it was loud in the kitchen. I had just placed my 1 year old daughter down for the first time in the hour that I had been home from work. I thought I had a second to grab a set of nail clippers and prune my nails back. My wife however began to shout over the popcorn maker, trying to get my attention.
"Babe, I can't really hear you." I responded. I was mildly irritated that my moment with 2 free hands had been interrupted.
My wife fed off of my irritability and shouted:
"I just wanted to tell you about T. He called himself the puzzle champ today. I assume he got that from your daddy/son puzzle tournament the other night."
I smiled and reflected on the magical night that my son T and I had the previous night. Of course my wife was right. That conversation is much more important than any selfish chore.
When I was alone that night I reflected some more on how damaging selfishness can be. Even this somewhat harmless exchange brought unnecessary tension into our marriage. I began to think about acting unselfishly. That if any of my tasks are interrupted, that I should not be irritated. I should be thankful for the opportunity to converse with another human. I also vowed to do a similar meditation on the ride home from work the next night.

On the ride home from work I breathed deeply and tried to envision myself patient and calm. I did not want to act irritably or selfishly. I vowed not to react in anger if my wife interrupted me or made a comment that might initially irritate me.
Later in the evening I got a chance to put my meditation into practice. As my wife was heading off to sleep she quipped: "Honey, how are you going to try to keep me awake tonight?" She was referring to my letting the bathwater out at 10:30 last night. The upstairs drain has a really loud echo as the water flows out.
She continued. "Last night the bath water was bad enough, but then the shower. You kept dropping stuff in there. It was really annoying."
As I watched my wife's facial expression I could see that she realized that she had just crossed the line from funny to irritating. I think that she was about to apologize when I replied:
"Oh, I dropped your toothbrush while I was cleaning my testicles."
We both laughed about her dirty toothbrush phobia and I headed downstairs for some yoga.
That meditation helped me to react with humor instead of anger. Being unselfish gives us a thicker skin. I did not get angry at the insult, which was really just a tired effort at humor. I returned the attempt at humor with a real witty remark and diffused any potential problems. Emotional Mastery in action.

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