By Jessica Graham
I’m at the age where everyone around me is getting married and having kids. Watching this can be very hard for those who want to get married but have not yet met a life-partner or are with someone who isn’t ready for that kind of commitment. For example, I was recently talking to a friend of mine who wants to marry his girlfriend. He has never had a strong desire to get hitched to anyone before, but he feels like she is the right one and wants to make it official. He shared with me that, much to his disappointment, she doesn’t feel the same way just yet. He isn’t sure how to move forward from here now that the cat needs to go back in the bag somehow.
This conversation got me thinking about commitment. Perhaps wanting more commitment from a significant other, an employee or an employer, a friend or a family member is actually an opportunity to make a bigger commitment to ourselves. What if we took that longing for a diamond ring or a promotion and turned it in to a longing for a deeper love and understanding of ourselves?
One way to begin practicing this kind of self-commitment is to be willing to sit with ourselves, our ever-changing and fluid selves. Feeling your feelings instead of resisting them is saying Yes to a proposal from your deepest self. This self-commitment can be as scary as committing to a lover or a job. Be gentle and brave as you observe and explore the flow of emotional sensations in your meditation.
Not all of us grew up with adults that could hold space for our fears, sadness, insecurities, or even joys. Some of us were raised by people who couldn’t commit to themselves let alone to us. We now have a chance to create and hold that space for ourselves. Every moment is a new opportunity to commit to knowing ourselves more deeply and staying present to our experiences more completely.
It can seem terrifying to sit with feelings like the heartbreak that my friend felt when his lady answered, “Not yet.” I often hear people who are resisting challenging emotions say, “If I start crying I don’t think I’ll ever stop.” You will stop. You might start back up again for a while, but the tears, fear, embarrassment, or whatever it is for you, won’t go on forever.
Furthermore, as anyone who has sat for long enough with emotional discomfort will tell you, your relationship with painful emotions will start to change. You will begin to notice that emotions are simply physical sensations, and when separated from the story in your head, they stop being bad or good. You begin to recognize them as the movement of life, the energy that is in all things.
Committing to yourself, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death, is something you can do every time you stay with an uncomfortable emotion instead of checking Facebook or some other distraction. It’s something you can do every time you listen to the small clear voice inside that tells you to take that exciting new job even though you are afraid. It’s something you can do every time you sit down on your cushion and do your meditation daily practice. The commitment you make to yourself every day will create a foundation for a deeper and deeper self-love. You deserve that commitment.