The Yoga of Relationships: Keeping the Connection in Uncertain Times - Part 2
Mantras to Relieve Suffering in Relationships, from Thich Naht Hahn
A mantra is a word, sound or a phrase that one can say to himself or another to create particular attitudes or vibrational patterns in the body/mind, like a prayer. Mantras can be used in singularity or repeated many times to elicit more of that mind-set.
While there are traditional mantras in the languages of Sanskrit and Tibetan that have been passed down for 1000's of years and used in religious contexts, mantras can be recited in any language and be used for any intention.
Thich Naht Hahn, a now deceased, world-renowned Buddhist teacher from Vietnam, suggests 4 mantras we can use as a way to relieve suffering in relationships.
My partner and I have used these mantras with each other at times when we've felt the pain of our own or each other's suffering deeply. We've used them as a way to cut through all the excuses, blame and stories we've attached to those feelings and connect on the deepest level of compassion.
My wish is that you may also take advantage of these powerful mantras to reconnect with your loved ones. You'll know when the time is right.
Mantra 1 - "Darling, I am here for you."
This simple, yet powerful mantra can be used at any time of day if you feel a considerable lack of connection with your loved one. Perhaps you see your partner is stressed or busy and you just want them to know you support them.
Sometimes, when we say "I love you," to our partners, the words are said without presence or feeling. It's a phrase so often used that it carries little weight at times, even though we may actually love the person deeply. Saying this mantra when the time is right with presence, awareness and eye contact can provoke a different set of feelings and attitudes inside you and the other person than the words, "I love you," might elicit. Try it and see.
Another reason to say this to your loved one is that, often we can be selfish with our support and instead of having an attitude of service for our loved one, there is a little subconscious voice asking, "what has he/she done for me lately?" Saying this mantra to your partner can reframe a perspective that your partner is sure to appreciate and eventually reciprocate.
Mantra 2 - "Darling, I know you are here for me and I am very happy."
This mantra can be used on its own or as a sincere response to "Darling, I am here for you." The great thing about mantras is that we say them in order to feel a certain way. It is not necessary to feel that way before and then say it. For example, if you say, I am very happy," over and over again, you will likely start to feel happiness in your heart. It's like magic.
And just like magic, this mantra can be used by yourself, for example, to acknowledge the people or pets or nature around you. As Thich Naht Hahn said he used it, you can look at the ocean and say "Ocean, I know you are here for me, and I am very happy." Or a flower and say, "Daffodil, I know you are here for me, and I am very happy." Or your pet and say, "Whiskers, I know you are here for me and I am very happy." :) It sounds funny, but try it and see how simply acknowledging another entity (sentient or insentient) can reveal deep appreciation and happiness inside.
Likewise, this phrase can also be used as a way to sincerely acknowledge and appreciate your loved one whether or not they have said, "Darling, I am here for you." Try it and see. :)
Mantra 3 - "Darling, I am suffering. Please help."
These next two mantras could be the most difficult to use at the right time, as well as the most powerful.
One reason relationships can be so difficult is because they can often delivery direct reflections of our own pain, suffering, jealousy and insecurities that we could otherwise easily hide from superficial relationships. And the way of human nature is to cast blame on the other person as the cause of our insecurities, jealousy, pain and suffering, while they are often simply the agent through which our own pain is rising.
This is the difficulty deep relationships. Sometimes when we suffer, we start to blame the other for it. Even the most conscious of conscious people do it. It's human nature. This makes it even harder to swallow our pride, go to the one we think caused us pain and say, "Darling, I am suffering. Please help me."
In doing so, you open up a portal of vulnerability and receptivity where before there was a hard block. And when we are open and vulnerable, it sparks others to be compassionate and relate to our suffering. We can't help it. It's human nature. It is in this vulnerability that a bridge is built to the other side and communication can lead to deeper compassion, acknowledgement and understanding.
If you are in a relationship where both people are willing to be vulnerable and grow in themselves, this mantra can help you move in the places you feel stuck.
Mantra 4 - "Darling, I know you suffer, and that is why I am here for you."
These simple words may be all you need to break the tension, the walls between you into deeper understanding of yourselves, each other and the human condition.
Say these words to your loved one as a response to the previous mantra or when you see your partner is suffering and want to relieve them of their suffering.
Thich Naht Hahn says:
"When you are mindful, you notice when the person you love suffers. If we suffer and if the person we love is not aware that we suffer, we will suffer even more. Just practice deep breathing then sit near to your partner and say the mantra. Your presence alone will relieve a lot of his or her suffering."
One thing to keep in mind is that it's ok if it's not easy. It's hard enough to be a single human and keep awareness, presence and compassion. Adding another complex human and watch how much more complicated things get.
The good news, is that there's a lot of potential growth and beauty inside relationships. And part of that is how we can appreciate the beauty and miracle of being a human alongside another human.
Let these magical mantras be tools on the path to deeper understanding of ourselves, each other and the world around us.