Sitting quietly by yourself is an ancient exercise. It is also the healthiest thing you can do. Sitting by yourself relaxes the heart and strengthens the mind’s ability to connect symbols and meaning (Jaffe, E. Meditate on It, smithsonian.com).
One of science’s greatest minds, Blaise Pascal, a man who invented the mechanical calculator and who has a law, theorem, and coefficient solving matrix (triangle) named after him, said this about sitting: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone”.
Our ancestors some 150,000 years ago meditated alone and sat in groups in prayer, song, and dance in order to better understand issues, determine outcomes, and improve physical and psychological health. They understood and recognized the power of balancing the basic physical and material constructs of their community with the less knowable, non-physical elements (growing cycles, weather and migratory patterns, etc.) that guided and informed their lives.
“Ritualistic gatherings sharpened mental focus” (Jaffe, E. Meditate on It) and provided this balance. Meditation also, literally, reduces the noise level and changes the functioning of nervous system’s ability to handle stress so that it becomes more efficient, creating deeper possibility (Sannella, L. The Kundalini Experience). Modern researchers have even found that several areas in the brains of meditators, notably areas associated with attention, are actually thicker than in the brains of non-meditators (Sara Lazar, Harvard University).
Sitting Brings Understanding
The main reason relationships are so challenging is because we cannot comprehend, nor often control the powerful emotions that continually arise in us and our partner. Our emotions and reactions are killing our marriage, and we cannot fathom the wisdom and guidance that these strong feelings contain.
We are at war inside, our thoughts battling our feelings. All that is logical and analytical in us becoming undone by everything irrational, impulsive, and impassioned. Your relationship reflects this war in you. “There is a sub-war between left and right brainers, between our emotion-based right brain and our logic-infused left brain” (Monroe, R. Ultimate Journey).
“Our right brain perceives form and space, beauty, intuition, and emotions, plus everything else the left brain cannot understand or categorize. Our left brain cannot categorize love, friendship or inspiration” (Monroe). Robert Monroe further reminds us that human consciousness flickers back and forth between left/right brain all day, and that peak performances come when both right and left are integrated and synchronous (Ultimate Journey).
Peak performance simply means both sides of the brain, both sides of yourself in dialogue. We need to fully comprehend, reconcile, and accept the experiences of vulnerability, discomfort, confusion, and excitement generated in us, in our marriage. The way to do this is to regain a knowledge of our emotions, peak performance, or what many now call emotional intelligence (EQ). EQ is generated by simply bringing the two sides of ourselves together;
“There is a global deficit in managing emotions; only 36% of people when tested are able to accurately identify their emotions as they happen…the communication between left and right brain is the physical source of emotional intelligence” (Bradberry, T. Emotional Intelligence 2.0).
John Bradshaw reminds us that “our emotions are our most fundamental power” (Homecoming). When we sit quietly though the electrons throughout our body begin to slow down. This slowing down allows a richer electromagnetic communication within and between the neurons of our left and right brains. The two sides begin to synchronize (Hearthmath.org). Both sides start to balance with each other, allowing our rationalizing, logic seeking part of our brain to be slowly introduced to the irrational, emotional world of our right brain. It is like the boy inside meeting the man we are today.
This is the basic premise of regaining emotional intelligence and learning the roots of our feelings. The more we sit quietly alone, the more our left and right brain functions connect. Our left-brain function “takes an idea, information, or inspiration from the right brain and puts it into action, make and turn any Unknowns into Knowns, dissolve fears, enhance experience, open new vistas, cleans out false beliefs… removes the limitations on our growth” (Monroe, R. Ultimate Journey).
Every single challenge and issue in your relationship will be addressed and solved by looking and listening inside of yourself. “The recognition of the truth about the self simply means that you must first discover what you think about yourself…you have been examining others rather than yourself (Roberts, J. Seth Speaks).
All wisdom begins with knowledge of the battles inside. Your feelings are the most authentic, accurate, and intelligent source of information, and we spend so little time listening to them. That is what sitting is.
“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own soul….who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes”(Carl Jung). Think of how much we do to avoid being silent and still; eat, drink, run, work, argue, read the paper, watch TV, listen to music, take the kids somewhere, walk the dog, talk on phone, text, talk about other people, masturbate, have sex, go on the internet, etc. All these things seem so innocuous, and in truth many are. But we are avoiding the truth, the truth about ourselves and our feelings that are stored in our bones and blood and muscles.
Marriage and meditation are the same thing—both are designed to wake you up, break you open, create massive amounts of vulnerability, and change you forever. I call it follow the ache. Sit long enough for an ache, a pain, a deep emotion, and old anxiety-infused emotion to arise, and follow it by staying with it. It will lead you to the earliest experiences that created that discomfort.
If you want to know the extent of your anger and frustration with your partner, don’t you think you will need to measure your love and hate for your father or the original male figure in your life. In short, to start in earnest the process of working on your relationship, just sit, please!