THE DARK SIDE OF IMAGINATION

This past summer was not terribly easy for me. I was waist-deep in misery, too deep to deny but not yet deep enough for me to seek help. At the heart of it all, I felt alone in love and that’s never a good description of a relationship.

Poor A, he’d had no clue of my emotional turmoil and was visibly lost. He comforted me as best as he could but for me, that wasn’t enough to make it go away. It was still an open wound, one that might have stopped bleeding but had not been properly stitched up. It hadn’t even occurred to me at any point that all the loose ends were in my mind and my heart, not in my relationship.

It took several more days for change to come, and it didn’t come without effort on my part. I found some books on Buddhist philosophy at our downtown library and through the principles of detachment, gratitude, and unconditional compassion, I came to see that I had been undermining my love from the inside, tearing it down through needless comparisons, lack of appreciation, and ungrounded paranoia.

I was living in the future, an ugly future that hadn’t happened yet.  

My imagination, which I had always prided myself on, had become my worst enemy. Its creative power was now destructive, fashioning nightmares out of deep-seated insecurities and rooting them in my daydreams. Arguments, infidelity, violence, danger – all manners of negative fantasies were invading my thoughts, though neither A nor life had ever given me reason to believe they held an ounce of water. I was so engrossed in this self-imposed dystopia that I found myself constantly in a gloom, on guard around my own sweetheart and resentful of the dark circumstances that would inevitably come.

It’s a scary place to be, trapped in the isolated room of your own imagination. There was nothing he or I could do, it seemed, to put me at ease. But when I took up yoga, something I also decided to try was meditation, or zazen. In zazen, you simply sit, and you let all your thoughts come and go, not actively trying to prevent them from surfacing but consciously refusing to dwell on them. As you sit and breathe, you remain a blank canvas, untouched by the words and images that pass you by. After meditating every morning for a week, I became hooked on the feeling of an empty mind. While it wasn’t happiness in itself, it was serenity, and it was so lightweight, so easy, and so comforting to know that I could consciously reach into my mind and erase away all the thoughts if I didn’t like them, even if just temporarily.

Negativities still haunt me from time to time, and it’s not always practical in a busy weekday to make time for meditation. But every moment that I’m with A, I’m trying to channel that feeling of serenity, the one where nothing matters but the present, and what happens will happen, and what comes will go, and I am just here to experience it and appreciate it while it’s in my presence. I no longer worry about whether our love will come to an end. I no longer wonder about the odds that he’ll hurt me somehow. And beyond asking him to let me know when he’s made it home safely, I no longer dream up wild scenarios about danger befalling one of us. I just enjoy our time together, and thank the universe for this perfectly imperfect person, and love him while I have him.

And I don’t think I have ever been happier in love. x

 

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