Mastering Mindfullness

Mastering Mindfullness

Slowing Down and Opening Up

By Molly Layton

November/December 1995

I'm sitting with the Pattersons, an old-married couple, kids mostly grown, and she's hammering away at him. It's a first session, and I can't tell whether her startling bursts of anger are old hoary business or new. She's resurrecting incidents from 15 years ago, his affair, his drinking then, something he said here, something he did there, as if these had never before been aired between the two of them. He's not especially defensive, saying, "I know, I know," then proceeds to get lost in philosophical circumlocutions. In turn, she apologizes for her rage, but soon starts up again.

I ask, "You folks do this a lot?" They both say, "No," and she angrily says that she's kept silent for a long time. But he rolls his eyes at this, and they both describe how they've been battling for years, so I'm confused. Trying to figure out who knew what when, I ask them, Why is this all coming to a head now?" but they look as puzzled by the question as I am by the freshness of her anger.

I am not bothered much by my own confusion however, not especially anxious, although I am keeping a wary eye on the rising intensity between the two of them. The poet Keats called this space "negative capability," a capacity to hang in ambiguity without any "irritable reaching after fact." So in sitting with these painful feeling her glowering resentment, his hangdog spirit I am finally moved to ask a more fundamental question: "Are you two questioning your love of each other?" There's enough…

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Topic: Mindfulness

Tags: Mindfulness

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