It happens. We all have breakups. Even the experts struggle with their own personal relationships. Instead of asking about relationship advice, what we should all be asking is, how do we deal with breakups in a healthy way? How do we move on, Vedic style?
1. Re-define what it means to have a ‘successful’ relationship. About 2 years ago, I decided to move across the world for love. I remember my dad saying, “if it works out, it’ll be a really good story”, and I replied, “it already is a great story. Whether or not we get married and have kids (we didn’t), it’s already a beautiful love story, and a great adventure (it was)”. Success doesn’t always mean what the fairy tales say it should mean. Success can mean taking risks, learning how to love someone exactly as they are, for the first time, or listening to our intuition when we realize things aren’t right.
2. The end of a relationship does not mean the end of our happiness. Relationships typically start off all fun and games… until we start to get a bit needy. Meditation helps us to realize that we don’t need to look outside ourselves for happiness. We dip into pure consciousness, pure bliss, every time we meditate, and that helps us to access the fulfillment that is already inside of us. What happens then? We bring that fulfillment to the world, rather than demanding it from the world (or from our partners).
3. We are unique and beautiful, no matter what happened inside our relationship. A breakup isn’t a referendum on our success or failure as individuals. It’s just that we weren’t right together. Let’s change “It’s not you, it’s me” to “It’s not you or me, it’s the relationship”.
4. It’s ok to be alone. In fact, it’s kinda awesome. I spent years in my 20s and early 30s wishing I had a relationship. Once I started meditating, though, I was better able to appreciate the fact that being alone is how we discover new things, take risks, learn to follow charm, and find our path.
5. Everything happens for a reason. In fact, everything happens for all reasons. I already knew I was going to become a meditation teacher, but always thought I’d stay in medicine as well. Leaving my job to move overseas was a huge step in allowing me to envision a different life for myself.
6. As meditators, we become much better at following our intuition. Often we ignore the early signs that a relationship isn’t working because we are so committed to ‘making it work’. Life is always moving in the direction of evolution. We can fight it, or we can surrender to the current and embrace what’s next. We may ask: what early signs did I ignore? What did I learn from this relationship? How did it make me stronger for the next one?
7. Breathe a sigh of relief. Did it feel like things were forced? Were we trying to control things, to make the relationship conform to some unrealistic ideal? Were we beating ourselves up to try to satisfy our partner? Isn’t it kind of nice that we don’t have to deal with that anymore?
8. No matter what we think, that relationship wasn’t our last chance at love. If it was the right person, it would’ve worked out. I don’t want to oversimplify this, but it’s true! Remember, we are always evolving. We are never too old, or too anything, to find love again.
9. Don’t go negative. Make a list of things you won’t miss about the other person, or the relationship. Then write down lessons learned from the relationship. Then, if you can stand it, write down a few things you loved about that person, and that you enjoyed about the relationship. Things that went well. Savoring those positive things are an important part of the grieving process.
10. Sometimes we gotta drink some bourbon and eat some french fries. Don’t forget to grieve and allow some time to process the loss. Meditators aren’t numb or soul-less. As meditators, we may actually feel our emotions even more strongly than before we started meditating. What’s different? We don’t internalize the stress anymore. We experience the emotions, we acknowledge and honor them (enter: bourbon, or tears, or training for a marathon during a Chicago winter, etc.), and then we allow the emotions to move through us without being dragged into the drama of suffering.
Relationships are a microcosm of life. No matter how badly we think a situation ended, we always have another chance to get back in there. How do we adapt when life throws us a curveball? Do we allow ourselves to evolve gracefully, or do we fight it kicking and screaming? How we move on from a difficult situation says as much, if not more, about us than any relationship ever could.