The letter from the editor kicks off each issue and helps set the tone for the magazine. Over the next six issues, members of the S&H team will be writing the letter. This issue’s writer, Kalia Kelmenson, is our editorial director and resident book lover, surfer, and mind-body explorer.
I recently had an exchange with someone I consider a friend that left me feeling confused and hurt. There had been signs along the way that it wouldn’t be a smooth process, but I felt we could work through any obstacles that might come up. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I opened myself up to come from a place of vulnerability and not-knowing, and was met with a harsh reality: Sometimes people need to vent. While, ultimately, I realized that it wasn’t really about me personally, being on the receiving end of what was clearly a deep-rooted issue for this person was painful.
Relationships are tricky business. They offer some of the greatest spiritual teachings of our lives. And just when we feel we’ve gained some tools along the path and developed capacities to engage in kinder and more compassionate ways, we are handed another teacher, exposed to another part of ourselves that still has much to learn.
Pema Chödrön offers us valuable tools in “Overcoming Polarization.” Her insights into recognizing when we begin to separate ourselves from others, making us “right” and them “wrong,” are especially useful in our current collective reality. The holidays can be a triggering time for many people, and being conscious of this tendency at the level of thought can keep us from turning thoughts into action and ending up hurting others.
Preparing for the holidays can also trigger an emotional buildup. Family gatherings, while often joyful, can also bring up dynamics and old hurts that we may not even be aware of. One of my favorite teachings I have received is that when I feel triggered by someone, I excuse myself and shake my body in a private space—it sounds silly, but read Dr. James Gordon’s account, which describes this practice in his work with trauma patients.
Imagine bringing this idea to your next family gathering.
My hope for all of us in this season, and throughout the year, is that we can live more peacefully with one another, listen with compassion and an open mind, and respect each other’s perspective, even if we don’t agree with it. When we make someone else wrong, no matter how right we think we are, we are contributing to an eroding sense of relationship with others.
And at the end of the day, all we have is our relationships: with ourselves, with each other, and with our planet.
—Kalia ([email protected])