Reflecting on the word harmlessness, we can begin to discover what that word means to you. The guided visualization, inspired by Wayne Muller, is a powerful commitment to live a life of non-harm, which is enlivening to relationships. When we are challenged to make decisions about how to best proceed in our relationship, we can run our decision through the fine sieve of harmlessness and our relationship is likely to thrive as a result.
Once we imagine the depths that we can move to if we live a life without inner conflict, our motivation to practice harmlessness with others and ourselves increases. We want to find ways to be sure that we are living without violence toward ourselves or anyone else, especially to those with whom we are the closest.
Reflect on the following words as a guided visualization (inspired by Wayne Muller) and then form the essence of the meditation into your own words. First, consider the word harmlessness and see what that word means to you. Take a moment to assess whether you are ready to make this vow to relate to ourselves without condemnation of any kind. As soon as we are ready to honor ourselves in this way, another vow is likely to follow to be kind, considerate and caring of those around us. We experience peace when we stop the pain of violent language that infects our minds and that spills over to cause harm to others.
With each breath, feel the gentle rhythm of expansion and the contraction. The breath guides us into the depth of our heart. With each breath, we soften and open the space around the center of our chest. From this breath forward, I will do no harm to myself or to others, neither in my thoughts or my words, nor my actions. I will refuse to use violence toward myself or anyone else.
We can gently become aware of any resistance we may meet in our body/mind to taking this vow. Meet any resistance with understanding. Caress the resistance with the vow of non-harm. I will not judge, criticize, or in any way use language to destroy the beauty of my spirit or that of another. From this breath forward, I will not use any violence against others or myself even in the secret privacy of my own thoughts.
I will touch my fear, confusion, mistakes, and failures with gentleness, kindness and compassion. I will not reject myself; I will strive to accept every single part of me. I will use no language that brings injury to myself or anyone else. I am the voice of your inner sweetheart; I am always with you; I am the part of you that is wise and loving. By cultivating the inner sweetheart, I learn to fully love myself and to consistently allow my love to radiate to those around me.
Then gently allow your eyes to open.
We can welcome these words offered in this vow of non-harm, and view them as a starter kit. We can go on to make this affirmation our own. Our own words will be much more effective than someone else’s. We can repeat our version many times, whenever we need to be reminded that we are wonderful as we are. Our words remind us of how much love we have to give to others. We all lapse and forget, and break our vows. We don’t have to blame ourselves for imperfection. We can be gentle with ourselves as we learn to love, to take the vow again.
When we are challenged to make decisions about how to best proceed in our relationship, we can run our decision through the fine sieve of harmlessness. That process will serve us every time. Sometimes the choices are small ones, that won’t have big consequences but there are others that may have huge consequences. Examples that give us pause are disclosing our own previous or current wrongdoing or dissatisfaction about some aspect of our relationship.
Although it is generally a good policy to have no secrets or lies in a relationship, there are exceptions to the rule. Honesty, transparency, responsibility and respect are foundational in a strong partnership. There is a place for concealment when the preservation of the relationship for the long term is at stake. Concealment can be a demonstration of our respect for our partner, and may be the best of our choices. The overall level of harm may be greater if we disclose. The only way that this policy works is if we each are ruthlessly honest with ourselves as we make our decision. To conceal must never be used as an easy out to not deal with what the truth will provoke.
There are times when we are especially challenged to reflect carefully on the message that we need to deliver to our partner. If we take the time to form what we are feeling and needing in our relationship, including non-harm in our planning, we are likely to find ways to speak our truth without blame and judgment. If we take on the practice of harmlessness, and practice diligently, we will become adept in that art and our relationship is likely to thrive as a result.
Linda Bloom L.C.S.W. has served as psychotherapist and seminar leader practicing relationship counseling almost forty years. Check out her OMTimes Bio.
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