Love, again

I have never managed to think of my work as “just” work. It is almost impossible for me to go to school, teach, and then go home and let go of my day. I believe this is both because of my personality but also because of the nature of my work. I am always surrounded by people. My work is with and for people and we are constantly communicating and exchanging what I would like to call energy. We come to school with our mindset – the one we have that day, and the one we have formed throughout the years – and out of it, we mingle. Students, colleagues, and parents.

That is one of the things I like most about my job because I feel that I am constantly learning about human interactions and about my own mindset and attitudes. At the same time, when I forget to be mindful, it is one of the most exhausting parts of my job because I put myself in the position of “manager of emotions”. My students, their parents, and my own emotions… usually, I have enough with mine!

I sometimes observe in myself an inclination to mentally and emotionally oppose moments of tension. When there is a disagreement, when someone is experiencing distress and several people are involved, if I stop and observe myself, I feel resistance, especially if I feel one side is being more “reasonable” than the other, or when the distress is created by an experience of a situation that I feel is exaggerated, limited or even erroneous. However, once I have taken the time to take a step back and gain some perspective, I know that my rigidity doesn’t help because I end up being dragged into an emotion that is not mine and add to my frustration and judgment.

This month, my sangha chose as the topic of our gathering “love”. We decided on the topic at our last meeting, and we will all come to our gathering next week with our reflections, questions, and quotes to share. I have been reflecting on the topic of love through the lens of my understanding of the teachings in the Bhagavad Gita. The first thing I can say is that love in the context of the Gita is not limited to romantic love. It is bigger than that. Still, I find it difficult to define it. So I can do as when trying to describe Atman, by negation. Love is not a transaction, love is not conditional and it is not the result of an intellectual process.

I have been thinking that we often mix “love” with “like”. In French, we use the same word for both, “aimer”. However, we can say that love is something that unites us, that is bigger than us and at the same time part of us, so it cannot be subject to our judgment which comes from our limited mind. In the context of the Gita, we learn that we are love. We don’t need to search for it outside ourselves, we have it and we just have to move our attention inwards to see it, touch it, and show it.

If we think of love as some sort of power we have in ourselves, we then can use this love in different situations. We can put love at the base of all our actions. I do my work with love, I talk to others with love, and I navigate through difficult situations using love as a compass. It can sound like a cliché, but it isn’t.

So, when once again this week, I suddenly felt I had the responsibility to manage a situation where students were each other at their mental “corner”, acting out of their minds, opposing each other, with emotions all over the place, I reminded myself of the power of love. Somehow, this reminder allowed me to slow down and let go of the opposition. I stopped and thought, how can I create a space for both of them? Their emotions feel very real right now, both need acknowledgment but they also need to see each other. I don’t know how, but it worked. I managed to open my perspective and create space for everyone and I think everyone felt seen and heard. Furthermore, one of my students approached me with very nice reflections that I think will help them in the future. Because that is what it is all about, isn’t it? Not necessarily about solving conflicts, but helping my students find a way to navigate through human interactions in a constructive way, in a way that respects their individuality but at the same time respects other people’s individuality too, creating a space for everyone to thrive.

I didn’t give any answer because, like most of the time, I don’t have one (which often is a source of stress and distress for me), I just invited them to ask questions that can bring us closer together. I have written this many times, but I will write it again, we all live out of our minds and this is bound to create a conflict unless we accept this fact and put love in between each other to create some sort of consensus. The challenge is to be constantly mindful of this simple principle.

I am very excited to hear what my sangha has to say on the topic. I will maybe share in an other post.

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