Too Zen, Mom

Joey Garcia

My mom is an amazing meditation and yoga teacher, but it makes her difficult to talk to. If I call to share news about my good grades (I’m in college), she says “accomplishment is meaningless” and I’m “wasting energy trying to fit in, instead of just being.” If I call to tell her about something sweet my boyfriend did, or something funny a friend said, my mom asks, “Why are you so attached to something that happened yesterday?” It feels like she’s always pushing me away. Please help. I’m so frustrated. I don’t know how to have a conversation with her.

The feeling is mutual, honey. Your mother doesn’t know how to have a conversation with you, either. She is skilled at critiquing your joy, while trying to sound evolved. Let’s be clear: There is nothing spiritual in your mom’s responses to you. Her comments are not helpful because she has not developed the ability to connect. She does not engage as an equal. She play-acts as guru, giving advice you never asked her to offer. Pontificating is a sign of ego imbalance.

I’m tempted to suggest that you stop reaching out to your mom and cease sharing the many delights in your life. Given her unkindness, you have every right to set such a boundary and cleave to it. But the situation with your mother could also nurture your spiritual growth. Here’s how: Be your mother’s teacher. In the process you will strengthen your capacity for self-awareness and serenity. By focusing on seeing yourself as her equal, you will avoid being her victim. So the next time you share news of, say, your academic success, and your mother tears it apart, visualize her words disintegrating before they enter your personal space. Breathe. Notice that you are unharmed. Then respond. You can be spicy and say, “That sounds like something a depressed person would say. Are you well, mother?” Or you can be sweetly philosophical: “Achievement is meaningless? What do you gain by believing that story?” Or you can be wise and say, “I understand. What is your experience with wasting energy in this moment?”

You can also be silent. Let her words hang in the air until she hears them. By practicing one of these approaches, interacting with your mother becomes your spiritual practice. More importantly, you will gain the insight your mother failed to develop even while she became adept at yoga postures and meditation techniques.

I reunited with a man I gave everything to for six years. I moved to California for him, refurbished his home and home-schooled his kids. Since we reunited, I found he has not made the behavioral changes he promised to make. I jokingly told him that we should consider our relationship to be a business arrangement. He took it seriously. Part of me is relieved, but I also feel foolish and heartbroken. How do I act around him now?

Act like a woman who values herself. Being invested in a man who is not invested in you is a sign of low self-worth. Raise your confidence through honesty. Start here: You weren’t joking when you relabeled your relationship as a business arrangement. You were testing his love. You hoped that he would fight for a committed, romantic relationship with you. He didn’t. He has what he wants. You don’t. Will you love yourself enough to leave him?

Meditation of the week
“You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process … you might just become the very best version of yourself,” said Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook. What’s holding you back?

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