Long distance relationship as Buddhist practice? How to cope with missing a loved one from a Buddhist perspective.
For people who are in love, or who have their very best friend living miles away, it can feel like a little piece is missing from their lives.
If you are involved with someone who lives far away, you can, to a great extent, take refuge in Buddha Dharma when the longing is unbearable. As with any obstacle, you can treat the separation and longing as a Dharma practice. You can also remember how “near” your loved one by meditating on Emptiness (Oneness), Dependent Arising and Buddha Nature.
If you have a long-distance partner or friend, it is indeed possible to feel connected, even though you can’t be together. Dependence or attachment is a way of thinking and feeling and, many would argue, is not dependent on physical distance.
By Sally Keys
Being apart from someone and missing them is not incompatible with Dharma Practice. This is an opportunity to work on feeling’ whole’ despite the physical absence of your loved one. Indeed, human connection is important for Buddhists and all other human beings, who can benefit greatly from feeling like they are part of something greater than themselves. We can also use our separation as an opportunity to meditate on attachment.
“…Recognize that your own attachment is the cause of every single problem that you experience.” — Lama Yeshe
Hand-written letters as Mindfulness practice
Many studies have shown that writing a journal or letters to a loved one can help you develop mindfulness – the sensation of ‘being in the here and now’ – which is an important component of Buddhist practice. Writing a friend is also a magnificent way to connect and share your inner thoughts on practice, Dharma, and life.
As such, keeping in contact with a loved one can strengthen your faith and help you overcome obstacles. Written communications have a kind of “soulfulness” that online communication still cannot replicate. Like caligraphy practice in Zen Buddhism, letter writing, by hand, can be mindful practice.
These days, you can simply opt to print postage stamps online and drop your letters in the nearest postbox – which makes it easier and quicker to keep in touch with your friend.
Being Your Own Person
The person you love may be coming to live near you soon, or you may have common plans for the future. Continuing to communicate and show care can have beneficial effects for both. However, when you are not communicating with your loved one, it is important to keep your mind in the present moment rather than in a constant state of worry about the future.
Find healthy activities that fulfil you – be it meditation, listening to Buddhist teachers, doing your favorite sport, or simply heading out for an active day in a calm natural setting. If you feel like you are starting to feel pain because of your yearning, pranayamic breathing, meditation, and yoga can help you connect with your thoughts and feelings mindfully. These practises are also powerful ways to reduce stress and can be an aid when you are feeling the pain of missing the person you love.
A Buddhist, like anyone else, needs to connect with others. Human beings inherently seek others for a sense of connection, and if the person you feel closest to is far away, pain arises as an obstacle. The key to weathering this type of challenge is to stay connected but also independent enough to enjoy the things in life that have always made you feel alive. Mindful physical activity, friendship, cultural activities, and meditation can help fill your days —and bring a smile to your face— even though the person you love is far away.
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