July 16, 2014

Familiarity Breeds Contempt. ~ Valinda Case-Cochella


I recently came across a quote on Facebook about how the more we actually know someone, the less we may like them.

“Admiration and familiarity are strangers.” ~ George Sand

Then I read this interesting article on Psy blog about a study that proves just that.

As a spiritual being, seeker, yoga teacher, wife, mother, yogini and meditator, I became really interested in this idea of familiarity breeding contempt. (People do not respect someone they know well enough to know his or her faults.)

Statistically speaking, we have more of a chance of being harmed by someone we know, than someone we don’t know. Why is this? Why do friendships, family bonds and marriages end? Why can’t some of us sustain long term relationships? Why is it so difficult to maintain long relationships? Why is it so easy to project our own shortcomings onto others? It’s your fault!

Well, I’ve had an epiphany! We don’t have a relationship with ourselves.

I’ve recently been doing a 90 day sadhana (daily spiritual practice) where I have to sit and meditate for 37 1/2 minutes a day, doing this chant (Long Ek Ong Kars). It’s part of a course I am doing in Kundalini Yoga and Meditation called “The Mind and Meditation” at Yoga West Los Angeles. Although this is not the first 90 day meditation I’ve done, it’s by far the most difficult one.

This particular meditation is the first one our teacher (Yogi Bhajan) gave us when he came here in 1969. It is said to “stir the pot.” It supposedly clears the subconscious and unconscious and opens us up to our intuition.

Although I am familiar with the idea that there are many “stages” of a long term meditation practice, I was shocked about how much anger and rage has been coming up for me doing this particular meditation. I hate it. I watch the clock, I am miserable doing it and I suffer.

I have been practicing Yoga and Meditation for 20 years now, I find it to be quite blissful. The reason I became a Yoga Teacher (and especially a Kundalini Yoga Teacher) is because of how much bliss I get from my practice. Well, not this time!

So what is it? Should I quit? Should I do another meditation? Abandon the practice all together because of my level of discomfort? No.

It’s my own crap coming up, big time. 

Familiarity breeds contempt because we can’t sit with and witness ourselves.

Our own self hatred begins to take control and we project it onto others. The ones closest to us, mostly. We see through the lens of our own limitations, family structure and wounds; all those parts of ourselves we can’t stand or can’t accept…..so we just create new relationships over and over again because most of us aren’t willing to sit through the hard stuff.

I’m sitting through all of this right now in this particular meditation, watching myself, watching my relationships and I want to scream.

We must learn to be, witness and sit with our own discomfort, rage, anger, sadness or grief. This is the power of Sadhana, Meditation and a daily discipline.

Learning to be uncomfortable is a life skill.

Then maybe, just maybe we can learn to be more compassionate and tolerant of others.

 Love elephant and want to go steady?

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photos: Jochen Spalding/Flickr

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Valinda Case-Cochella