October 23, 2021

How the Buddhist Concept of Sati can Seriously Improve our Relationships.


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Sati was one of the many terms we learned in the Buddhist courses I took in India and Nepal.

Fast forward to the present, I fail to remember most of these terms. But a few have stayed with me along the way, and they come to my mind whenever I’m faced with a tough situation.

Anicca, which means impermanence, stuck with me for months after my course. I ended up inking it on my left arm in Sanskrit. I haven’t inked Sati (yet), but this word has seriously improved my relationship.

So, what is Sati? Sati means awareness—mindfulness. If you’re a Buddhist practitioner, you already know by now that it’s in the Noble Eightfold Path. It’s known as “right mindfulness.”

What is right mindfulness? Clearly, it means being fully present and aware. Not lost in yesterday or worried about tomorrow—simply present. When destructive thoughts pop up, we’re present. When overwhelming emotions take over, we’re present. We observe, then we drop. Observe…then drop. Observe…then drop.

I still remember when I opened my phone after my 10-day Vipassana course. Three unseen messages from my ex-boyfriend were enough to throw me out of Sati and into a complete state of chaos.

That day, I realized that the term Sati is pretty easy to practice in the woods, away from society. But when it comes to real-life challenges, Sati is no easy feat.

After years of struggling to put this term into practice in my relationships, I finally had an epiphany. Why am I present with my dogs, in my garden, while cooking, while reading, with people, before sleeping, in meditation, but rarely with my husband?

Why is Sati so damn difficult to practice in relationships? What if love is really simpler than we think?

The answer is obvious. Relationships are an emotional playground. It is the place where emotional wounds, patterns, traumas, fears, and dysfunctions come up. It is the place that triggers our deepest hurts and gives birth to our heaviest emotions. It is a battlefield between the heart and the mind, the ego and humility, reason and absurdity.

That said, it is challenging to practice mindfulness when we are lost in our minds’ incessant activity. That was why I was never able to shed awareness onto my relationship.

Instead of enjoying coffee with my partner, I worry whether one day he will stop enjoying it with me. Instead of letting him be, I sink in my own expectations. Instead of dealing with today’s amazements, I go back to yesterday’s problems. Instead of feeling his breath against mine now, I’m concerned about tomorrow.

That’s the problem in our relationships. We are constantly oscillating between what was and what will be while seldom being in the middle. If we’re being completely honest with ourselves, I think Sati doesn’t exist at all in our romantic bonds. Even during sex when we’re supposed to be laid-back, we’re not—we’re thinking if we’re doing it right, if we can do better, if our partner can do this or that, if…if…if…

It’s been a while that I have invited Sati into my space with my partner. I want it to wash over me and take ownership. I’m trying to stop going back to the past and stop traveling to the future. Both don’t exist. All I have now is this moment. What is my partner giving me now? What am I giving him? What’s happening? Is there a problem? No? Good. Yes? Let’s see what we can do about it.

Am I worried? Am I scared? Am I lost in my delusional thoughts? Am I expecting something from my partner? Am I being reasonable?

Ask yourself any question that can bring you back to this moment in time. Rid yourself of worries, fears, and assumptions and go back to where you are with your partner, right now.

Sati is not easy. But Sati is a savior. Are you going to let it in? Is it already there? Share your story.


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