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» Fault Lines: Whose Fault is it When Relationships Quake

By Susan Linden on March 18, 2015

Fault lines in the earth are lines that trace boundaries between Earth’s tectonic plates. In an active fault,

the pieces of the Earth’s crust along the fault move over time and can cause earthquakes.


Fault lines among people are potentially disruptive boundaries between what people perceive as

incompatible or irreconcilable differences. What makes a previously harmonious relationship quake?

Why is it that individuals who once got on so well find they are no longer compatible? And what can be

done to reestablish harmony, ‘kiss and make up’?


I work with young students and their parents as a school psychologist. I have a family of my own

including two sons. Sometimes I feel like I’ve seen all the possible manifestations of relationship

problems, from mild to annoying to really worrisome. And one thing that everyone seems to wonder is,

“Whose fault is it?” when something goes awry. I’ve come to the conclusion that the fault is universally

the same: We are alienated and stressed by differences that appear to separate us because we are not

grounded in what unites us.


Individuals are unique and reflect their own glorious independent attributes. What makes humanity

truly interesting is its varied characteristics. What would make humanity great would be the embracing

of its diversity.


From my perspective as a trained school psychologist, the first step is to help each person achieve her

own inner confidence because being relaxed and comfortable with one’s own individuality is paramount

in achieving comfort with others. From my perspective as a trained teacher of the Transcendental

Meditation technique, the first step in being comfortable with oneself—and by extension with

others—is to step out of the boundaries of our individual experience and have the experience of the

underlying field of boundless universal Being. By uniting the individual mind with its unbounded nature,

we establish the full range of life within our self. In Sanskrit, this unification is called yoga. In modern

terminology, the benefit of yoga is to live the full range of human potential—the unity underlying the

individual self in infinite Being or Consciousness along with our individuality that arises from it.

During the practice of TM, each individual experiences a settling of thoughts and some periods of quiet

and silence. In this state, the more surface aspects of life begin to fade as the individual’s awareness

remains alert but calm. And what remains in that silence is Being – always there, but not noticed when

our mind is caught up in the rush of daily life and the dynamics of relationships with others. This period

of time resting in the silent state of Being during meditation is the basis of being comfortable with

oneself in daily life.


I see this need to connect quietly and regularly with themselves so often in school children. Their time in

class and outside of school is often highly scheduled, and iPhones, computers, TV, video games and

social media all make it difficult to find time to just “be” or to daydream or to think quietly without

interruption or direction. Even activities that were once considered relaxing, like art or music or reading,

often take on a competitive quality having to do with achievement rather than expression. Instead of

knowing themselves, children are left seeing themselves through the eyes and responses of others. In

this situation, with fewer and fewer opportunities to settle down and sense who they are, many

students (and adults) have no basis on which to appreciate themselves, to feel a steady sense of calm

identity. They find it a huge relief when they learn the TM technique and become aware of that ongoing

quiet Being at the core of their sense of self.


At the same time, by regularly tapping in to that silent Pure Consciousness, which is the same basis of all

life, of all individuals– awareness of deeply human similarities grows. Feeling secure in ourselves and

feeling a part of the human family, tolerance, compassion, patience and happiness increase—we then

enjoy the differences, the diversity, in friends, family members, and peers. We feel confident in our own

Self and secure that our Self cannot be impinged on by any other Self.


TM practice reduces the friction that creates the “fault” in fault lines in two main ways: TM enhances

individual confidence and awareness and it connects humans by direct experience at the deepest level

of shared humanity. Differences will always be there. But they will be appreciated as interesting

expressions of another self, rather than barriers to the harmony we can all find and enjoy amidst our


About the author
Susan Linden, Masters in Educational Psychology | School Psychologist, New Jersey public middle school | TM teacher since 1972