Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Permission, Invitation, and Forgiveness in Spiritual Relationships

Permission, invitation, and forgiveness are an important dance within relationships. In awakening, we become very deeply aware of how interconnected we are. That fuels awareness around when we feel other people stepping over inner boundaries, some of which we didn't realize we had. We also may become super conscientious about when we feel like we're invading someone else's space. For those who habitually did such things as part of the core personality (such as the aggressive man pursuing a woman he likes), you can go through a total re-writing of how to interact in relationships that can be quite jarring. However, it is all manageable, and the more deeply you come into the awakened state, the more natural it becomes to engage with people by offering invitations to those with whom you'd like to connect, asking for permission to connect with others, and offering and receiving forgiveness around missteps.

When Awakening Strikes
One of the central parts of a spiritual awakening is that it takes you deep into a space of integrity. You can now see what is and is not right for you, and you see where your actions have been in accordance with your deepest truths and love. You also see where they have not been in agreement with that divine awareness. This last part is why I like to work with someone slowly if they have a lot of pain. To wake up suddenly and see all the ways that you've hurt yourself and others can be extremely upsetting. I think that's probably why the spiritual path is often a slow one for most people.

Most people are on the conscious path. Gradually with dedication and patience, they chip away pieces of old pain. New things open up, and little by little, the beauty of their light grows. With a spontaneous awakening, the light switch illuminates the whole room. As such, any and everything that has not been in integrity in your life is illuminated. It can be quite jarring.

Permission: Relearning How to Connect with Others
In a world that has focused on taking from each other, the emergence of the importance of asking for permission is a striking counterpoint. In the realm of dating, there's this idea that men are supposed to pursue and dominate women to varying degrees. It's the opposite side of permission. Tons of men and women are hardwired for this kind of interaction. A spiritual awakening wipes out that wiring, and just in the world of dating, there's a whole level of permission and invitation that now has to take place for the relationship to feel good. If you're a guy used to gaming the chicks, that won't work for you anymore, and you'll have to completely re-vamp your understanding around connecting with women (of course everything is being revamped anyway). If you're a woman always waiting for prince charming or you are someone who enjoys the pursuit, you'll suddenly realize that you can't wait anymore or be passive in your love life. You'll also suddenly be hugely turned-off by the very same advances from men that used to turn you on.

And then this little idea of permission comes in, and you have to figure out how to ask to be in someone's life. This really includes any relationship. You may discover all kinds of unconscious interactions with a current spouse, friend, business relationship, and so forth. You'll discover the many hundreds of little invasions of privacy you have done or invasions of your space you've allowed. There is a pretty big transition that goes with understanding how to change the way you are in romantic as well as all other relationships, and it starts with vulnerability.

Vulnerability Becoming a Source of Strength
Vulnerability is simply being open. Openness is strength. Closed eyes can't see. Closed minds can't learn. Closed hearts can't feel. But when we first start opening up, we feel tons of stuff all at once. For instance, you may have enjoyed debating politics, but now the way people interrupt each other to make their points and win ego-battles is really upsetting. Other situations where you thought things were going swimmingly now appear to be grossly out-of-whack. It feels like your world has been turned upside down. But really, you've just realized that your world already was upside down.

In a close relationship, you can now feel your lover's level of negativity and social dis-ease. You become incredibly aware of all the unkindness as well as kindness, and that energy can feel very physically unpleasant (for the negative stuff) and extremely pleasant (for the positive stuff) to you. In moments like this, you have to learn to state your needs from a vulnerable loving place while making room for your partner to have absolutely no idea about what you're talking about. It's tough because you may have had a bad day yourself, but you can't get in an emotional tug of war with your partner (especially if this is something that you both have done before in your relationship). By learning to invite your partner to connect with you in a new way, you're shifting the relationship towards a healthier dynamic. But if they choose not to work with you, then you most likely have to accept that the relationship is ending.

Forgive Yourself, Again and Again
You are going to make a lot of mistakes. This is part of life as well as learning how to integrate your true self amidst this awakening, but as you do, remember that you're on a fast learning curve. The more you learn to forgive yourself, the easier the process goes. Forgiveness helps you to not hold onto grudges and mistakes, especially in regards to things that you do to yourself. It can't be a wanton forgiveness that you do and then you don't learn from your mistakes. True forgiveness understands what happens in a situation, and then you make changes that you need to make. That's why the embodied spiritual path really involves all aspects of us (heart, body, mind, and soul). Everything needs to be melding together so that you fully learn the lessons that are being presented to you.

Forgiving others will also continue to be really important. Even as you learn to invite people into your life in new ways, others may continue to not connect to you in healthy ways. Setting boundaries is inherently a part of this process, and a lot of boundaries are often needed initially when you're completely restructuring your inner world. When the doctor is operating, people aren't riding their bicycles through the operating room..

Asking for Permission Even in the Small Things, Especially in the Small Things
It may suddenly seem very weird to feel like you have to ask for permission to do things that you did before. You may suddenly be asking your children or your spouse if they'd like a hug where before you'd just give them a big hug when you felt moved to do it. You will get some interesting responses from surprise to denial of the request. The responses will kick up reactions inside you. Take a look at your reactions and learn what's going on with them. If you feel rejected, you've just found an issue to learn from and to clear from your energy field. As always, I encourage people to journal around little issues like these; you often find out that they underpin much larger issues in your life (like social approval and acceptance).

You'll also find how much more empowered and alive situations become when you ask for permission for something and you get it. The giving and receiving in relationships becomes much fuller and expansive when both people are fully engaged. Inviting people in tells people that you are open to receive something. Asking for permission to share tells people that you are ready to offer something. The combination is quite powerful and free of obligation (albeit obligation will probably try to stick around; it's just another issue to learn from).

Invitation and an Adjustment Time Period
Finally, let me reinforce the importance of offering invitations. Letting people know when they can do something with you and when they can't is important to setting boundaries (especially if you're in a relationship right now). Not everyone will take your invitations, but it's a very clean way to let people know when something is appropriate for you. Above all else, a spiritual awakening makes you exceedingly transparent in life. Playing guessing games and lack of communication (because your partner should just know what you want) will kill relationships, and once again, that's why vulnerability during this whole process is important.

Everyone's adjustment time period is different. It usually goes on as long as a person resists what's happening. I encourage people when they're shifting and adjusting to new boundaries to pay attention to what feels right and give permission to those situations and people. Conversely, you need to forgive those who don't know how to be in those spaces and to forgive yourself where you make mistakes. It's all going to be all right. Most of all just give yourself permission to shift into the awakened state, and things will attend to themselves.
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