Monday, July 11, 2011

Love and Relationships on the Spiritual Path

This is following up in the vein of the spiritual awakening and instant connections blog post. One of the amazing things about awakening is how easy love becomes. It's not a new evolution of love. Rather, it is a returning to what love already is. It's everywhere. It's in us and all around us, but we've been taught otherwise. We've been taught that love is scarce and requires an immense checklist before allowing someone into that space. Many of us have been taught that love really only exists between a man and a woman in a long-term, romantic, and sexual relationship. And there's no end in sight to the number of failed relationships as people try to cram love into that one form. Love is much bigger than that--much more alive and flowing, and so this blog post is an offering of my insights around just how big love can be.

Stop Looking for The One
I would be happy if I never heard the terms "the one" or "soulmates" again. Those of you who who've been reading my blogs for awhile know that I have a very different definition around soulmates. Actually I have a couple. :) But the main one is that there are a few people out there that have an incredible charge for you, and you have an incredible charge for them. They don't have to be the opposite gender or whatever your gender of preference is for romance. And they don't have to be romantic partners. Sometimes, it's much easier if they're not. But when you come into each other's lives, everything starts to shift. You push each other further on each other's soul paths.

This can mean that your soulmate absolutely pisses you off. You are driven to distraction because this person hits all of your issues so hard. Those issues are the things standing in the way of your full opening. Those issues are all the places where you hold back or can't connect. And they're in the way of you doing what you need to do in this lifetime. Conversely, you're likely applying the same pressure to your soulmate, and so in the very small confines of the old terminology around soulmates (one and only, til death do us part, yada yada yada), it will likely blow up. Not necessarily. But it's a lot of energy and change to hold in a relationship. You need a really strong foundation to hold it and a lot of space for both of you to grow. And I'd also encourage you to consider that you may have several different soulmates in your life.

Love Blossoms in Many Relationships
As for "the one," that's just a lot of pop culture crap. It's also the ego trying to make it's life some version of "perfect," which is an illusion that will invariably be blown up at some point. To say that in a world of 7 billion people, you only get one "perfect" person for you is nonsense. Love moves in much broader circles. It also has it's own rhythms for romance. Romantic love, to me, is only one flavor of love. Think of love like ice cream. Sure vanilla is great, but there are other kinds. There's brotherly love, sisterly love, the love of team-mates or colleagues on a journey for a goal, fatherly love, motherly love, and quite a few others. You can fill in the blanks. These extend past families. Brotherly love can be held for a dear friend. Just as motherly love can be held for someone else's child. You simply love and honor that child in that way. There's no other agenda.

I have expounded upon love before. Love shows up in any relationship. You can have it with your boss at work. If you're still operating under the notion that love is only romantic, then this doesn't make sense. I encourage you to expand your frame of reference around what love is; you're blocking out most of it.

The Start of a Love Awakening
One of my favorite stories that I share about my own path is kind of a pre-awakening moment regarding love. It was June 2007, and I happened to be reviewing my feelings about love. I think I'd counted off on my hands the total number of people that I loved or thought I would love. I barely got onto the second hand. I said to myself, "Well, that's stupid." I called up a friend and told her that I loved her shortly thereafter, and the rush of energy that came through me was amazing. I was at a workshop the next day and was completely "spiritually high off my ass." While I don't like to tell people to seek altered states or to consider them inherently spiritual, there certainly are some moments that knock your socks off. It was amazing; I doubt I'll ever have one quite like it again as years of bottled up love came out of my heart and into my awareness. It was beautiful, and it continued the opening that would really climax in August 2007 for me.

Your Love Awakening and Opening to Vulnerability
Love and vulnerability go hand in hand. So does awakening. It's all intertwined in a flow of energy and depth and intensity. It's all really beautiful stuff, and you can have it in this instant. In the instant you let go of your criteria (needing to make a situation safe for you to open is a big one), you can have love. Love has no criteria. It doesn't need someone to be perfect, have a great ass, make a set amount of money, have straight teeth, blonde hair, or any kind of personality. It simply is, and it allows you to connect deeply with anyone in your life.

Love is also really smart, and when two people are fully open, the right relationship forms naturally between you. Too often relationships are manipulated by the ego trying to get what it wants. I'm sure that many of you have tried to turn something that needs to be a friendship into a romantic relationship. I'm also pretty sure that many of you have resisted romantic or sexual relationships and tried to cram that into friendships. In all the ways that fear steps in, love is stunted, and your energy and your life grinds to a halt. Then, the old questions come back: "Why do these types of people keep showing up in my life?" They're reflections for you to see what you're missing. If they have hard hearts, then they may be showing you how your heart has hardened. The only way to love is to open. It just doesn't work any other way.

Moving at the Speed of Love
Love is also instantaneous when you don't get in the way. I know that lots of people want to believe that it takes a long time to open up and fall in love with someone, but that's purely ego. It's trying to manipulate the equation. Certainly, long-term relationships take work to stay clear and in integrity. That's part of living in this world, but love is the easy part. If it's not, then--as Rumi says--it's time to find all the barriers that you've placed in front of it. Because most of what we feel happens inside of us.

Now, take it from me, I've had some AMAZING connections with different people, and so I can tell you that there is a lot of energy that can pass between two people or multiple people (as I said not necessarily in a romantic context). But for the most part, the amazing love that we experience is simply us. It's simply emerging inside of us. I've had moments where it feels exactly the same as being in love happen while I'm working on a freelance project at my computer. It's an astonishing feeling, but it certainly has nothing to do with my project.


Trusting Your Own Love
Somewhere along the way, I think we all stopped trusting our hearts. We got into this delusion that somehow closing our hearts protects us. It doesn't. It makes us cold, callous, and isolated. It's a horrible place, and from that place, we do horrible things to other people. I would encourage you that if you are having trouble opening your heart, find one thing you can do each day that you love. It doesn't have to be anything special. If you love gardening, spend 15 minutes with your garden. If you love painting, spend time painting. If you love playing with your children and their toys, then do that. Anywhere your heart is fully into something, that space of love opens further and changes your life.

Afterwards, you can pay attention to when it starts to close. When do you feel the need to protect it? Can you lean into those situations a little more? Can you stay open a little longer? This doesn't mean taking abuse. In fact, an open and loving heart won't tolerate cruelty in any form for very long. You'll find that love is as much about loving yourself as loving another. And if you keep staying open, you may be amazed at how your life suddenly transforms.
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