Sunday, May 20, 2012

Creating the New Relationship on the Spiritual Path

I want to start out by saying that I want you to think of relationships in the broadest possible context. The ultra-focus of people on relationships as only sexual-romantic partnerships specifically between men and women is too narrow, and we can't get anywhere on this topic until we look at relationships in a much wider view. Because living in a body in this world of duality, we create relationships with everyone and everything. Even if a relationships is a brief "hi, how are ya?" to some stranger on the street, there's a whole load of information and connection that happens in that micro-second. And as many people are discovering, we have a relationship with the planet and our environment. We even have relationships with things like cars, houses, and so on. So as I delve into the topic of creating what I'm going to call "The New Relationship," I encourage you to open up your perspective and begin to think about all the relationships that you have and maintain in your life.


The New Relationship Always Starts With You
As always, the beginning point of any relationship is you. How are you in relationship to yourself? Do you like you? Do you love all of you? What parts of you are you trying to ignore? Where are you cut off from yourself? The sad truth is that many of us don't like ourselves. We've absorbed the delusion of this world and have decided that some parts of us are okay and some are not. This has gotten extremely physical, and consequently, there are all kinds of surgeries that people go through to make their bodies look a certain way in this youth-centric culture. Truly, aging gracefully has been greatly diminished and semi-replaced by this manic idea of staying young-looking at all costs. In many ways, people are emotionally- and spiritually-stunted by this very idea because they are always looking for external approval from a society that is focused on youth and quite frankly doesn't really like itself. No one is happy when they they are always trying to get approval from someone else. So you have to start by giving approval to yourself.


Rebuilding, Remaking, and Tearing Down Again
The fact of the matter is that spiritual awakening doesn't have to be a difficult thing, but we have so much crap in the way that the first step of most awakenings is usually to tear out everything. We get stripped down to our very foundations, and that's a humbling path to walk. Then we have to rebuild. Sometimes, it feels like we're doing both at the same time, which can be a very exhausting process. But it is necessary. It's the only way to make space for the fullness of you, and to rebuild this relationship with yourself is the first step for being in integrity with any other relationship that you can have. If you still don't like yourself, then you'll attract other people who don't like themselves. Then you'll want to blame the world, as if it's the world's fault for you not liking you. "Why am I always attracting assholes?" you say. Well, there's an answer for that, and you can find that answer when you look in the mirror.

The spiritual path--you may have noticed--is not just a touchy feelly stroll through the woods. There are some jaguars out there that are going to right out your innards.

Take a Breather, There Should Always be Rest and Ease
But I don't want to terrify you too much. I am simply acknowledging the whole of the spiritual path, much as you need to acknowledge the whole of everything. People think that the spiritual path is just about fluffy feelings and wonderful connective moments. It is about those things, but it's about everything else too. Learning to unconditionally love and accept everything is the spiritual path, and that means learning how to be with states of awareness and moments that are really uncomfortable at times. The more you can be with such things, the greater your breadth of yourself you have space for. Because those uncomfortable moments are coming from within you 90% of the times just as the really good ones are generally coming from within you (which is always a tough sell for people when I write about spiritual sexuality, but it is the honest to God truth).

Yet with all of this, it's important to take a breather and find rest whether in the high ecstatic moments or the low despairing moments. They are all coming and going, and you can hold onto any of them. With that, the next point of this blog is to let go.

Joining and Releasing: The True Breath of the New Relationship
I'm calling this "The New Relationship" because most people don't know how to connect with others. They are used to latching on and holding on for dear life for as long as possible and trying to keep everything the same as the first moment that they met. Others are terrified of ever connecting too deeply and circle around above the waters wanting to dive deep, but being afraid of drowning in those waters. Those relationships are built on fear and working out karma. The New Relationship breathes. There's a time for breathing in a new friend, co-worker, boss, or lover, and then, there's a time for releasing that relationship. Some of these types of relationships can change quickly if not throughout a day. While I don't necessarily recommend it, two people could be boss and employee during the day, friends grabbing drinks at night, and lovers in the early morning. Unfortunately, they most likely would get stuck somewhere and would not let go of one of the roles--I'm sure you have a guess where.

I only am writing it out to show you how fluid things can naturally be. In truth, each time you leave a person, you leave that relationship. Then the next day, you actually have the ability to start over, let it go completely, or change the relationship. You don't have to be and act the same way all the time. In truth, the holding on to the idea of relationships is one of the most toxic things people do. They don't allow each other to grow, and that's a key point to make in The New Relationship--it expects that people will grow and change.

Finding Partners Who Can Learn a New Dance
I'm sure that more than a couple of you really like this idea, but the fact of the matter is that you probably don't really know how to do this dance. I don't recommend anyone ever drops a romantic partner/husband/wife purely to chase after a new idea. As I said, I want you to think of relationships in a much broader context, so step one is learning how to accept your own need to change and giving space for you to grow. There is not one thing in you that you can hang on to. In letting go, you will find far greater resiliency, love, and strength than you could imagine, however. Until you let go, you are stuck. You are stuck in old habits, and you are stuck in the old unhealthy relationship you have with yourself. This might even be veiled as the self improvement path, where you are constantly unhappy with yourself and think you need to "improve" to some perfected state. Get over it. That's impossible. There is no perfect state other than to completely accept yourself as you are. The more you do this, the more easy it will be to make the changes that really matter and ignore a lot of the other nonsense that's out there.

Mastering the Solo Dance, Then Ask a Partner
As you feel more comfortable with this loving relationship that you have with yourself, I'd encourage you to find a friend to practice this new relationship with. You don't have to really do anything differently than you'd do with yourself such as:
  • Being honest
  • Being loving
  • Being compassionate
  • Showing up for each other
  • Committing to the relationship
  • Committing to growth
  • Committing to the temporariness of the relationship
Those are some of the highlights. Obviously, there are more. But the key thing is to not try to make it be anything. People seem to try to force relationships into different molds, and for the new relationship, you need to practice letting the relationship tell you both what it wants to be. You may naturally meet with similar senses of humor. You may enjoy doing yoga together. You may enjoy talking. However, there may be other things that don't naturally connect. You may not like eating out together. You may not think alike. That's okay. Find space to accept all of your friend.

You will also need to get used to hearing the truth. It can be really upsetting at times if you aren't used to it and you hear:
  • "Yes, those jeans look terrible on you."
  • "Yes, you should divorce your spouse."
  • "Yes, you are a beautiful soul who is playing small and can give way more than you're currently giving."

The truth can cut deep through lies, and you'll find out where a lot of them are if you have the courage to practice this dance. Naturally, all the above things need to be said through loving kindness. It doesn't necessarily mean that you enjoy hearing them. But whether you're sharing these reflections or receiving them, it's important to be able to be with them instead of running from the discomfort, which is what 90% of people do in this world and why most relationships are unhealed and full of pain.

Calling in Deeper Connections
You may be surprised how jarring and unsettling it is to be in The New Relationship. You may be saying, "You know when Jim started writing about this, I was all for it. Now, I think I don't want that at all." That's fine. No one is forcing you to do anything. That's the great beauty of this life. You can have whatever relationships you want, but I do promise you that the more of these types of relationships you have around you, the more you won't want any other kind. There's an acclimation time period as you get used to how to be in this type of relationship that's based on honesty, clarity, and love, and then after awhile, you'll want to go deeper.

At this point, this is where we're talking about very deep connections. They can still be in the realm of friendship, but that's not really the right word. We don't really have a good word for this kind of deep spiritual friendship, but it's like having a best friend or multiple best friends. You may also call in a very powerful romantic partner, which tends to really add fuel to the fire. It lights up all the core issues even more. The closer you get and the more open you get, the more intimacy is possible. But at the same time, the more any blocks, fears, or other issues that are in the way get illuminated. It can feel painful. I know that for some of my students just being on the phone call when I'm reflecting something back to them can be excruciating...and that's just a phone call. Part of this is, as I said, getting used to deep connections, so before any of you try to go find that perfect soulmate (oy...please read this soulmate blog about that stuff before doing that), start with yourself and build up to the deeper connections so that you're ready and can appreciate the immense gift you're about to share with another.

Loving Immensely, Then Letting Go
And then let go of the idea of time. A deep connection may only last for ten minutes with a person, and then it'll never return. Moments are like that. Connections also need no amount of time to become deep. The more you know how to open, the more deeply you can go quickly and easily to whatever level is appropriate and natural for that connection. Some connections last lifetimes as our souls interweave throughout the many worlds we travel to. Others are just a passing smile or nod. But practice loving them all as they are. Don't try to extend them past what they are. Don't try to hold on when you know it's over. Commit fully when they are there, and breathe them deeply. But remember to exhale. Remember to let go. It's the cycle, and as you get more comfortable with the cycle, you'll see that you're always in deep connection with not just everyone, but everything.

The lovely photo for this blog is a generous gift from my student, Jenn.
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