Spiritual Awakening and Transitional Relationships

Relationships were a popular topic at the meditation group that I was at last night. Whether it's spirituality or general dating advice, relationships are kind of a perennial topic for people. When I use the term, however, I am typically speaking much more broadly than the romantic/sexual relationship, which is the common understanding of the term. I use the term relationship in reference to how you view yourself to how you spend time with your dog to how you are sitting on a bench. "Hello, Mr. Bench? How are you today?"

Seriously though, there are many kinds of relationships, and there are all ultimately transitory.

Accepting the Ever-Changing Nature of Relationships
If you are able to have the exact same relationship with someone, I think you need to be committed. No one stays the same. Only the mind's illusions and mental games can convince you that someone is the same for many years as well as convince you that you're the same. Everyone changes, and all of our relationships change. My grandmother commented in reference to her marriage that there have been ebbs and flows, good times and bad times. That's 60 plus years of experience right there peoples, so I think she knows what she's talking about. She most certainly doesn't have the same relationship with my grandfather that she had in her twenties, and subsequently, it illustrates the most important fact that we all have to accept about relationships: they'll change.

Transitional Relationships and Evolving Relationships
I'm writing a little bit more for those of you in awakening, but this still applies to everyone. The difference seems to be magnitude. Sure everyone has transitional and evolving relationships, but when someone wakes up, it feels like everything goes faster, bigger, harder. It's like earthquakes. A 4.0 earthquake is very different than a 7.0 earthquake. Sure, they're still both earthquakes, but one of them is really knocking some shit down.

So what do I mean by transitional and evolving relationships. Here are my latest definitions (as many of you know, I'm constantly making stuff up. These definitions will probably only last for about a week ;).

  • Transitional relationship: This relationship helps you to transition from one point in your life to the next. It's really meant to be a bridge and to dissolve once you've been guided/helped to this next point. Holding onto it will bring great pain as well as stop you from continuing on the journey unfolding for you.
  • Evolving relationship: The evolving relationship has multiple cycles of beginning, middle, and completion. A person will come into your life, and they'll be there for a week, month, year, or some other timeframe, and then that person will leave. When they come back in, the relationship is very different, so in a way, it really feels like starting new, although there will be something of a foundation from your prior connection.
Your Personal Evolution on the Spiritual Path
All these relationships are sacred--well, ultimately, every relationship is sacred, but let's not hide out in ultimate truth right now. These relationships are helping you through a major spiritual transition. That's their purpose. I've had more than a few of these relationships. Personally, I really love the evolving relationships because when the person cycles back into my life, we're able to meet at this new point of connection. The people who've done that with me really enrich my life, and it's so much fun to see a whole new corridor of connection open up in my life. Usually, those people who do this in my life have been doing their personal work to expand and grow themselves. I haven't seen others who aren't working in such a dedicated way on their spiritual paths cycle back into my life. Those connections typically come to completion.

As I said about the transitional relationships, you should consider them to be a bridge and nothing more. You're not using them. Most likely, you're being a bridge for them wherever they are going, and you'll certainly notice when those relationships are done. You won't feel as connected anymore. Obstacles and barriers crop up in your relationship. Finding time together (as friends, work colleagues, lovers, etc.) becomes more and more difficult. And when you are together, you find that you don't want to be around that person much anymore. It's time to let go.

Letting Go of Relationships that End on the Spiritual Path
The great truth in life is that all relationships end. People try to stretch them out and immortalize them in this way or that, but that's not how life is. I'm sure that in some way it's another projection of fears around death--fears around things ending. But those endings are important. They help make space for new relationships to spring up in your life. In no other area is this quite so hard for many of us, but we have to learn to let go. Let go of the relationship for what it was. Let go of the idea of the relationship and all the ways that we cling to it. Let go of trying to replace it; no one will ever be what that person was to you ever again. And that's okay. Letting that sink in can be a lifetime of work for some of you, but that's okay too.

Arising of New Relationships and the Movements to Longer Term Relationships
When you wake up, everything kind of explodes for awhile, but that's temporary. One of the things that I'm always impressed with is how the very profound and established spiritual teachers are so grounded and solid. They've passed through the fire, and they've grown their roots through years of dedication and discipline. I'm not super into saying that you have to meditate this way or that way, but I do strongly encourage everyone to have some kind of regular dedicated practice. Find something that works for you, but be diligent with it. You have to unwrite all kinds of social conditioning crap that is making you live trapped in your own skin, and that's why discipline is so important. You're cultivating a flow internally that allows you to flow in life, but you're not simply flowing all over the place wherever the currents take you (although for some of you, you've chosen that life path, and that's fine. We all make our choices).

And so, the great teachers show us that as we develop our true relationship with ourselves, the shifting of relationships around us can start to subside. It really depends on your path and where you're headed. It's different for everyone. But in my own life, I feel this shift from the transitional nature of my life over the last 4 or 5 years into a more established, deeper grounded space. I've been watching how some of my relationships that I've made are now growing roots and moving deeper into connection. It's a beautiful thing to be a part of, but I find that where it was clear what some of the transitional relationships were about in bridging a gap, that I'm not yet sure what some of the relationships now in my life will evolve into. But I'm sure they're here for a reason, and I know that I have a lot of space for that evolution--not holding, trying to withhold judgment, and giving things time to grow.

I encourage you to do the same. Let go. Be with the gifts that people offer you, and know that the right people are always in your life--even if they're pissing you off enough to help you make a much needed change. You are right where you're supposed to be in this moment, and you have all the relationships you need to have.