It seems that everywhere I go, every conversation I choose to engage in, the relationship issue shows up as the central theme. If I thought monogamy was a hot topic, it seems relationships are a crackling wildfire. Generally, the feedback I’ve been getting, is that good relationships are few and far between. And, the longer people have been together, the more challenging it appears it is to stay together. How very sad to me.
I recently told someone (a somewhat disheartened woman in a 30-year marriage whose spouse’s hip pain had put out his fire), that I was finally ready to be in a great relationship. She smiled and said she admired my optimism, but our conversation made me quickly realize that I’d be wise to take off my rose-colored glasses and take stock of what’s going on out in the real world. If a good relationship is almost impossible, a great one, although an admirable pursuit, may not be attainable. I’m determined to keep hope alive though.
I admit I’ve been on my own, relationship-less, for many years. My principal relationship has been with myself for all those years. The obvious reason was for my own physical healing (most thought I would not be here to even tell my story). I was so far down that frankly, the only way was up. It was, even more importantly, about my personal spiritual growth.
I’m trusting this concept of personal spiritual growth isn’t big news to anyone anymore. It is part of our human challenge and condition. Anyone who ever watched Oprah might agree that she offered a great service by bringing these kinds of topics to the everyday consciousness. I believe it is an ongoing conversation that needs to happen for our human species to keep evolving. I’m sure this means different things to different people, but I don’t think we can easily ignore it anymore.
My personal belief is that all of us are here to experience and learn through relationships. These opportunities come to us all the time. With parents, children, friends, business associates and even the casual stranger we meet and connect with. Every interaction with another, offers us a chance to be in relationship.
“No man is an island.” — John Donne.
For me, I’m most curious about the one on one personal and intimate relationship. I remember many years ago reading Gary Zukav define the concept of a “spiritual partnership”. In his incredible 1989 book Seat of the Soul, he says, “A spiritual partnership is a partnership between equals for the purpose of spiritual growth.” I know this is what I want, but wonder where do I find the other who is ready for the same thing?
Zukav goes on to brilliantly explain his four “c’s” or guidelines for a spiritual partnership. Briefly, the guidelines are: commitment, courage, compassion and conscious communication and action. It is well worth reading their full explanations here. I learned much from his wise words and know these are what I see as keys to putting the “great” in a relationship.
I’ve actually heard that people make “lists” of the things they are looking for in their ideal partner and stick by that list until they’ve ticked off all the boxes. This seems like somewhat of a futile exercise to me. Personally I’m more about another person’s energy, than a list of must-haves.
I’ve also discovered many people say they are ready for a relationship, but in actuality may not be ready. I smiled when I got a recent Hugh MacLeod Gaping Void daily email. Subject line: Forever. Graphic and Message: It took forever before I was ready… to find you. The piece went on to say:
And as we all know, Mr. or Mrs. Right isn’t just floating out there in the ether like some abstract, platonic ideal. You too have to be ready. You don’t get the person of your dreams ’till you’re ready to be the person of their dreams first. The giving precedes the getting, always. It simply has to.
We do all know this, right? Thank you Hugh!
I’ve been asking for interesting, intelligent, creative, and spiritual men to come into my life, and I admit a few have bravely shown up lately. Age doesn’t seem to matter as much anymore. Not to me anyways. I know that in our youth-obsessed culture, if there is to be depth and meaning, it has to be about something more than just the external, the physical.
I was shocked to read that 96 per cent of all adults say they would change something about their appearance if they could. This is one of the factors that led philosopher Jonathan Zap to say,
Suffering associated with body image has reached such epidemic proportions in our culture that it must be counted as one of the greatest spiritual plagues ever to be visited upon mankind.
My recent observations would lead me to agree. A culture that has lost it’s ability to age gracefully, looking for the fountain of youth, hoping to find it using fillers, injections, implants, surgeries and more. It’s not even that hard to tell who is keeping it real anymore. Somehow, it is no longer okay to get older and look it too. This isn’t only a women’s issue, as men are playing catch up in this arena as well. There are lots of statistics, if one cares to check out who’s doing what to themselves in the name of staying young. Perhaps I might need to explore this more fully in another piece.
In regards to the every changing way we do relationships, it is sad to see that current statistics show 50 per cent of all marriages end in divorce. But, the actual statistical breakdown I found, shows even more startling results. The range of results indicates that divorce rates might be anywhere from 50 per cent of first marriages, 67 per cent of second, and 74 per cent of third, depending on the source. The odds seem to clearly be stacked against the possibility of successful marriage.
Enough to make me re-examine how a future relationship might look to me. As one of my men friends recently said to me, “Marriage is a contract two people try to make work.” And I tend to agree. Sometimes for all the wrong reasons if the statistics are correct, and with very discouraging results.
Many years ago Bob Dylan said, “The times they are a changin’.” And they are. Many of the institutions we have clung to for so long, including the traditional concept of marriage, are changing. And quickly. I feel grateful that I’m at a place in my life where I have total freedom and can take responsibility for every relationship I choose to be in.
I admit I’m still the little girl who believes in happily ever after, but I’m aware how that must start with happiness from within instead of looking for something out there to “complete me.”
If I can take anything from the brilliance of Marianne Williamson’s lecture “Relationships and Spiritual Adulthood”, it relates to this one line: “It is our job to affirm a person.” She explains, “It’s not our job to change a person. It is our job to celebrate a person. It’s not our job to imprison a person. It is our job to free a person.”
I see a bright and hope filled future in this. The more I do my own spiritual work, I can only draw closer those who are doing theirs as well. Somehow in my own seeking, I continue to trust I will be found.
We all deserve to be seen and loved for who we are, not a media ideal we will never attain. It is our individual responsibility to continue to explore and reveal who we are both as individuals and as a species. This will be the key to attracting the other who themselves is doing the very same work. As the Beatles said, “All you need is love.” Sound too simple? We all deserve to give and receive love. In many ways I believe it is that simple if we allow it to be.
So, let me ask you, what have you found makes a good relationship? Okay, dare I take this up a notch… What makes a great relationship?
Please visit me at: www.beverleygolden.com
Originally published November 2011
A little over a month ago, the hearing in my left ear went, literally overnight. Fortunately, I hear in the right ear and so am not completely deaf. Nevertheless, it feels strange and disorienting. The partial deafness is nudging me to listen inwardly.
What is this condition? How did it come about? And more importantly, how can I restore my hearing? Even more importantly, what can I learn from it? What are the blessings in disguise? Those blessings I am finding come daily, in many shapes, forms and sizes.
Whatever you lose in the course of your life, there is something to gain. You may go through a period of "darkness," and at a certain moment, you may be able to see "light at the end of the tunnel." A breakthrough occurs. You emerge once again into the light of a new day with fresh opportunity and a life, probably previously unimagined and possibly better than you knew before.
The restorative nature within you has a way of bringing you light, even within the darkness of deep loss. The tunnel of loss is confining. Necessarily so. Its purpose is to contain you within the intimate confines of your inner world where healing can take place. You may be alone, but you do not need to feel lonely. This can be a time of personal enriching, preparation for another phase of your life.
The passage towards a new life experience may include euphoria, denial, emotional disorientation and finally a gradual accommodation of the change that has taken place. Physically, we have been constructed to move forward. Our limbs are articulated so that we move more easily ahead. We have eyes in the front of our heads. If we were meant to live in the past, we might have eyes in the backs of our heads.
If you think of the word "light," you have the meanings of both levity and and clarity. The light is always within us. We can switch it on to shed light on whatever darkness we may encounter.
1. Turn on the Light of acceptance
This light means no resistance or fighting or wishing that things were different than they are. Acceptance is neutral, open and willing to cooperate with the situation, just as it is.
To heal from the inside out is the key.
2. Turn on the Light of the present moment, right now
This light is easy. Take in a deep breath. Breathe in the present. Sometimes, I find that lying down stretched out for maybe only a few minutes helps me to come into the present moment, and what it is I need and want to do next.
3. Turn on the Light of surrender
Be willing not to know or have all the answers you want, right away. Imagine you are standing in a column of light, with just enough light to see to take one step forward, no more. In a period of change, the picture is a constantly evolving one. Each moment may offer you a fresh suggestion or perception. Receive it.
If you are a person who likes to feel in control, you may feel uncomfortable — until you can learn to let go, cooperate and flow with what presents itself to you.
Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you — all of the expectations, all of the beliefs — and becoming who you are.
Rachel Naomi Remen
4. Turn on the Light of understanding
Think of this light as one of standing in support of yourself, literally "standing under" with a solid foundation of honouring your basic needs: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Be willing to explore and discover how you can best support yourself in the present circumstances. Ask, and be open to receive what you need.
Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.
5. Turn on the Light of awareness
What a precious gift awareness is! That "ah ha" moment when you just know. The truth dawns, not for all time but perhaps just for that insight you were seeking.
6. Turn on the Light of connection
And after awareness, connection. You are never alone. As you connect with the love of your inner spirit, so you are connected with all life forms in the world around you. With this connection comes a peace and reassurance. Love is the connector. All is well.
Eventually you will come to understand that love heals everything,
and love is all there is.
7. Turn on the Light of humour, joy and laughter
Norman Cousins’ Anatomy of an Illness tells how he prescribed humour and laughter to reverse the negative diagnosis of his life-threatening illness. Choose to be with people who are light of touch, seeing the funny side of life, enjoying simple things.
Humor is healing.?
8. Turn on the Light of forgiving
Become one who is for-giving — toward yourself, your disappointments, doubts and fears. Toward others who may have hurt or been critical towards you.
Forgiveness means giving up all hope of a better past.
9. Turn on the Light of loving
Think of loving as kindness and compassion. We all need it from time to time. Give a thought of kindness and compassion for others. Bathe and bless yourself in kindness and compassion as you evolve towards a healthier, happier you.
Love one another and help others to rise to the higher levels,
simply by pouring out love.
Love is infectious and the greatest healing energy.
10. Turn on the Light of gratitude
Gratitude could be the first and only light to switch on. The attitude of gratitude is pure magic in the process of healing. It allows for an openness, relaxation and receptivity in which your powers of healing and restoration can get to work.
Your life is a gift.
In each day, find your gratitude. Right where you are, find your gratitude. Finding gratitude is going to open you up so whatever would serve you will come to you, whether it’s a cure, a spontaneous healing or anything else you need.
Goodness is what you deserve. It is your heritage.
This moment, what you are most grateful for? Who touches your heart most deeply? Who or what could you forgive to bring yourself greater freedom?
Please feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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