One of the most important revelations I ever had about relationships is that the ones that tend to thrive understand the relationship as not just as something that is a product of the interaction between two people, but rather as a living entity unto itself. This distinction is everything, because when we perceive our relationship as a living thing with needs of its own, we have a way out of the persistent and damaging competition of whose needs are being met, and focus instead on meeting the needs of the relationship, which magically then creates the safety and space to meet all of the individual needs we bring to it.
Archive for the 'Sustainable Love' Category
It is always when we land on the last day that we realize any regular day has the potential to be the one that includes our last goodbye. Dogs are not only the most faithful and loyal of friends to us, but they are also our most gentle teachers about life’s cycle. Our beloved Rhodesian Ridgeback, Coco, has lived with us now for thirteen and a half years- a year and half longer than her life expectancy. Every day is a gift – and I have taken her on walks and kept her near me as much as I could with my ridiculous travel schedule. Each time I leave, teary, I tell her “Not yet, I will be right back.” And so, apparently, she has waited for me for this last goodbye.
Lelo, one of the largest vibrator manufacturers in the world is launching a feature film and guess what – it’s not about sex. Rather, the film depicts a world where men and women have come to live apart, in a futuristic apocalypse of relationships. The film points to the immediacy and urgency of re-learning the dying art of relationship. I am always encouraged when I get these kinds of messages in my inbox- diminishing the loneliness I sometimes feel in my quest to put our capacity for relating first. With Valentine’s Day around the corner and all of its collateral damage, there isn’t a better time to reflect on our ability and willingness to not only work on our relationships, but even more deeply, to figure out how to truly inhabit them.
Life needs you to love, to come home to your true loving self. It needs you to be open to all that you don’t know, it needs you to listen with the intent to deeply connect, it needs you to want to feel everything, it needs you to recognize at every moment this might be your last chance to get it right. Here are the ever-evolving tips that I work to live by every day in the quest to build a life made of love. Each seems deceptively simple at first glance, but they are each present advanced practices of both what love requires of us and how, if we are blessed, we are re-created in its form. Love is in you, all around you, inescapably holding you if we could just learn its ways.
Knowing why we act and what we are creating is everything. The clarity with which we begin any endeavor is not only the initial map we have to steer by, but even more deeply, aligns the mysterious and subconscious to achieve our intentions. A dear friend told me not long ago that “intention is everything” and to act without it is our current form of insanity. Rather than resolutions, which are usually a reaction to what we don’t want, think of guiding this New Year with true intention. To get you started, I offer up a few parameters, which may come in handy to measure your state of being.
“Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow - that’s vulnerability.” -Brene Brown
At the end of almost all relationships there are two roles, the one who is leaving and the one who is left. Optimally, yet I think more rarely, both people in a relationship are ready to move on and the leaving is mutual. I have noticed in my own life that for me, endings are almost always about being left. I don’t think I am unusual in finding myself habitually in the same role pattern. People who leave others tend to be the ones who leave. People who are left tend to be the ones who hang on. Each role is steeped in both our conscious values and unconscious adaptive emotional patterns.
It was the Celtic civilization that first celebrated the magical time of year that is Halloween. They considered this time, the Samhain, as the most significant turning point of the year, when things change most deeply, when connections to the dead open up… The souls that have gone through the ultimate turning from life to death. They believed that this was the time of year that the world of the living and the world of the dead were closest and that the spirits and ghosts of the dead travelled amongst the living. This conception of the closing gap between life and death in still widely celebrated in the Mexican Dia de los Muertos and even in the Christian All Saints Day. Taking this opportunity to celebrate the dead among us, to acknowledge the ghosts that remain behind and to befriend the demons that we embody are powerful and redemptive acts of love, both for the living and the dead, as what remains in hidden steals immense power from our living intentions.
We hurt ourselves by trying to defend ourselves against our own truth. The pain we refuse to feel collects in us and is stored in the places we are most shielded, which for most of us, is our hearts. We are so fearful of the potential of a broken heart that we inadvertently refuse to open our hearts for their intended use. This practice of shielding our hearts and denying our feelings can become such a deep and prolonged habit that we walk around encased in a shield that we don’t even know we are wearing. This explains why it is so rare and beautiful a thing – the meeting of two open hearts. It’s no good, this refusal of our own heart experience. The act of becoming numb to ourselves actually requires a lot of effort and explains our collective fixation on the wide range of drug and alcohol induced self-medicating. The pain in our collective breasts begins with what remains unseen in our hearts.
Read the rest of this entry »
What does sexual wellbeing mean to you? This is the question that the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) selected for its focus on the 2nd annual World Sexual Health Day this week on September 4th. More than 30 countries took part by creating events to recognize the need to articulate and understand the concept of sexual rights for all. This is no small thing, given that in most countries, the science of sexology does not exist and that, with the exception of a few Western nations, there is no collection or depository of sexual health data. Globally, we have not been willing or able to create a standardized terminology for the varied practices of sex. Unlike most other human-related scientific disciplines, our conception and understanding of our sexuality and related erotic selves remains in its infancy. When it comes to sexual behaviors, there is no collective data on legislation or its enforcement, the economic ramifications of sexual practices or even a shared global criteria for sexual counseling. It is truly something to celebrate that we have arrived at the 2nd anniversary of this day dedicated to raising global consciousness and I was proud to be included as a primary sponsor for the North American event in New York City.
One of my favorite talks that I listen to over and over again by Pema Chodron is her teaching about cultivating Bodichitta, which is another word for the ‘awakened heart.’ Her advice is that we have to start where we are, recognizing the love we have to give and, more importantly, the love we can receive in this present moment. In the talk, she empathizes about how many people share the common and painful experience of not being able to identify a single person that they felt loved them truly and unconditionally. This narrative of feeling unlovable is rampant in our time. Arguably, there are more people living lonely and disconnected lives than in any time in our history, which is ironic given the vast technological advances designed to connect us all.