Someone built this sign and went to the trouble of transporting it to the middle of the Nevada desert for this year’s Burning Man. The message is an irrefutable truth meant to wake us up from our slumber and remind us that life is impermanent.
I lived in a spiritual community for close to 20 years of my adult life. Long enough to learn to view pretty much everything from the perspective of spirit. Spirit isn’t limited to the walls of a building or any one teaching, or any one teacher. Everything is spirit, we are spirit, and by virtue of that fact, everything we do in life is, in essence, spiritual. It’s from this perspective, that I see relationships as a spiritual practice.
What I mean by that is that I view relationship as one of life’s most profound schools of learning. This includes all of your important relationships, but particularly the one you share with your intimate partner (should you currently have one).
Intimate relationships test us like no other. They test our patience, our ability to forgive, our willingness to empathize, our capacity for compassion. They reflect us back to ourselves in sometimes the most unbearable light. Intimate relationships confront our imperfections and expose our human frailty.
Intimate relationships also offer us some of life’s most potent, fulfilling experiences like love, passion, trust, vulnerability, intimacy. The full spectrum of feelings are on the curriculum to be felt and learned from. It’s completely up to us whether we choose to enter into them as a student or not.
As a student of love, your practice is to welcome every experience in your relationship as your teacher, including your partner themselves. Whether your partner is challenging you or pleasing you, your partner’s actions are an opportunity for you to grow, as a human (and spiritual) being.
One of the common corner stones of all great spiritual traditions is mortality. Our pending death levels the playing field for every religious doctrine. We’re all going to die, regardless of what you believe in or who you pray to.
Accepting that fact, requires us to evaluate how we’re living our lives today, while we’re alive. What are our priorities? Are we happy? Are we living in love, or are we living in fear and self-protection? What’s ultimately important, in the face of our inevitable demise? Will today’s complaints, dramas, frustrations, irritations, matter at all in our final days?
It’s not a surprise that the vast majority of death-bed conversations are focused on the value of relationships. When all else falls away, we’re left with one thing, our thoughts and memories of those we have loved throughout our life.
The Buddha said “the path to freedom is the liberation of the heart, which is love.”
Under the umbrella of love is also kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and the caring for our wounds and the wounds of our partner – the imperfections that are often at the root of our conflicts and challenges.
How do we allow for imperfection in ourselves and our partner? We let our self-protected hearts be softened by our inevitable death, and the death of those we love. The answer is so simple, but that simple solution is at the core of every spiritual teaching – loving, with an open-heart in the face of life’s imperfections, and ultimately, mortality.
When we commit to live with an open heart, we do whatever it takes to keep it open. That looks different for every couple, but every couple has their unique path that leads them to an open-hearted love.
For some couples, the path to an open heart is found in finding forgiveness for past mistakes. For other’s it’s found in touch and sensuality. The path to an open heart may be found in a healing conversation, or remembering how to bring kindness to our partner through our words and actions. And realistically, for some, it’s letting a relationship go, also with an open heart.
Finding the path to an open heart is unique to every relationship, but that is the task at hand when we accept our role as a student, and recognize life’s imperfection as our teacher.
I’ve shared these thoughts with my readers before, because this is the irrefutable truth that can lift us up out of our limitations, and land us smack dab in life’s greatest lesson:
Death will insure you lose everyone you love.
Let that truth teach you how to love today.
Helping couples find their path to love and intimacy is one of my greatest joys. If you want to know how relationship coaching can help you along your path, set up a Discovery Call with me and let’s talk.
My female cousin was a primary contributor to my early sex education, when I needed it most. For instance she clarified that I couldn’t get pregnant by dancing with a boy, no matter how close we got. She also confirmed that I wasn’t the only person who touched themselves (down there), and most importantly, she showed me that ‘wellness massagers from Sears were used for things other than sore necks and shoulders. A few years later my boyfriend introduced me to the real deal. A vibrator made specifically for genital arousal. It was a cream colored, hard plastic, shapeless cylinder with a twisting on/off switch at the end.
This week a client told me she was doing a Marie Kondo on her closet. She was getting rid of what no longer gave her joy.
We went on to talk about her sex life with her partner and the nagging resistance she has to being touched.
Somewhere along the line she formed a belief system about touch. She couldn’t identify a particular incident that informed that belief system. There was no trauma or abuse. She just knew that when she was touched (even by her loving partner) her body would recoil and she’d shut down.
There’s no getting away from the fact that couples in long-term relationships impact each other profoundly, in small and large ways. If you’re a couple who live together there are moments throughout each day that bring you together to discuss something, to work on a task, to accomplish an errand, to share a story, or listen to one. Partners flow in and around each other with such symbiosis, that we can sometimes feel like we’re one mechanism with a shared mind.
Even in the midst of this unprecedented time, the holiday season is once again upon us. If you’re fortunate enough to have one or more loved ones around you, you’re probably giving and receiving a gift or two. I’d like to share a few thoughts I have on gifting.