Relationship as Spiritual Practice Part 3

It’s easier than you think.

5. The taking of vows: In a transformative relationship, there is a lot of change. Each individual changes over time, and the needs of the relationship change. Take time to exchange vows that keep you up to date and current as to what you are committed to in your ever-evolving relationship. When we are engaged in creating a relationship in a brand new form, it is tremendously supportive of the new relationship to make a new set of sacred vows. To create a private ritual, or a ritual in which family and friends may be invited to bear witness, assists the process of bringing the new form into being. Since we are always changing, and our partner is ever changing, our relationship is in flux.

To actually declare what we are committed to in the evolving relationship, takes on clarity and strength. To speak our heart’s song aloud brings focus and power to our intention, and our heart fills to hear the sacred vows of our partner.

Recommitment vows are in many ways deeper vows than the original ones that we made, as we were choosing into the earlier relationship with more illusion the first time. This round, we know more about who we are and more about who our partner is, and are willing to commit. As we mature and develop, the nature of the vows takes on a different flavor. The conscious vows are creating a soul contract, one in which we pledge to allow our contract to be a giant search light beamed right into the places that we need to develop. The soul contract has clauses like: “I want to open more, I want to experience more, I want to understand more, I want to find the truth, I want to serve more, I need your help to do this. Assist me and I will assist you.”

6.Talking meditation is a communication that is slowed down from the rapid pace with which we normally speak. It is honoring to those that we speak with to take time to deeply listen and to deeply consider their offering before we respond. Pausing more, turning attention inward before sending a message and again looking inside after receiving one. Contemplative talking has an especially strong appeal for those extroverts, who will be relieved to know that we can move toward a more conscious state of being without a steady diet of silence.

The way in which many couples speak to each other is while they are doing something else, emptying the dishwasher, doing the dishes, watching TV, or being glued to the laptop or tablet. To make the commitment to be fully present when speaking to the significant people in our life, is both a great healing to the relationship as well as rigorous discipline in our spiritual practice.

Because such an important part of relationship is communication, to bring a sense of the sacred to our speaking is essential. To slow down the rate at which we speak, and to listen deeply is a sacred practice. For so many people, an area of great distress is that they do not feel that they are heard. To deeply receive the communication of the other, and to practice holding their communication inside our heart, and then responding, allows other to know that their thoughts and feelings are important to us, important enough to give our full attention.

When we take on the practice of talking meditation, it calls forth a much higher level of responsibility from us. For now we are called upon to speak with each other wit the deepest respect and care such as that recommended by the Buddha:

In due season will I speak, not out of season.

            In truth will I speak, not in falsehood.

            For his (her) benefit will I speak, not harshly.

            In kindness will I speak, not in anger.

7. Mindfullness is paying close attention in every moment. It’s showing up and paying attention and to be fully present moment-to-moment on a daily basis. To bring our consciousness up to a higher level allows for more freedom. Mindfulness is non-judgmental awareness. One of our mediation teachers says: “Every moment of awareness is a moment of deconditioning.” In coming into a conspiracy with our partner to awaken and to assist in their process of awakening, is a sacred practice that can take us quite far on our path. By focusing our attention to the workings of our relationship, we uncover the family patterns, gender conditioning, and cultural conditioning.

Our committed partnerships have a built in mechanism to help us stay awake, and to be present in the moment. When we go on automatic pilot, we are likely to neglect and hurt the other. The tilt light goes on and the buzzers go off in the form of the relationship not working and we end up feeling awful. There is an immediate alert that we need to put in some sort of correction right away.

We can see the force of momentum of our old conditioning. In this way we can shed old dysfunctional patterns. In our growing awareness, we become empowered to make choices that work for us, rather to be helpless victims of the old conditioning. Mindfulness makes life exceedingly interesting, and it is out of the deeply loving connection that we open to the ordinary magic of life.

8. The Sacred Dance of Love and Freedom is the practice of coming close to bond and connect in an intimate way, and then letting go to individuate, be a unique individual, and to practice non-attachment. It is the dance of coming close to each other in great love, and then separating to be the two unique individuals that we are, also in great love. Some of us are quite accomplished in the close steps of the dance, others at the separation steps; it is the most sacred dance when we dance both parts gracefully.

When we dance together, we learn the steps that our partner is accomplished in. In the dance, we let down our boundaries and barriers to deep intimacy. It is in the exquisite connection that we experience oneness. As essential as the merger, is the letting go to come into the sacredness of our individuality. For the relationship to be a strong and healthy one, we need to be a separate individual, to connect deeply with our own individual truth, to know who we are, and to live in such a way that our truth is reflected in our life.

No less important than the individuality, is letting go of our preoccupation with ourselves, to know our partner, their values, their needs, their desires, and their truth, to be able to join them in their way of dancing. Developing our healthy dependency needs, we take turns being the strong and sturdy one, then letting go to rest into the other’s care.

In the closeness phase of the dance, we take refuge in each other. In the separate part of the dance, we are launched into the world with a great zest for life. Al Carmines says it such a lovely and poetic way when he states: “The most pernicious myth about love is the image of love as a closed system between two people. The sweet intimacy of love inevitably turns rancid when it circles in upon itself and is not open to the world. For love is a prism through which one sees the whole world. Every intimacy and every sweetness of love makes the whole world different and opens one up to the world’s reality rather than protecting one from it.”

Stay tuned for more sacred practices in Part 3

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Shared by: Linda Bloom, LCSW, & Charlie Bloom, MSW, Contributing Bloggers

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