Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Releasing the burden from our spiritualities and intimate partners

There is a tendency to look to our intimate and love relationships to make us feel better – as if this was their primary purpose. This of course is an old template that lives within us from the earliest hours, days, weeks, and months of our lives; when we intelligently looked to our caregivers to metabolize our emotional experience for us, to empathically attune to our developing nervous systems, and to hold and contain the wide-open vulnerability found inside our little hearts.

We can also start to see how we can subtly use our relationship with spirituality in this same way, to make us feel better. It is so natural, really, from a developmental perspective, to look to intimate relationship and spiritual practice to provide us with those thoughts, feelings, emotions, and states of consciousness which we so long for, which are safe, which feel nice, while simultaneously hoping they will remove from our experience those others which we just do not want to feel – which point to the uncertain, unknown, groundless dimension of love and its movement. There's just too much exposure there, we’re too naked, and there's very little room here for the confirmation of our personal identity project.

But is this the ultimate purpose of our intimate relationships – or for any sort of spiritual or transformational path? We so badly want to feel better about ourselves, about our lives – to somehow make contact with this deeply rooted belief and fear that we are ultimately unlovable, unworthy of love; that we’re not fully okay as we are. Deep within, under our stories of spirituality, intimacy, and awakening, we may find a life-or-death need for the other to confirm us – whether that other be our intimate partner, our guru, our parents, our children, or our friends on the path. Am I awakened? Do you love me? How do I need to change so that you will see that I am special and worthy? Really, I’ll believe *anything*. I’ll do anything to be seen, to be held, to be validated, to be recognized, to be confirmed – just let me know what I need to do. Please help me heal the wound of unlove.

In my conversations with many of you over these last few months, we have seen a lot of this together; how we’ve subtly and unconsciously asked our intimate partners, our love relationships, and our spiritualities to make us feel better, to feel safe, to provide some solid resting place. What a gift to be able to see this, despite the shame, the vulnerability, the anger, and the frustration that can accompany such insight. We’ve seen that holding these realizations in an enormous space of lovingkindness provides the fuel and the courage we need to keep moving forward, to not become caught up in self-denigration, self-hatred, and other ways of being aggressive toward our lived experience. We can even see that these defensive strategies and developmental needs arose out of an intelligence, a creativity, a clarity when we were little, during a time when our precious nervous systems were not able to fully digest our experience, not quite able to fully metabolize the lack of empathic, attuned validation which inevitably occurred in our families of origin.

Friends, can we create a loving, holding environment in which we can see ourselves as we are? To engage with this gorgeous sensual reality as it is, setting aside our fables of awakening and specialness? Can we somehow make a commitment, that no matter what, we will be kind to ourselves – that we will stay close to our embodied immediate experience as it is? For it is only in such a loving space that healing can pour into and through our lives, out into the hearts of others, and only then can we see clearly what is truly driving and motivating us – both in our intimate love relationships and in our spirituality projects.

And in this holding environment – designed out of the cells of your very own heart, out of the light-strands of your most precious DNA - we can finally come to some rest, to allow love to lead the way, to take us on its journey. We start to see that who we are *is* love, and that we need not frenetically or desperately seek it from another or from our fantasies of awakening or from our dreams of intimacy and what these will give us. These pathways were never designed to make us feel better, to reinforce our specialness, or to somehow compensate for our wounds of unlove; they are much more precious than that. For they are doorways into the center of your heart, waiting patiently for you to trust yourself enough, to love yourself enough, to be kind enough to yourself, so that you can step through, and somehow allow love to have you, to have its way with you, revealing its mysteries in each and every moment of this life as it is. And then it is only love that will show you the way home.