Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The beloved arrives as an electrifying mirror

Why is intimate relationship such an alchemical vessel for growth, healing, and transformation? One of the reasons is that in intimate relationship there is nowhere to hide. All of our early trauma and wounding arose in an interpersonal context and must likewise be unwound within a relational field. If we have a partner who knows our early history, who is intimately familiar with our core vulnerabilities, and is compassionately attuned to its unfolding and illumination, we are in an interesting predicament: On the one hand, this partner has appeared as a guide from beyond, as a mirror into our own hearts. What a precious situation.  

On the other hand, we have entered the realm of the terrifying and the unknown. It is vast here, but there is no ground; we are being held, but it is a holding that is unbearably vulnerable and without history. We stand totally unclothed in their presence, unable to fool them like we fool so many others, unable to pretend we’re running around in some mythic awakened reality, safe and secure and tucked away from the uncontrollable burning fires of intimacy and its revelations. The beloved sees all, but is this what we really want? This is not the almighty guru from afar, or the friends and spiritual brothers and sisters that know us only in context. Something more electrifying has come onto the scene. And it seeks to re-order *everything*. 

The beloved appears as grace, but it is not always a sweet grace, or a grace that supports egoic process or our spiritual identity-accomplishment projects and fantasies; at times it is unrelenting, uncompromising, and fierce; for it is the grace that reveals the deepest mysteries and qualities of your own heart. It is the grace that your cells and DNA are made of; yes, it is that intimate. Love has appeared in the form of this beloved not to provide certainty, comfort, safety, and awakening fantasies of a life of invulnerability. Fortunately, though, this was not what you were after anyway; for you are being called to something much more majestic, much wilder, much more creative. It can be incredibly anxiety-provoking to realize you will never have a day off again, there will be no more retreats, no more vacations, no more hiding out in the transcendent: for the beloved has come and she wants to show you something… everything. 


  1. For 3 years I've been in an intimate relationship like that with my lover and it has been extremely difficult. In your opinion does a lover come along like this for you to learn your lessons and then they move out of your life, or is this life partnership material?

    1. A few of you have written today to ask how to know when it is time to leave a relationship, or whether you are being called to stay, to engage, and to burn; you want to ensure that you’re not habitually turning from that which is unresolved within you, while at the same time honoring the possible truth that it is in fact time to move on. This is such a fragile sort of inquiry, in my experience, and takes real courage to look at carefully. I really appreciate how much you care. Because I do not know the details of most of your situations, let me respond more generally here, in as honest as way as I can: I really don’t know. These inquiries you are raising are some of the most mysterious and subtle in the area of intimate relationship, healing, and couple therapy and, in my experience, just serve to expose the wide-open, groundless dimension of intimacy itself, and remind us that it has not come into our lives to provide surety, certainty, and answers. In sum, you want to know: Am I fleeing out of a habitual need to escape from having to feel those feelings I just don’t want to feel, or has the karma truly run out; has the opportunity of intimacy simply burned away?

      I wish I had an easy answer for you, my friends, as to whether these particular lovers have come to provide those very core lessons that your heart longs for, or whether the core lesson itself is for you to move away. What I can say, though, with some certainty and experience, is that transitions like these (true death-rebirth experiences for many) require a radical sort of willingness for you to be immensely kind to yourself, and to your partner, and to the field between you – to meet whatever surging feeling or emotion arises in a field of kindness. This does not mean subjecting yourself to abuse or aggression and so forth, but to be willing to receive and to hold the difficult feelings and emotions as they arise in your body. There is clearly a somatic process which is unraveling here and your body and your heart are pleading with you to stay embodied, to stay in the experiential intensity. Somehow, you are being asked to resist the temptation to heal these feelings, transform them, or subject them to your spiritual processes; perhaps there will be a time later to do this. But for now, to somehow cultivate enough caring to stay very experience-close, to stay intimate with your immediate embodied experience as it presents itself. And the only way you could ever do this is through kindness, a kindness that perhaps you have never, ever known. Everything that is arising is valid; all is a pathway of intelligence and creativity, set in motion to reveal to you something important. You need not reject any of it, for your embodied experience is sacred. It is made of the stars and of all of the gods and goddesses that have ever been and ever will be. Please honor it. Love does not need you to heal it, transform it, change it, or transcend it.

      To be continued...

    2. In my experience, it is only through such a holding environment of kindness and a real embodied willingness to sit in the fires of intimacy’s paradox, knowing that there may not likely be a satisfactory answer, that guidance will arrive. For love it seems (fortunately or not) was not designed to provide us with surety, certainty, and ground. Of course, in situations where there is real abuse occurring, the advice is much easier: leave. Though I don’t know you and your situations, I can say that you are not alone with these questions, and I can really feel you. In my experience, the real energy, the real clarity, the real wisdom, is in the questions themselves; not in the answers. Practically speaking, one thing you could do (that I would highly recommend) is to find a couple therapist that you really trust and can help you to create a holding environment in which you can really get to the heart of things, and feel deeply into what it is you truly want; what you really, really want more than anything. And to presence your partner as he or she takes this same journey, with you as their witness, holding their subjective experience as deeply and in as attuned a way as possible (please don’t shame yourself for not being perfect here; and please don’t assume that you aren’t shaming yourself in some way).

      When all is said and done, this person may be your life partner, or they may be the vehicle through which you are to see that now it is time for you to be alone, for the next part of your journey. And what an amazing life partner to help you to see that, if that is in fact what occurs.

      Above all, please be kind to yourself and your partner as the journey of intimacy demands everything, and much much more; it will inevitably bring roaring to the surface *everything* that is unresolved within you, and that is its gift. Yes, it requires everything, it offers even more.