Friday, January 12, 2018

Oneness and separation in close personal relationships

In close personal relationships, it is important to emphasize a secure attachment bond and the co-regulation of challenging emotional states. To practice kindness toward our partners, care for their suffering, and hold them during difficult times. To allow them to matter, take a risk in leading with our vulnerability, and prioritize connection and its preciousness in our lives.

It is also important to be on the lookout for unhealthy fusion, honoring the reality that we are not only connected, but also separate. Any secure attachment must include healthy differentiation, where at times the most skillful activity will be to establish firm boundaries, assert our independence, disappoint our partners, allow them to struggle and confront feelings of aloneness, and to remove the burden we may have unconsciously placed on them to tend to the ghosts of our unlived lives.

While the concept of oneness is alluring and safe, true oneness does not exist without multiplicity, without a radical embrace of the chaos, contradiction, and darker revelations of love. The wise navigation of the opposites – staying within the complex and unresolvable tension between them – will reveal a portal into a new way.

Healthy intimacy is not the same as emotional fusion. Those called to relationship as path must make this discernment in the fire of their own direct experience, and stay committed to working with the chaos, contradiction, and aliveness of these energies as they arise.

While from a transpersonal perspective, we can speak about our oneness with all of life, within the relative we are also separate, each with our own unique histories, ways of organizing our experience, and distinctive core vulnerabilities. To dissolve these differences into some homogenized spiritual middle does not honor the sacredness of form.

If we do not consciously explore the reality of our separateness, it will inevitably express itself in less than conscious ways, in tangled and unproductive conflict, unleashing our unmetabolized shadows into the relational field. Like all work of depth, this art form evolves slowly, as it marinates and cooks in the alchemical vessel of the body.

May we be kind to our partners as we navigate this territory together, honoring the vehicle of intimacy as one of the most transformative, sacred, and challenging that we have in our modern world.

Art credit: Valentine Tree by the very gifted Alice Mason -

My new book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is now available 

My next event is a five-day retreat, The Place the Light Enters, with Jeff Foster, April 4-9 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO. Tickets went on sale on January 1st, 2018 and registration will be taken in the order it is received.