Sunday, November 17, 2019

Both separate and connected

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 lovers and friends, listen to the way they are making sense of their experience, attune to what they are feeling, and hold them during difficult times. To take the risk to allow them to matter and share our vulnerability, prioritizing connection and its value in our lives.

It is also essential 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, emphasize our own personal integrity, and allow the other to struggle with feelings of aloneness, uncertainty, and confusion.

At times we will disappoint those we love, and this will activate our historic core vulnerabilities. For many of us, disappointing another is not okay. It’s just not safe. The consequences could be devastating. There is an urgent impulse to do whatever possible to prevent the shattering of their heart and the achy confrontation with their own unlived life. But we must see if this is really the activity of love or if it is something else. To allow the other to meet the reality of their own heart is an act of profound mercy and compassion.

While from a transpersonal perspective, we can speak about unity and oneness, within the relative we are also distinct, each with our own unique histories and ways of organizing our experience. Each with our own fate and relationship with the divine. With our own path to travel. 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, looping, and unproductive conflict – unleashing unmetabolized shadow 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.

Photo by Manfred Richter

Our annual spring retreat will take place April 22-27, 2020 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, with myself and Jeff Foster. Please stay tuned to our websites, Facebook pages, and this blog for additional information. Tickets will go on sale on January 1. 

My online community, co-facilitated with Jeff Foster - Befriending Yourself: Meditative, Nondual, and Depth Psychological Perspectives - is currently closed to new members. To learn about the program and put your name on the mailing list for future re-opens, please visit the site here

My most recent book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is available in both paperback and Kindle editions. 

My next book, A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times, will be published by Sounds True in 2020.