Many people suffer from relationship senility. The mind has become utterly fatigued from trying. Self-protection and an unwillingness to go further (resistance) have left us confused, insisting we understand. Many are burned-out and disheartened. The wounds of the past have scarified the heart. The mind has cramped closed. The body atrophied in hard-bellied distrust. But the feeling of loss, and being lost, eventually gets our attention and we see that no one can make us happy but us. And we begin to take responsibility.
We begin to build the capacity to respond instead of react. And we focus on our resistance and recognize that relationship is work on ourselves. Taking what a friend calls “the whole catastrophe of relationship” into your merciful heart and investigative mind so the next one will not be a repeat of the last one. And we commit to “a living dyad, ”a consecrated relationship, a relationship to consciousness that recognizes the power of a conscious relationship. And work on ourselves, together.
In the boneyard of all our previously unsuccessful relationships—from which we increasingly learned to successfully relate—we were working on that other person. Despising them for not becoming what we hated ourselves for not being. Persecuting them and ourselves in the shadow of our unresolved grief. But eventually we stop attempting to create, and simply allow, relationship.
We begin to sense the possibilities and opportunities missed in the moments we closed our heart to another’s pain, moments when it was more important to be “right” than heartful. Moments of unintegrated grief expressed in tones too loud for love. Recognizing that unclear intentions produce unsatisfactory results, we explore the painful recurrence of unforgiveness and resentment. The unfinished business, the passive aggression and aggressive passivity that continually define the separateness between I and other—the fears of our threatened self-image. The constant displacement of the present by the shadows of the past. The need to be wanted, grinding against the want to be needless. Conflict. Power games. The unwillingness to surrender.
Exploring the charnel ground of relationships we felt did not “work,” we awaken as if from a recurrent dream, and relationship becomes what Buddha referred to as “the work to be done. ”It means letting go at our edge. Moving out of safe territory into the unexplored and often deeply resisted. It means making a love greater than even our fear of revealing ourselves as unloved and unlovely. A love greater than our fear of pain. When one commits to practices that clear the mind and expose the heart—such as mindfulness, forgiveness and loving kindness—what once seemed unworkable may well become the very center of the relationship. In those moments when the least movement is possible, the least resolution of our grief, the most minuscule movement is rewarded for its enormous effort.
Our intention itself has considerable healing potential. The very willingness not to suffer or cause pain to another becomes the expanse in which healing and peace occur. The open space into which our loved one may let go. Making room in our heart for our own pain, we make room in our heart for theirs. And our process toward the Beloved becomes a reminder that we are all in this boat together."
An excerpt of the book
Embracing the Beloved: Relationship as a Path of Awakening
Stephen and Ondrea Levine devoted many years to investigating the mind/body relationship, particularly as it relates to the states healing, dying, and grieving. Their work has affected healing and medical practices worldwide. In Embracing the Beloved, the Levines turn their attention to what has been "our most significant spiritual commitment —our own relationship.
In this groundbreaking book, they demonstrate how to use a relationship as a means for profound inner growth and healing. Their insights and anecdotes will benefit all who are drawn to looking inward, and all who seek a relationship as a path for spiritual renewal and merciful awareness of life.
During my pregnancy, my midwives lent me a book that suggested parents-to-be engage with birth art...
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