Thursday, June 5, 2008

yoga of relationship

I do my best to try to approach relationships as opportunities to learn and grow spiritually. I think people are often brought into our lives because of lessens we need to learn. The following was written by a favorite author and psychotherapist of mine, Tara Brach. She wrote the book Radical Acceptance, which truly came to me exactly when I needed it and definitely changed my life for the better. Here are some of her words on relationships from a recent article:

"John Schumacher, an internationally known teacher of Iyengar Yoga, points out that 'any deep connection with another naturally pushes us up against our edges.' Speaking of his own marriage as a fertile source of insight and inspiration, he says, 'Like a spiritual teacher, our partner knows us—knows when we're selfish, stuck, caught in feeling separate.' Schumacher notes that relationships, like asanas, require the willingness to remain present for the difficulties and challenges that inevitably arise. 'Discomfort and imbalance are flags that adjustment is needed.'

Just as being present with pain or discomfort in a yoga asana can release blockages and bring the body and mind into harmony, being fully present with uncomfortable conflicts that arise in a relationship can bring us back into harmony and communion with ourselves and our partner. Through what we might call the yoga of relationship, we discover our connectedness and realize the loving awareness that is our deepest nature.

When we enter into an intimate relationship, few of us escape visitations of insecurity and shame, of aversion and jealousy. Learning to bring an openhearted presence to these kinds of feelings, rather than reacting out of fear or hurt, is not easy. But when we are willing to stay put and pay attention at precisely the moments when we most want to lash out, cling tightly, or pull away, our relationship becomes a path of deep personal healing and spiritual transformation. As with any type of yoga, one of the blessings of the yoga of relationship is the profound inner freedom that comes from realizing the goodness and beauty of our essential Being.

When intense feelings of desire or aversion arise during the week, consider these as signs to stop and pay attention. It might be hard to remember at first, but if you clearly commit to pausing in this way, I can guarantee you it will make a difference.

Learning to pause is the first step toward transformation and healing. We pause by stopping what we're doing—we stop blaming, withdrawing, obsessing, distracting ourselves. In the space a pause creates, our natural awareness arises, allowing us to be mindful—to recognize what is happening inside us without judgment. By pausing, we begin to dismantle lifelong patterns of avoiding or distancing.

Simply asking ourselves, "What is happening inside me right now?" and "Can I accept this experience just as it is?"

I call this courageous kind of attention radical acceptance. It is a way of regarding whatever is happening within us with the two wings of awareness: mindfulness and compassion. With mindfulness, we see clearly what is going on inside us, and with compassion, we hold whatever we see with care. By bringing radical acceptance to our inner experience, we recognize and transform our own limiting stories and emotional reactions. We are freed to respond to our partner with creativity, wisdom, and kindness; we can choose love over being right or in control. Even if only one partner meets conflict with less defensiveness and a more accepting presence, the relational dance begins to change. In place of the familiar chain of reactivity, each person's vulnerability and goodness shine through."

If you would like to read this article in it's entirety go to:

Here is the yoga thought and intention for the day (from the bodhisattva's vow) that we can use to approach relationships:
"That all circumstances might serve the awakening of wisdom and compassion."


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