Awareness in Relationship
It was 10 o’clock at night. I was lying in my bunk reviewing the day’s photos on my digital camera. I had walked 30km that day and was relieved to have reached Lyon. I was about 22 days into walking the Camino de Santiago. This was October 2011. I didn’t have a lot of photos of me on the Camino and that day I had asked some other pilgrims to take one of me at lunch. As I retrieved that photo, I began to search the detail of my face, upon which I spontaneously burst into tears. I stifled my sobs as I was sharing a dormitory with 30 other pilgrims.
Something touched me deep to my core. I later observed that I had possibly seen myself as God sees me – pure love! This moment of awe was life transforming. As the days and weeks passed I realised that I had become very comfortable in my own skin. I had never felt like this. I had spent my whole life relying on other people to make me comfortable, particularly the people I chose to be with in relationship. I also noticed that I was less inclined to use food as a means of filling those gaps that emerged when I was feeling the need for comfort.
My emerging loving relationship with myself was the beginning of being able to be truly aware in a loving relationship with another. Suddenly the concept of love that was taught by Jesus began to make sense. When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, ‘To love God.’ He then went on to say, ‘And the second is like it, love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ It would seem that this notion of self love is intrinsic to being able to love another, even God.
I remark that this was the beginning, because the Dark Night of the Soul sits between that moment of awakening and being in the place of sustainable mindfulness and awareness. Essentially, the Dark Night of the Soul is the recalibration of desires and values that are inspired by our deep wound of being loveless/unloveable, to desires and values that result in stillness. The former is expressed through what we want and what we need (an inward looking). The latter is expressed through the opportunities we find to serve (an outward looking).
What this all means is that in the place of feeling loveless/unloveable, we go searching for a relationship that will somehow ease the pain and suffering of that belief. We look to find someone who is going to give us the love that we can’t find in ourselves. And since we don’t know what unconditional love looks like we generally use the only reference points that we have, love models from our programming. This typically sees us being in relationship with our parent, although in some cases we choose the anti-parent as an act of rebellion without realising that it is still a parental relationship.
This approach to relationship sees us recreating the dynamics that we have been exposed to all of our lives. And of course, getting the same outcomes that we have witnessed. In the past, if a marriage appeared to be successful, it generally indicated that someone had forfeited their life to please the other person. That was typically women, and it worked until women were no longer subservient. Having found their ‘rights’ to a life meant that ‘happy ever after’ wasn’t found in the old model. The result has been more women living independently. So the question goes begging, is there a relationship where both people are equally empowered, equally fulfilled and typically experience joy, peace and engaged intimacy?
Let me paint a picture of what that might look like.
Firstly, both people would be clear about their individual purpose and would be committed to the same. Their purpose would in fact take priority over the relationship. This is because your purpose is your Divine calling and that is paramount. You will have committed your resources of time, talent and wealth to fulfilling that purpose. There would be a balance of course, and that is why the person you choose to go into relationship with is best to have a parallel purpose. The purpose of each is a reflection of their personal gifts and abilities, but as I expressed in the last blog, they would be both looking outward, in a similar direction.
Secondly, they would both have peace/stillness as their priority. This is the direct result of living an aware life, a life of mindfulness, free of the limiting aspects of their story, which in one form or another is about being loveless and unloveable. Living life on purpose, arises from seeing the gifts in your story. Having that clarity and freedom naturally results in stillness. And stillness enhances awareness, which results in empathy and compassion both for oneself and for others. It is from this consciousness that the desire to serve arises. This means that both people carry a feeling of worth and fulfilment, and instead of relying on each other for that, it arises from their role in service.
The flow-on effect is that if you have established peace and stillness as your priority, then forgiveness is your primary function. Fundamental to this expression of forgiveness is the understanding that people only come from two motives, they are either extending love, or giving a call for help. This means that any emotion that isn’t centred in love, i.e. anger, fear, worry etc, is a call for help. This form of forgiveness also has you ask this question, ‘What could this person tell me that would help me understand why they are the way they are?’
An approach to a relationship that is based on forgiveness automatically eliminates judgement. Judgement is the main cause for a disruptive relationship. All judgement relies on personal filters, the imperfect thoughts and vain opinions that moulds the way we see the world and the people in it. It is these perceptions that take you out of being aware and being the observer. The moment you give a meaning to an observation, it’s all about you and your story, your limiting belief of being loveless/unloveable.
Which brings me to the fourth element. Self-love. This is that state of consciousness where you are aware of your true worth, your true divine nature. This is the natural consequence of living a life in stillness. The Psalmist wrote, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ I believe it was John in his gospel who wrote, ‘God is love.’ This could be rewritten as, ‘Be still, and know that I am love.’ Coming to that place of knowing arises from stillness. When you can turn up in a relationship with the understanding that you are love/loveable, then you have nothing that you ask of another. With this consciousness of love, a relationship is genuinely unconditional.
Let me finish by describing how this plays out.
There would be nothing to hide. So communication would be vulnerable, thoughts and feelings would be freely expressed and heard without judgement. That is because there is total trust. There would be nurturing touch, expressed in a variety of ways, but it would be a constant. There would be respectful sexual intimacy, an engagement that explores more mutually fulfilling ways for expressing oneself sexually. There would be more ‘dates’, more time being with each other where quality time would be playful, still and awe filled, to name a few. Each person would be committed to ‘catching’ the other person ‘doing it right’ instead of the opposite. There would be time apart, time to be self-nurturing, time to engage your purpose. Above all, there would be gratitude.
It this possible? Yes it is! Fundamental to it being a reality is enhanced awareness and mindfulness.