Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Owning Our Complaints

In response to our suggestion that "The thing that we can’t accept about ourselves is the thing we complain about in the other," someone asked, "I never understood this. Can you explain please?"

The idea is this: We are all capable, even if only in a small way, of whatever we might complain about in someone else.

The other day we were driving on the freeway in heavy traffic. A car approached from behind, traveling faster than the rest of us. At the last second, he swerved around us, into the path of the car in the adjacent lane, sped up, and zoomed back into our lane.

"The guy's crazy!" I said.

Joe put his hand on mine and said quietly, "Maybe his wife's in labor and all he's thinking about is getting there as soon as possible."

Those words brought me instantly to the awareness that what I was complaining about in this stranger—aggressive driving—is something I, too, am entirely capable of, given the right conditions. And endangering others—including my daughter in the back seat—is something I'd like to believe I don't do! But the truth is, sometimes I do. And while going into complaint makes me tense, the awareness that "this could be me" makes me a much safer driver.

If you could recognize that you are fully capable of doing whatever it is you're complaining about someone else doing, you'll be much more likely to have compassion for them—and for yourself.

Monday, May 17, 2010

What Are You Committed to—Right Now?

Mark, a swim coach, was helping a young woman named Kristi learn to dive. She’d stand up on the starting blocks, nervous, worried that her goggles would come off or that she'd end up doing a belly flop. After every awkward splash into the pool, she’d pop up immediately, whirling around for his critique on just what went wrong.

After several minutes of this, Mark walked to the edge of the pool, looked Kristi in the eye, and said, “Look, you’ve just got to commit. Stop questioning yourself. Dive in and swim to the end!”

It worked. Kristi entered the water straight and clean, swam to the end of the lane, and came up with a smile on her face. She didn’t turn around looking to the coach for advice, because she knew she’d given it everything: full on, without hesitation.

Commitments have the power to carry us through our fears and toward our greatest accomplishments. Committing is an act of intention, of telling the world “I intend for this to work.” In a committed state, you’re better able to handle the unexpected, as you already have faith in the outcome.

In every aspect of our lives, including our relationships, the most powerful commitment is the one we’re making right now.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Must Soulmates Share the Same Values?

We were asked whether soulmates necessarily share all the same values. In a word, we believe the answer is no.

We are, of course, naturally drawn to people whose overall value system is similar to our own. If I believe that children will develop into their best selves if they are given a safe but wide-open space to explore in, it’s unlikely I’ll be drawn to someone who believes that the most important way to help children develop into successful adults is to shape them with well-defined guidelines and a firm hand. And vice versa!

These different approaches are simply two different systems of values, or beliefs, about how best to raise children. You will likely feel yourself aligned more with one than the other, based on your own values. In the most basic sense, what we call “values” are really just collections of ideas in which we’ve chosen to invest our belief. In other words, our values are collections of ideas that we believe are important. Once we understand that our beliefs—and thus our values—are choices we make (consciously or unconsciously), things become a little easier.

We each have our own life experiences that contribute greatly to our personal value systems. For example, although my partner and I may agree on the surface about what “respect” means—our definitions may sound quite similar—out in the world, all of our life experiences, our current situations, and our other desires and beliefs come into play and can make our day-to-day expressions of respect look quite different in many ways.

We get into trouble when we try to make someone else’s beliefs conform to our own. That’s because it’s practically impossible to force someone else to change their beliefs. And even if we do manage to get them to modify their behavior to line up better with our own beliefs, we’re going to have to deal with something that can be even tougher on a relationship than conflicting values: resentment.

For instance, suppose I hold the belief that my partner should show respect for me by not looking at other women when we’re out to dinner. When we go out, if he’s trying to abide by my wishes, he will try not to notice attractive females. He’ll still notice them; he’ll just try hard to pretend he doesn’t. This may make me feel more comfortable in the short term, but it may well introduce some level of resentment into our relationship that can be difficult and even devastating in the long run.

Now suppose that I am practicing being more flexible with my belief system, and that my partner and I are able to create a safe space to talk about such things. He might get me to understand that he loves me just as much when he’s looking at me as when he’s noticing the attractive woman who just walked by. In fact, he might feel even more love for me if we come to an understanding that I’d like to get to a place where he’s comfortable being human around me, something he’s never experienced with a significant other before! (Of course, to change my belief about this, I’ll have to look deeply into why I have that belief in the first place, and perhaps find ways to raise my own sense of self-worth—which can only have positive benefits for me!)

Now, is it always MY responsibility to adjust my belief systems, or values, rather than my partner’s responsibility? Well, no. But it’s the only real choice I have—besides either remaining frustrated with the way things are or leaving the relationship altogether.

We can’t change our partner, though we can be a catalyst for change through demonstration. If my partner sees that I’m able to change my belief about something to create a more harmonious experience for myself, he just might be willing to try it himself.

The more receptive we are to working with whatever shows up, and the more flexible we are with our beliefs, the greater the possibility there will be to connect on a soul level.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Relationship Yoga

In yoga, the idea is to tune into your body and become aware of where your edge is right now. Your edge is the place where you can feel that you’re opening up and becoming more flexible, but not where you’ve gone so far that you’re pushing into pain. Even if you’ve been practicing 65 years, in every position you can always find your edge. Your edge won’t be the same as it was yesterday, it won’t be the same tomorrow, and it’s not the same as that of the person next to you.

Once you’ve found your edge, you breathe into it. As you continue to breathe into and relax that area, you begin to open up from the inside.

To expand in your relationships, as in yoga, learn to play where your edge is right now. Trying to improve our relationships by approaching them from the outside involves compromise, negotiation, and even battles of will. By approaching them from the inside, we can stretch them slowly, expand them from the inside out.

The essence of transformation in yoga is the internal process through which the external is stretched and sculpted. So is the essence of transformation in relationship.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Does that “Connected Feeling” Always Fade with Time?

Cherie asks, “Why does it never last, that happy bond?” Many people say that the details of daily life get in the way. But we don’t think it’s “life” that gets between us and the experience of connecting on soul-deep level. “Life” was there when you met, after all! And when you were first dating and realizing that this is something special, you probably imagined that you could feel just as connected even while pursuing other things together—careers, a home, a family.

So if it’s not the details of daily life that begin to cloud the experience . . . what is it?

We believe it’s just two things: expectation and resentment. And the answer is even simpler than that, because these aren’t really two things, but just different manifestations of one thing: a thought that something should be different than it is. An expectation stems from a thought that there’s something someone else should do (or should not do). A resentment stems from a thought that there’s something someone else should have done (or should not have done).

The feeling of being connected does not have to fade with time. In fact, once we learn how to keep our relationship space free of expectations and resentments, we will discover that our experience of feeling connected actually grows stronger with time.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Opening to the Soulmate Experience

If you’ve read our previous posts, you’ve probably gathered that we believe the soulmate experience is available to everyone—and that we aren’t limited to experiencing it with just one other (nearly-impossible-to-find!) person on the planet.

Think back to the times you’ve felt like you were connecting with someone on a deeper level—with your lovers, your friends, your children, or even your parents. You may have even experienced it with a stranger—when you caught each other’s gaze and had a strong sense of connection. Try to call up and re-experience the feeling you had at those times.

To bring more of the soul-connection quality into your life, focus on becoming more aware of when you’re feeling this way. When you’re engaged with other people, tune into this feeling—to whatever extent you can sense it. It can be especially easy to access when you’re looking into another person’s eyes with a state of openness and nonjudgement. It’s especially enlightening to try this with total strangers and feel how true the proverb “the eyes are the windows to the soul” actually is.

Imagine what your life would be like if you could experience this quality of connection, to some degree, with almost everyone you meet.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

How Can You Tell If Someone Is a Soulmate?

Stella asks, “How can you tell if someone is a soulmate?” What’s wonderful about this question is that it’s infinitely more expansive than, “How can I tell if someone is MY soulmate?” It opens the door for so many possibilities. By searching for “a” soulmate rather than “your” (one and only) soulmate, finding what you desire becomes a much more likely proposition!

What Stella is really asking is, “How can you tell if someone has soulmate potential?” To answer that, let’s take a look at the soulmate experience.

Soulmates come together to explore, appreciate, and grow from every experience that shows up. They use everything as a vehicle for self-discovery and for enhancing their connection. Soulmates hold an intention to keep the magic in their relationship alive and do their best to encourage their relationship to flourish.

So, someone who has soulmate potential is someone who desires a deeply connected experience with another human being. Even more importantly, it’s someone who is committed to doing whatever it takes to truly open themselves up to the soulmate experience—which means having the willingness to see themselves clearly and to share themselves fully.

You can tell someone is a soulmate when you recognize these qualities in them. And if you have these qualities yourself, the soulmate experience becomes available to you.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What Does It Mean to “Be the One”?

Simply put, being the one is an approach to life and to relationships.

First, being the one is turning to yourself first so that you aren’t looking for someone to “complete” you, but to enhance you. It’s being consciously engaged in the process of living. It’s being activity involved in your own self-development: being ever more self-aware, self-expansive, and self-exploratory. It’s approaching other people and the world with receptivity.

Being the one is a willingness to be vulnerable, to share yourself, and to connect with others on intimate levels. Being the one is turning a tendency to say no into a tendency to say yes. It’s having a knack for seeing a higher possibility in every situation and knowing how to turn anything that happens into a vehicle for growth and self-discovery.

Being the one doesn’t mean you need to have super-high self-esteem, have resolved all of your issues, or be the perfect mate. Being the one is a process.

The soulmate experience is available to everyone. The more you cultivate the attitudes of a soulmate—the more you are the one—the more of that experience you will invite into your life. More than that: you’ll be able to recognize the potential for having highly connected soulmate-type experiences in others.

Move yourself to a higher level of consciousness, and that’s what you’ll attract.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cultivating the Soulmate Experience

Millions of people are scouring dating and social-networking sites with the hopes of meeting their true love: the one person on the planet with whom they will feel profoundly connected and completely fulfilled. They are, to put it simply, looking for The One.

Though many of us will likely feel this level of connection most deeply with one person—or perhaps, over our lifetimes, two or three—we all have the capacity to feel it to some degree with everyone in our lives. You’ve likely felt a soul connection to varying degrees with many people—such as your parents, your children, your close friends, or your lovers. You may have even experienced it with people you’ve just met—a profound sense that you were meant to know each other or are somehow connected on a deeper level.

If you’re looking for the relationship of a lifetime, intentionally cultivating the attitudes of a soulmate is the best way to invite the soulmate experience into your life. More than that: when you are being The One, rather than trying to find The One, you’ll naturally begin to recognize the soulmate potential in others.

When the soulmate potential emanates from you—all you have to do is turn around.