Perhaps the reason that we create conflict is because being in the pure bliss of the present moment is far too intense to handle.
Even when things are tough, if we are able to fully surrender to that moment, releasing all resistance, there can be a feeling of awe and wonder.
The trouble is, that the usual automatic response is to resist any intense feeling, especially one that we have labeled as “bad.”
The resistance to feeling puts the clamp on the hose and causes even more suffering.
We have conflict for the same reason that we have fantasy, so that in the moment, we feel like we have control over the situation. Whether it is “worse” or “better” than reality is irrelevant. In fact, this attempt as control is normally just a habit—to keep one out of the bliss of the present moment.
The illusion of control is so insidious; if we think we know how things “are,” then we deceive ourselves into thinking we have a predictable outcome.
Unfortunately, this resistance to what is keeps us in the grip of the problem we are trying to avoid.
When we can be truly present, there are no conflicts. One of my mentors, Christian Mickelson, says that all fear is fear of feeling. I believe it is any feeling that is outside of one’s normal bandwidth. Every day we get opportunities to increase our bandwidth, or go outside of our comfort zone. When we do, an internal alarm sounds and we have two choices
1. Escape the present moment in conflict, fantasy or some other distraction
2. Breathe into the intensity of being alive. This is the one that expands our bandwidth.
An exercise to increase your bandwidth:
Look at yourself in the mirror. Look deeply into your own eyes and lose yourself for a few moments. If you can be present for a split second, that is a miracle. Now tell yourself that you love yourself. Allow for all of the resistance to this exercise to arise and notice it. There is no need to resist the resistance. Simply breathe and see how long you can handle it. Tomorrow, see if you can do it for a little linger.
In this Art of Relationship community, we often speak about the power of giving others the dignity of their own experience.
And now my wish is that you expand into doing that more and more for yourself.
Many people have voiced how upset they are with themselves that they aren’t “further down the path” or they aren’t “there yet.”
I ask them, “Where?”
It may sound trite, and we all know it intellectually, but many of us who are on a growth path get caught in the egoic trap of wanting to be more spiritually well-balanced or advanced than we really are.
Even worse is when that needy feeling turns into criticism and self-judgment. In extreme cases, it is used as evidence to rationalize self-hatred.
A friend in L.A. always says: We will never rise above human and we will all have moments that are unspiritual in nature.
So what do we do when we are in a valley of dark emotions, feeling overpowered by our shadow, or simply depressed?
The answer is simple, yet not always easy to employ: allow yourself the dignity of this experience.
You never know what part this is playing in your growth, how it will later serve you and make you more useful to god or her kids.
The yogic way is to go into the experience and then move on.
“Resistance is useless!” said the Borg, and they were right!
When we allow ourselves the full spectrum of emotion, then we can more deeply experience our humanity when things are going well, too.
Where are you resisting a part of you that you’d rather not experience? Can you open up and make friends with it, even just a little bit? Can you allow yourself to be perfectly imperfect exactly as you are?
Falling in love is wonderful. Hormones, things in common, hours and hours of talking and gazing into each other’s eyes are often the beginning of something bigger. The problem is, that after we fall quickly and deeply, when the hormones go back into balance and the things in common are less precious, we have the reality that love isn’t only romance and play and giddiness.
It is a good thing, too since nothing would ever get done! In the media, we see scenarios of two people falling into bed and then love and then…the rest of the story is seldom portrayed. When the euphoria fades then we get to decide, “Am I in or am I out?”
When we approach a relationship with the common good in mind, we are allowing the other person to be who they are rather than a fantasy of who we want them to be. All too often, we fall in love with the IDEA of a person. What that means is, we are in love with love or the projection of who we WANT that person to BE. This, of course is a recipe for disaster.
When we are in love with love, we jump with both feet into the deep end of the pool before ever knowing who the person is or if we are compatible. When we are stuck on an idea, we are blind to red flags and deal breakers that warn us to take heed. Later, we struggle trying to reconcile who the real person is with the image of them that we had. That struggle is miserable.
In those times when we have allowed our partner to be who they are and loved them where they are, we have an authentic relationship. With authentic relationships love is a decision rather than an emotion. This idea is quite radical and also very helpful.
When we are less concerned with the EMOTIONS of falling in love, we are less prone to acting selfishly because we are not feeding the impulse for immediate gratification. If we decide to go forth for the highest good, then all sorts of problems can be transcended.
Yogi Bhajan said that without COMMITMENT there is no HAPPINESS.
Making a decision cuts away all other options. The option to run is off the table. When you and your partner decide to commit to one another, it is sacred. You are calling on a force higher than ego, to your highest selves. Love relationships are very confronting. They are magical and are humbling, too. When we decide that we are IN, even more magic can happen. You are safe knowing that whatever happens, your relationship will last.
In our disposable/consumer culture, this is not easily adhered to. It is difficult to humble oneself to the larger purpose of the common good. And, ultimately, you will get something much more rewarding than immediate gratification. You will get peace and a depth of experience beyond measure.
Are you wavering in your relationship? What is most important: your ego or the health of your relationship. We all get bogged down with the need to be right from time to time. What can you do to remind yourself of your highest commitment?
Learn more about GLOBAL LOVE DAY here:
We can apply this idea to so many situations. If we are single and have been heartbroken, we can release the other person toward whatever path they are meant to go.
If we are in a relationship, we can stop being the boss of our partner! What this can look like is this:
We get a strong urge to fix or control our partner because they are “messing up.” One time, a friend of mine told me it was excruciating to watch her husband chopping peppers because of the way that he cut them. She had a good chuckle at herself, because it really didn’t matter; yet her ego was screaming to correct him.
Often we interfere when we ought to be minding our own business!
When I was accepted as one of twelve incoming students to my graduate program, I was very excited but needed some money to make it happen. I pursued one of only two fellowships and was awarded it. This award made it possible for me to pull up stakes in California and move to Chicago for school. As I later saw, I was neither the most ambitious nor the most talented student in my cohort.
Had I not received the fellowship, I likely would never have moved to Chicago and gone to that particular graduate school. It was in Chicago that I found meditation, which changed my life from one run by fear and selfishness to a life of serving others and pursuing truth. I started my search for happiness in love there and it was also in Chicago where I met my husband!
So while there were others in my cohort that seemed more deserving, the bigger picture was, I was meant to be in Chicago. It was there that my life changed in order for me to help people like you change their lives! Isn’t that amazing?!
Remembering this story, I can have compassion for people who are performing less than I think that they “should” because I rest in the knowledge that there is a bigger order at play and I do not know it. This does not mean that I have to get entangled with them or the games or drama that might be involved with them. It means I can have compassion for them from a distance!
Look for opportunities to allow others the dignity of their own experience. Where is your need for control thwarting the higher order? Where can you allow for something that you would do differently but may very well be in divine order?
One woman asked me, with a hint of desperation, “What are the top five tips that you give to couples?”
“Date Night is a MUST.”
“What, like once a month?”
Her face was one of shock. Yes, I know it is really hard find new balance after having a baby, especially the first child. Everything changes, however, it is truly important to create and maintain the habit of taking time out for just the two of you.
You can broaden your image of date night and start with where you are. In the beginning, it might look like a short living room floor picnic when baby is sleeping. It could be a walk while a neighbor or relative watches baby. For others, the opportunities are endless.
Taking the time to connect on your primary relationship has a HUGE return on investment. While it might seem inconvenient, it is like taking vitamins for your relationship. Avoiding closeness-time and coziness leads to having to take relationship aspirin. Wouldn’t you rather prevent the pain rather than treat it later?
Couples, movies are a distraction. Spend the time during date night to really connect and make an effort to hear each other very deeply
If you are single, create the space by having a determined time/day of the week when you go and have some FUN and connect with whatever it is that fills your tanks.
When you do things that are loving toward yourself, you are creating a habit of receiving love. Like attracts like. If love is flowing toward you (from you or your friends), then it will flow easier from a potential mate. And that mate will also be more loving toward himself or herself. LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE. Create the atmosphere of love and watch yourself become a love magnet!
I am conducting a class for loving and committed couples and want to be certain that I address your needs. Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sometimes we don't even realize what we want in a mate. Like we discussed in last week's article, we can start with what we don't want and look for attributes that are the opposite. To counter someone with a wandering eye, you may discover that you want LOYALTY or FOCUS. You may find that your DON'T WANT list is large and that you can't figure out what the opposites are. That is a good time to go to someone that you trust and ask them for their help in distinguishing the positive traits that can come from your list. I do this work at length and in depth with Singles. If you want more info, call or write me.
When I was single, I was very unclear what I wanted in a mate. I learned that someone being interested in me was not a high enough criterea for dating! In my uncertainty, I started with what I did not want in a mate and then I was able to look for the opposite. That was how the fog started to lift on who I wanted to be in my life! Simple but at the time, it was not at all obvious.
Q & A with Sarah
It’s the last Thursday of the month and that means, I answer one of YOUR questions.
Q: Dear Sarah, How do you create date nights on a budget that are still romantic and meaningful? KK, N.Y.
A: Date night is a must and sometimes time, money, and creativity shortages can try to convince us that it can be bypassed just this once. Here are some things that you can do to subvert the negative mind that tells you “it’s too much work,” “too expensive,” or “too mundane.”
Often on date night, Vj and I won’t spend a dime. Yes, we do like going to fancy dinners but the objective is to connect and that takes no money to do. Date night is one of the forums where we really enjoy expressing our creativity. One of our favorite things to do that costs nothing is to go on a car picnic! As we head into inclement weather, you can remember that this is always an option. If the weather is nice, the obvious outdoor picnic is super romantic, too.
One of us will whip up a yummy and easy recipe and put it in an insulated casserole dish that we got at the Indian imports grocery store. We also fill a large press pot that can hold a ton of hot water for tea. We have travel mugs and camping plates and utensils. We drive someplace with an amazing view (no shortage of views in Seattle!) and sit and serve each other and eat yummy food and connect.
We sometimes go for a drive to see a building, park, or neighborhood we have always wanted to see but haven’t yet. We take walks on University campuses because the grounds are beautiful. We really enjoy exploring new things or bringing a new perspective to the familiar.
Having date night fall on Thursday is really convenient for things like First Thursday free entrance to museums. Art walks often take place on Thursday night, too. You can get on the mailing list of just one art gallery in your area and be kept up to date on openings (free food and drinks and great art!).
I recommend taking down these ideas and others that may have inspired you and keep a date night journal. You can keep ideas in there to access on the day to make your plan. I also recommend taking turns planning. If you leave it up to, “What do you want to do?” “I don’t care, what do you want to do?” you can see how little energy that has. Try “I have a surprise date planned for you!” and see how that goes.
Good luck and tell me of your inspired date nights!