By Jacqueline Maria Longstaff
Commitment to the highest purpose of relationship and not to the two individuals can help achieve real spiritual awakening
I am surprised to find myself writing this. Years ago I offered courses on a relationship as a spiritual pathway and felt this work was now finished. However, I look around and see many people still spend much energy on a relationship and see they often end up in great emotional turmoil. I also see many who have the idea that if they are really interested in spiritual awakening they should no longer focus on relationships, and yet something keeps bringing them back into it.
So I decided to write a book about it and to again offer courses on this subject at the Ashram of the Singing Heart in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. My feeling was that if people want relationships then offer them a way to be at peace together in that relationship so that side by side they can focus on what is most important: real spiritual awakening.
I also know that as more people heal and live enlightened relationships, the understanding gained goes into the collective energy field and can be accessed by many more. Real healing of archetypal man and woman will take place. Everything we learn, every aspect of life we transform and bring to a higher level, ultimately contributes to the collective energy field and benefits the whole.
On a spiritual pathway, real commitment is needed, otherwise, people walk away soon once the ‘honeymoon’ is over and the challenges begin to present themselves. The same thing happens in relationships. At the ashram, I shall be offering to conduct marriage ceremonies where people commit to the marriage for a period of seven years. (Saturn cycles come in periods of seven years.) I say, “commit to the marriage” and do not say “commit to each other”. What I offer is a new understanding of commitment–a commitment to the highest purpose of the relationship and not to the personalities of the two individuals.
On a spiritual pathway, people often surrender to a guru and the highest potential of the relationship becomes the guru. The couple surrender to this guiding light that, like a true guru, can then take them beyond identification with the drama they find themselves into a place of real inner freedom.
I can already hear some people protesting and asking why to bother at all with the drama of relationships, protesting that the whole of the relative world is just an illusion, just a dream. Well, it is a dream that many still identify with so strongly that it is difficult for them to move beyond it. When one has awakened from identification with the dream it is then possible to again enter the dream and help people. As long as we are in the physical incarnation we will in some way be playing within the illusion.
I often encourage people to be aware of which parts of the illusion can bring them home. I am reminded of something said by my first guru, Osho. He said the master-disciple relationship was the final game and then added: “Play it as beautifully as possible.” He didn’t say do not play it! So let’s play the relationship game as beautifully as possible and with full awareness.
Why extramarital relationships
Many people in the West today are overstimulated and boredom in life often becomes an issue. One difficulty in relationships is that people often get bored with each other and embark upon what is called ‘extramarital affairs’. A so-called third party then seems to be the cause of the breakdown of the relationship, but really it had already broken down on a very deep, energetic level otherwise the affair would not have happened.
As I speak with younger people here in India I see they are beginning to experience similar difficulties as they adopt western customs to find more freedom in personal relationships and choice of partners. This work is by no means only for westerners! What I suggest to people is that they bring in a third party already very early in the relationship, and that third party is God or whatever you wish to call the absolute.
Some people talk about the soul or higher-self, etc. but normally I do not use these expressions. I cannot find a soul—I only sense the oneness. I, however, talk about surrender to what could be called the higher self of the relationship, the essential point, and teach couples to contact this point together. It is an energetic point that can be contacted by the couple just as individually we can contact chakra points within the subtle body. This point becomes the ‘guru.’ Remember that guru means ‘the dispeller of darkness’ and is actually a principle found deep within each heart–a principle often projected out onto a person. Contact with the deepest potential of the heart takes you beyond the illusion of separateness.
Nothing like a cold heart
The heart holds such a deep secret that is still waiting to be discovered by most people. Let me say one thing very clearly: There is no such thing as a closed heart. It is the heart’s nature to be open, to be in love and to embrace all and everything within that love. There’s no such thing as a cold heart or a hard heart—this is simply not the nature of the heart. It’s like talking about a flame that has no fire—impossible! A flame’s nature is fire. Yet what can happen in life is that, due to difficult circumstances and your inner reaction to them, you turn away from the heart.
You forget to visit it! Then it can feel as if the heart is closed and that love and compassion are far away. If you go to your heart at such difficult times you will begin to discover what the heart really has to teach you. It is never closed—it is always there waiting for your return. Please do not believe what I say here. Try for yourself so that you are really in touch with the secret of the heart.
A spiritual teacher I knew many years ago once said that most people were not in touch with the space inside where love is. He said most were in touch with a place from where love comes and goes and that when love began to go more than it came people moved on to another partner. Ultimately, my book, Relationship as a Spiritual Pathway is about love–pure, unconditional love–so much needed in the world today. It is about coming home to the space inside where love just is.
Excerpted from a forthcoming book, Relationship as a Spiritual Pathway, by Jacqueline Maria Longstaff, a Dane who runs the Ashram of the Singing Heart in Tiruvannamalai. She holds Satsang, meditation retreats and courses in a relationship as a spiritual pathway.
Relating with feeling
by Anita Anand
Madhu, in her early 40s, is divorced with two children and lives with her parents. She blames her father for forcing her into marriage with an abusive husband. Her relationship with her teenage children is difficult and while living under the same roof, she didn’t speak to her father for years. She has an intimate relationship with a man she knew before she was married—who is now married with children.
• Ameeta, in her late 20s, is single and lives at home. She has an unsatisfactory relationship with both parents and feels unloved and unwanted. With little interest in life, Ameeta feels she is unintelligent and has very little to look forward to. She has a boyfriend, who she actively communicates with and sees once a week.
• Mallika, in her mid-30s, is also single and lives at home. With a fairly long history of abuse, she feels betrayed by her father, who she feels did not protect her as a child and through her teenage years. She faced physical and mental violence from her mother and a boyfriend during a very difficult adolescent period. She has a difficult time in intimate relationships with men.
• Prem, in his late 50s, lives next door to his brother but doesn’t talk to him. Four years ago, Prem developed severe coughing and asthma, a severe eye problem, and eventually loss of sight in one eye. This coincided with his father being hospitalized and his having a major row with his brother. Married, with two children who live independently, he is fast-moving to being a recluse.
• Rajeev’s mother took him and his sister away from their father when he was eight, and moved to another city. Now in his late 20s, he still isn’t sure about why his mother did this and feels he cannot raise this subject with his mother either. He has trouble relating to his bosses and colleagues at work, and a non-existent social life, having lived with his mother all along.
• Samar, in his mid-60s, is pursuing the spiritual path. An ex-army officer and successful businessman, he now wants to spend his time in Rishikesh, participating in Satsang, meditation, and spiritual discourses. His wife has an active professional and social life and isn’t ready to move with him. Samar is seeking help to give up smoking, which he feels is incompatible with his spiritual search.
Madhu, Ameeta, Mallika, Prem, Rajeev, and Samar have at least one thing in common: poor and unresolved relationships. And, they are no different from any of us, as at any time in our lives we are in relationships.
Our first relationships are with those in our immediate environment—parents, grandparents, siblings and those who take care of our physical and emotional needs. As we grow, our world enlarges to include people outside—friends at school, teachers, relatives, and religious mentors, among others. During adolescence, we develop romantic attachments with the opposite and sometimes the same sex. Entering the world of work, we encounter supervisors and colleagues, and at the same time, we contemplate and often enter into intimate relationships, which can result in marriage and children.
All these relationships require a certain emotional energy to move forward and be healthy. And relationships have the power to keep us in good physical and emotional well-being. And when relationships go wrong, they become abusive or exploitative, and if we continue with them, they become addictive. This means that although we are unhappy we feel we cannot move away from them.
The Indian family structure is predominantly patriarchal and hierarchical, in which relationships tend to be based on male power and age. As a child grows up, his wants and desires are often suppressed in favor of what adults think best. Children are constantly being told what they think or feel is wrong. Often the perceived needs of the family are put above the needs of the individual. And, in and outside the home, there is little or no focus on the importance of communication and negotiation skills.
Thus, typically, as women and men mature, they often find themselves unable to understand and or articulate their needs and desires. They carry into adulthood hurts, fears, unfulfilled desires, anger, and other negative emotions, which make it difficult to have loving and stable relationships.
Relationships and well-being
Research shows that there is a connection between social support systems/relationships and physical health. Certain relationship characteristics protect us against physical disease and illness. These are:
• Staying close and connected
• Being able to solve problems and make decisions as a team
• Being able to cope with a variety of situations together
• Being able to talk honestly and openly.
On the other hand, relationship characteristics that have been shown to increase the risk of disease and illness include:
• Relationships that are angry and hostile
• Relationships where there is criticism and blame
• Relationships that are rigid and not flexible
• Relationships that try to be ‘perfect’
• Not having close relationships.
As a healer, my observation is that most people have troubled relationships. Unless these are resolved, various kinds of emotional and physical problems arise. In my practice, I use hypnodrama to address any relationship that the client chooses to address. Under hypnosis, the powerful subconscious mind picks the problematic relationship. I speak to the subconscious mind and develop suggestions for the client to improve the relationship.
The role of love and forgiveness cannot be overstated in healing from the hurt that results when relationships go wrong. A powerful notion that the person we are feeling negatively about should be forgiven because ‘they did not know any better’ enables us to move away from remaining in the blame syndrome sphere. Additionally, self-forgiveness allows us to be more loving towards others and ourselves.
For those in addictive relationships, cord-cutting under hypnosis is an effective method in moving the relationship to a threshold where it is possible to have a more detached connection.
Importance of emotions
At the heart of fulfilling relationships is the heart! The two most powerful chakras (centers of energy) that influence relationships are the solar plexus (situated six inches above the navel) and the heart chakra. When the client experiences extreme pain and discomfort over relationships these two chakras tend to get blocked. Under hypnosis and suggestions, these can be activated again.
Recognizing and validating one’s emotions is the first step to be able to share the emotion. In Prem’s case above, his well-being depends on acknowledging that he has been deeply hurt by the actions of his brother (Note: not that his brother has hurt him) and some of these go back 30 years. He then forgives his brother (and himself) and reaches out to him.
But most of us find it difficult to share this emotional information. However, this can be done by becoming aware of what the state of our emotions is; by not responding immediately till we have an opportunity to internalize and reflect upon it; and finally being able to communicate this in a language and manner the recipient will also find comfortable.
Among others, a key to good relationships is active listening—to others and ourselves. Listening to ourselves means an internal dialogue about what we are feeling, why we are feeling this way and what we want to convey to the other person. This process helps in clarifying the message and then connecting emotionally.
Listening to others means focusing on their body language—are they making eye contact? What is the pitch of their voice? If you are speaking, how is what you are saying being received? Is there deadly silence? Is the person angry? What is their body language?
When there is a mismatch between what is being said and how it is being received, it will lead to conflict. Very often when we are charged with negative emotions (anger, jealousy, hurt, etc.) we tend not to reflect on what and how we say things. We tend to think the worst of the other person and fail to reflect on our motivations.
If the examples given early in this article were to turn their relationships into loving and forgiving ones, they could be healthier and happier. Good relationships are essential and powerful. Without them we are sad, lost souls. “We can’t change others, only our attitudes towards them.”
Anita Anand practices as a hypnotherapist and crystal healer and is one of the fore founders of
The Clinic in south Delhi.
Contact: 9811157812, firstname.lastname@example.org
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