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Three simple, spiritual truths in dating & relationships
I have the honor of hanging out with a lot of philosophers, mages and holistic healers who are on an active journey to raise the bar for themselves and for others. Because part of their journey is learning to decode the mystery and get to a better understanding so they can experience peacefulness and joy from the inside out, it’s no surprise that our conversations are always interesting and meaningful. So I was delighted that Christie asked me about attracting a spiritual partner not too long ago (here) because it’s a specific topic that I’ve never fully addressed with my clients, peers, and friends.
Christie’s email reminded me of all the good things about people on a spiritual path, such as being mindful, conscious and curious. Most people embark on a spiritual journey tostimulate greater insight and clarity, to return to a sense of wholeness and peacefulness. It’s a noble impetus.
Her email also reminded me of the common snares and traps that spiritual people sometimes fall into. Yes, that right – snares since I know how adept we all are at our own subterfuge. I know many of us resist seeing the ways in which we deceive ourselves, especially in the realm of the heart, so it’s important to explore these common “spiritual dating” traps so that our relationships can “vibrate at a higher frequency” (to use an energetic analogy).
1. free of ignorance, prejudice, or superstition
2. having a sound and open-minded understanding of all the facts, or based on such an understanding
3. having achieved the realization of a spiritual or religious understanding, especially when it results in the transcendence of human suffering and desire
source: Encarta® World English Dictionary
Spiritual people * spiritual dating traps
We become skillful actors, and while playing deaf and dumb to the real meaning of the teachings, we find some comfort in pretending to follow the path. ~Chogyam Trunpga Rinpoche
OK so that quote may seem a little scathing – I know many spiritual people are not intentionally trying to pretend to be somebody or something else. But there are some that believe that the mere act of reading tons of spiritual books, and taking every class under the sun, qualifies them as being “evolutionary” or “enlightened”. As a member of clergy who has participated in ordinations of others, I’ve witnessed people go for their clergy credentials and still remain locked in judgment and limiting, self-sabotaging thinking and destructive actions.
In addition, we live in a culture that rewards instant gratification and thus there are some who expect their transformation to be instantaneous as well. They get frustrated and disappointed when they don’t achieve inner peace after reading that book or taking a day-long workshop.
The challenge for many spiritual people is that they have voracious appetites for reading and learning, then think they know everything. Yet they are continually surprised and sideswiped when they are still not getting what they think they deserve. Or they think that they are above getting REAL help.
True spirituality, just like co-creating a fulfilling relationship that reflects our emerging awakening, takes patience, hard work and commitment. On my spiritual path, we call it aspiritual practice, because it is only through the repeated process of doing something to make it an established habit, not via the accrual of intellectual knowledge, that we can attain a higher level of existence. The same can be said about co-creating relationships – a truly extraordinary relationship requires the seeker to master key relationship skills, which can only be done by practicing and applying those skills. Thus a spiritual path is a process to help you remove or move beyond the conditioned responses that obscure your true nature. On the relationship journey, the path is a process to help you remove conditioned responses that obscure the truth of love. In this sense the spiritual and relationship path is ultimately about unlearning rather than learning – which is a paradox. We learn so we can unlearn and uncover.
Spiritual lessons that bolster extraordinary relationships
For me, the biggest lessons I’ve learned, which have made me more peaceful about my heart journey, came from my shamanic Wiccan background. On this path, we experience everything as part of the divine – divinity is imminent, therefore everything is sacred. When we recognize the divine within all things, we are less willing to desecrate anything and anyone. We treat all things with respect and kindness.
As I’ve traveled along my journey, I’ve also benefited from Buddhist teachings surrounding the Noble Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold Path is the fourth of the Four Noble Truths (see below) and is described as a practical method leading to the cessation of the experience of suffering and the achievement of self-awakening. The Noble Eightfold Path is used to develop insight into the true nature of reality and to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion (i.e., false or mistaken beliefs or ideas about something).
I do not label myself a Buddhist at all, and can only speak of it in simplistic terms (which in my eyes is perhaps all the better – the less intellectualization, the more powerful). However, the Eightfold Path really helped me see that everything that manifests in our lives, including our relationship status, is a mirror of our inner game. The Dali Lama once said: “When you realize that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy.” If loving relationships are an important part of our Garden of Eden, we absolutely cannot co-create one if our head is a thicket of weeds and prickles and our heart is scorched earth.
An important point in the Noble Eightfold Path, in my eyes, is “right* mindfulness”, having complete or thorough Awareness. Through this particular path, we develop cognizance and understanding of things, our “selves”, feelings, thoughts, other people and Reality. Through right mindfulness, we can release ourselves from the trap of taking everything personally, holding grudges and blaming others. (* Not “right” as in correct but “right” as in alignment.)
The Eightfold Path also teaches us about a key relationship skill: perfected or whole speech, also called right speech, which is clear, truthful, uplifting and non-harmful communication. I’ll talk more about communication skills, as well as the power of the words we use, in upcoming blog posts but in general, this path clearly influences how skillfully we express, communicate, think, and thereby create the events in our life. (Like a sword with two edges, our word can either create the most beautiful dream, or destroy everything around us.)
The biggest lesson I’ve learned, particularly through direct observation of way too many frustrated, distressed and angry singles, deals with the origin of our suffering – which in this case is the experience of emotional or psychological pain. Suffering arises fromattachment to desires, cravings, yearnings, identities, thoughts, behaviors, outcomes and so on. This is huge because I see so many singles – even spiritual ones like Christie – clinging to the myth that relationships are the cause of happiness, as in: “I’ll be happy when I have a romantic partner.” Too many singles think happiness is contingent upon external circumstances and situations, rather than upon their own inner attitude toward things, or toward life in general. I also see too many singles get attached to countless other beliefs such as “all the good ones are taken” etc. etc. (see my blog post on limiting beliefs – here). Attachment to these beliefs reflects the mind’s struggle in response to challenge; letting go, particularly regarding outcomes, is key to being peaceful. And yet we get so caught up in our yearnings, such as the idea that we must be in a partnership to be happy, that we can’t see the trap we’re setting.
Listen, I know it’s HARD to stay in a spiritual zone when recovering from a breakup or when we’re out there dating and looking for our ideal partner, or even when we’re intimately involved with someone. Fear of vulnerability, as well as self-doubt and low self-esteem issues, can shake our foundations and all of our learnings can often fly out the window. And yet this is the precise time to rely on our spiritual practices, to not only move us toward enlightenment, but to attract and co-create empowered relationships.
The key is to practice – learn to recognize attachment, the cause of your suffering.
Up Next: what a spiritually “evolved” or empowered relationship looks like and how to attract a spiritual partner.